Nacer Bailando by Alma Flor Ada
and True Grit by Charles Portis
During the last weekend in April I finished two books. Don't be impressed; they were both short and sweet.I checked out Nacer Bailando from the library because I like reading in Spanish and French from time to time to keep up my language ability (although I recognize that what I really need is to improve my speaking ability in both of those languages). My intention is to read a Spanish and a French book each month, which is why I sometimes pick up young adult books, to at least get a bit closer to that goal! So much fail, there. Anyway, True Grit was cosmic because my mother and Brian and I had recently watched the original John Wayne movie after discussing how much Brian and I loved the Coen brothers' remake, whereas the original is a film beloved by my mother that I recall being on in the living room quite often during my childhood. The three of us also went to Utah recently to clean out my late grandfather's garage, and what to our wondering eyes should appear but a copy of that novel. Needless to say we did not include it in our donate-to-charity boxes, but instead brought it down to Phoenix and all read it in succession.
Nacer Bailando was good. I want to give it to my niece and nephew (in English--they are so resistant to my wishes that they become bilingual at an early age!) Its central characters are Margaraita, a Texas-born California resident of Mexican heritage who discovers when her Mexican-born cousin comes to live with her that it's okay to like her Mexican heritage as much as her U.S. life and heritage. It sounds kind of simplistic and "politically correct" but it's really not treacly at all. And it totally celebrates and exposes the young reader to a famous poem and some other cultural things.
True Grit is an even quicker read than the children's fiction, I think! You just zip through it, so if you're even considering reading it, you really have no excuse not to go check it out from your local library; you'll be done a day later. Of course Mattie Ross is awesome as always, and the mentions of my boy Rutherford B. Hayes don't hurt. As much as I grew up with John Wayne and will always recall waiting for "the snake part" to come along as a child, and as much as I adore General Sterling Price, I am kind of into the Coen brothers' flick, particularly Hailee Steinfeld. Did you know she is working on Romeo and Juliet now? I do believe that will show us whether or not she is as magical as she seemed in True Grit.