13 Dec

Latinos are also a bit under represented in television but gaining momentum. But we’ve come a long, long way from Speedy Gonzalez

Glee’s own Lea Michele (nee Lea Michel Sarfati), who is half Italian and half Spanish. Her character, Rachel Barry,  isn’t Latina but she is. And she’s awesome.

There’s Ugly Betty. Or make that was. Since the show was canceled in January 2010. But Ana Ortiz and America Ferrara are pushing for a movie version. Betty is a young woman from Queens who is long in good nature and short on fashion sense. She lands a job at a fashion magazine. It’s based on the Colombian Telenovela, Yo soy Betty, La Fea, which Salma Hayek brought to life in the US. Here’s a link to the original, but you really have to be fluent to get it.

Disney has give us The Wizards of Waverly Place. The family is a little nuts, half wizard, half Mexican. Both characteristics are a big part of the show. Clearly. For a change, some of the stars are actually Latino. Not like in the movie, West Side Story. Selena Gomez (Mexican & Irish) is the daughter and María Canals Barrera (Cuban) plays the mother.

Disney also has Camp Rock, about Mitchie Torres whose mother is a cook. Mitchie wants to attend Camp Rock, but her family cannot afford it. Until her mom agrees to cater there. This TV movie series stars Canals Barrera as the mother, Demi Lovato (Mexican, Irish and Italian) and also Anna Maria Francesca Enriquez Perez de Taglé (Filipino, Chinese, Irish and Italian) is Ella Pador, one of the richy, ditzy girls.



13 Dec

Want some more links about Latinos?

You can read some Hispanic American Firsts here: Famous Firsts by Hispanic Americans —

Here are links on more books…

plus most authors also have blogs, here are some:

Spanish Theater:

Best food in NYC (doesn’t include cart people who sell awesome tamales):

Becoming Naomi León by Pam Muñoz Ryan

13 Dec

Naomi Soledad León Outlaw hates her name. She’s not much of an outlaw. She’s not much of a lion either. She’s more of a mouse. She whispers. Her brother Owen has some disabilities but is super smart. He puts tape on his clothes. He gets teased a lot. They are both half Mexican but only Naomi looks the part, with dark olive skin, brown hair and brown eyes. Owen takes after the other half, with fair skin.

Their great-grandmother (Gram)makes most of their clothes. Out of scrap polyester. Actually they both get teased a lot. Naomi is part of the left over crowd. She eats lunch in the cafeteria with the rest of the left over bunch.

They live with Gram at the Avocado Acres Trailer Rancho, in their trailer, Baby Beluga. Owen plays checkers. Naomi carves soap into animal shapes. It’s a gift. Gram sews  with their friend, and neighbor, Fabiola. All is fine till her mother Terri Lynn, now knows as Skyla, comes into town like a tornado and shakes everything up. Skyla is an unknown to Naomi and Owen. And even their Gram doesn’t know what’s going on, or what Skyla and her boyfriend want.

But when Skyla shows her hand, the Outlaws have to go on the run. To Oaxaca Mexico. And Naomi needs to abandon her inner mouse and discover and develop the lion inside of her.

Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez

13 Dec

Tyler’s dad had a tractor accident. His brother is about to go college. And his high school aged sister isn’t about to help much. Since Tyler is only 12, he has to go to school. He can’t help like he wants to on the farm. The farm that has been in his family forever. María Dolores (Mari) is Mexican, and her father and uncles have been hired to do the work that Tyler, his brother and his dad can’t do.  Tyler tells his side of the story, while  Mari’s is in letter format — letters she writes to her mother but never sends. Mari is here illegally, but her sisters aren’t. They were born here. Their lives are here.

A lot of Vermont farmers hire Mexican laborers. But feelings are mixed about the details of those relationships and the lives of the workers and their families. Mari’s mother, who returned to Mexico a year ago to visit her mother, has gone missing.  They aren’t sure if she is dead, with La Migra (immigration) or with the coyotes.

Tyler and Mari struggle with problems, emotions and complications that her arrival at his house brings. They go to school and become friends. Mari and her sisters, also named María Ofelia (Ofie) and María Lubyneida (Luby), (Tyler calls them the three Marías) become a part of the family and Tyler learns exactly how much he will do to keep his family, his blood family and his new family safe and protected.

The Red Umbrella by Cristina Diaz Gonzalez

13 Dec

Lucía, 14,  lives in Cuba just as Castro begins his take over. She wants to grow up and be more independent. She wants some space. She doesn’t want to be treated like a baby, like her 7 year old brother Frankie.

She is more concerned about fashion and parties than politics.  But that’s not true of school friends who are swept up by the movement, joining the youth brigade and become brainwashed. In quick  order things change. She finds their beloved pharmacist hanging from a tree in the local park. Her father loses his job. Her uncle turns on them. Lucía is suddenly becoming more grown up, and not the way she wanted to be.

Her parents enrolled Lucía and her brother in the Pedro Pan Program, which arranged for children to leave Cuba for the US. Suddenly, Lucía and her Frankie, are in Maine, then quickly transferred to Nebraska and living with the Baxters until their parents can come.

Nebraska isn’t Cuba. It’s cold. There’s snow. The food is different. Lucía is no longer the well dressed, rich girl. She’s wearing hand me downs. She has trouble fitting in. High school kids, then as now, are wary of the new kid, especially when she has an accent. Frankie has it easier. He’s little and he likes to play ball.

The year goes slowly as they follow the political turmoil in their homeland and pray for their parents safety.


10 Dec

Latinos and Music seem to go together.

Christina Aguilera, Marc Anthony and Ricky Martin are names that most people identify as Latino. And Carlos Santana is back. Better than ever. Or not.

Not all of Christina’s videos are appropriate. Here’s a good one. And she sounds great in her new movie Burlesque.

Marc Anthony, Almohada from his album Iconos,  

You can also hear it from his website

Ricky Martin’s Pégate:

and Santana new and old:

Shakira brings a whole world element to her singing. She’s from Barranquilla, Colombia of Spanish, Lebanese and Italian descent.

In english with She Wolf at the world cup: 

and in Spanish, from her new album, Sale el Sol:

To see a list of the Latin Grammy winners check out this site too.

Here’s a site in spanish: and in English:

But if you want just to hear music, the Spanish version is fine. And you can translate the page in to English.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan

10 Dec

Esperanza Ortega  lives a charmed life in Aguascalientes, Mexico. Beautiful clothes, porcelain dolls, she lives on a huge rancho, Rancho de las Rosas, with  servants and extended family who cater to her every whim. But all that changes one day when tragedy strikes the rancho. Esperanza and her mother, Ramona, leave with the rancho foreman and his family, for Southern California during the depression in 1930. It takes awhile for Esperanza to realize how much her life has changed. It’s not just the clothes, the toys, the work. Or the dust. Where and how they live. It’s everything. She is no longer the rich girl, she’s the immigrant worker. But when her mother falls ill, Esperanza becomes the hope of her family. Hope rising for their future in the US and distancing themselves from their past.