Our Young People's Poet Laureate
and School Library Journal
Young People's Poet Laureate Margarita Engle selects They Call Me Güero as the perfect book for this second half of Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month.
In this lively Spanglish verse novel, David Bowles introduces readers to middle school life in a border town. It’s a story about everything from bullying to belonging, family, and friendship. It’s also about poetry:
My mind and heart swell with all the things
I need to say, and one day it just happens:
I put pen to paper, and my soul
comes rushing out in line after line.
Rich in storytelling, culture, and immigration issues, the book has enough humor and romance to keep the plot moving quickly. One of my favorite stanzas is about Spanglish:
I hear the echo of their calls
when I speak.
My own tongue
is an aviary.
―Margarita Engle, YPPL, The Poetry Foundation
Margarita Engle is the Poetry Foundation’s Young People’s Poet Laureate, serving from 2017 to 2019. Awarded by the Poetry Foundation for a two-year term, the Young People’s Poet Laureate aims to raise awareness that young people have a natural receptivity to poetry and are its most appreciative audience, especially when poems are written specifically for them.
SELECTED BY SLJ as one of the top 27 Middle Grade and YA Latinx Titles for National Hispanic Heritage Month and Beyond
September 26, 2018
David Bowles. They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid’s Poems. 160p. glossary. Cinco Puntos. Sept. 2018. Tr ISBN 9781947627062.
"Vibrant and unforgettable, this is a must-have for all middle grade collections."
Gr 5-8–Güero is a Mexican American border kid with nerdy tastes, pale skin, and red hair. Wishing he had been born with a darker complexion so no one would question his Mexican American heritage, Güero’s family tell him to be grateful for the advantages his lighter hair and skin afford him and to use it to open doors for the rest of his family. Güero’s voice carries this novel through a playful array of poetic forms, from sonnets to raps, free verse to haiku. VERDICT Vibrant and unforgettable, this is a must-have for all middle grade collections. Pair with both fiction and nonfiction books on immigration, forced cultural assimilation, and stories about contemporary Mexican American life.–Melissa Williams, Berwick Academy, ME