Latinos in American History Book Reviews

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School Library Journal, June 2004

On Junipero José Serra

This serviceable, information biography recounts the contributions of the Franciscan missionary often referred to as the "Father of California." His commitment to converting non-Christian people motivated him to travel to Mexico (New Spain) in 1749. His passionate sermons, self-flagellation, and enthusiasm in establishing "home missions," or communities, prompted his appointment to presidency of the 14 missions already spread over 600 miles in Baja California. Until his death in 1784, Serra worked tirelessly to spread the Christian gospel, a civilized way of life, and Spanish influence northward along the California coast. A Catholic movement to grant sainthood to Serra is underway despite some protest about the destructive effect of early missionaries whose religious zeal was aimed at eradicating Native culture. Whiting offers a brief but clear and balanced overview of Serra's life and accomplishments. Color illustrations and photographs are included. This title fills a growing need for accessible, historical Latino biographies.

Children's Bookwatch, December 2003

On Juan Bautista de Anza, Diego Rivera, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, Junipero José Serra, Cesar Chavez, and Americo Paredes

The profiles of notable Latinos in all walks of life will greatly enhance any multicultural collection.

Young Adult Reviewers of Southern California, December 2003

On Diego Rivera, Antonio Lopez De Santa Anna, Junipero José Serra

...The writing level and language are simple enough for middle schoolers but with sufficient depth for report writing...

Ridgeline Montessori Public Charter School

On Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna

Follow the life of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, an important figure in the shaping of Mexico and Texas history. Inspired by Napoleon Bonaparte, this young, Mexican-born soldier steadily rose to power and ruled over Mexico as president and later dictator until his final exile to Nassau. Timelines, references and a brief glossary are included. This incredibly informative biography addresses the often-overlooked yet significant Hispanic contribution to American history. It has a durable reinforced binding. Information is presented as a story, which keeps the chapters engaging. … Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna … is appropriately placed in a middle school library. It is interesting … and will add an important figure to your library's collection of biographies.

Laura Friesen Washington Elementary Lane ESD

On Gaspar de Portola

The book is filled with interesting information regarding the early exploration and settlement along the Pacific coastline. … The end of the book has a chronology of events, timelines, further research, glossary and index, providing important information for reports. This book is part of a series called Latinos in American History and is a valuable resource for learning both the history of the United States and the contributions made by the Hispanic people.

On Juan Ponce de Leon

…interesting with a good portion … devoted to Spanish history in the New World. The books in this series … are colorful and attractive …

On Lorenzo de Zavala

The format of the book is easy to follow, with pictures depicting the text. The size and color of the book should appeal to young people.

VOYA, June 2003

On Lorenzo de Zavala

Each book in this series introduces a person of Spanish or Latin American heritage who made a significant contribution to North American history. … Lorenzo de Zavala is the story of a man who was born in the Spanish Yucatan in 1789. During his life, he fought for both Mexico's independence from Spain and Texas's independence from Mexico. He served three terms as the vice president of Texas before his death in 1836. …

[Zavala] tells the life of a man born in the hemisphere who made significant contributions to two nations, but whose name has been lost in the tides of time. His biography provides a good introduction to an overlooked segment of American history, and with additional titles on figures such as Gaspar de Portola, Hernando de Soto, and Juan Ponce de Leon, it is a welcome addition to expanding cultural history collections.

Children's Bookwatch, February 2003

On Juan Ponce de Leon, Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, Lorenzo de Zavala, and Hernando de Soto

Kids in grades 4-8 will find the Mitchell Lane "Latinos in American History" series to be an appealing set, while teachers will enjoy the opportunity to focus on some minority figures and major figures in Latino-American history. All are excellent, pairing plenty of facts with colorful illustrations.

Media Connection, November 2002

On Pedro Menedez de Aviles and Francisco Vásquez de Coronado

This new series includes Hispanic influences from the past five centuries, from the Spanish explorers and settlers of the 16th century to personalities from the present. Each book presents a balanced view of its subject. Along with heroics and adventurers, atrocities and brutalities are included. The books are brief and colorful, with numerous photos and illustrations. The series would be best utilized in conjunction with European/world history or early American history courses. Chronologies, Timelines, Glossaries, Web Sites, and Additional Readings are included. Highly Recommended.

Booklist, October 15, 2002

On Francisco Vásquez de Coronado and Pedro Menéndez de Avilés

These entries in the new Latinos in American History series provide interesting introductions into the lives of two early Spanish explorers. Pedro Menéndez de Avilés helped colonize Florida for Spain and beat back the French in 1565 to secure his country's claim. Roberts begins with and focuses on a massacre of French soldiers, giving the event plenty of information about his subjects' role, the context of the event, and a strong sense of what life was like at the time. Coronado is a more enticing book, chronicling the conquistador's search for the fabled Seven Cities of Gold, which he never found, and other explorations as well as accusations leveled against him for crimes against native peoples. There is some slight fictionalization, but both books are well written and bring children right into the middle of history. The design is simple, and the illustrations are, for the most part, very good, with archival material better than the color photographs. Some children may be confused by the word Latinos in the series title, because both subjects are Spanish, but the series covers a wide range of historical and contemporary figures and refers to the Hispanic influence in the U.S., beginning with explorers. Each book has a time line, a chronology, a bibliography, and listing of Web sites.

Children's Bookwatch, July 2002

On Francisco Vásquez de Coronado and Pedro Menéndez de Avilés

Two excellent series additions are recommended picks for grades 5-6. New to "Latinos in American History" series ($19.95 each) are Jim Whiting's Francisco Vásquez De Coronado (1584151463) and Russell Roberts' Pedro Menéndez De Avilés (1584151501). Each provides not only a biography of just under 50 pages but insights into how their Hispanic backgrounds contributed to their lives. Pedro founded and colonized St. Augustine, made a name for himself in brave deeds at sea, and lead the life of an adventurer. Coronado's life was one of searching for gold in the American southwest, a pursuit which changed the world.