With roots on the U.S./Mexico border, Cinco Puntos publishes great books which make a difference in the way you see the world.
childrens books
young adult books
poetry books
fiction books
non-fiction books
graphic novels
first concepts
featured titles

about us
customer service

Teacher's Resources
View & Print our Bilingual Catalog
View & Print our YA Catalog

<< Back to Vatos


Book Dragon

Luis Alberto Urrea‘s “hymn to vatos who will never be in a poem” provides the lyrical frame onto which Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer José Galvez showcases the everyday challenges and celebrations of the Latino experience. This slightly sepia-ed homage to masculinity-on-the-fringe was a 2002 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers from the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) of the American Library Association.
“Vatos,” Urrea explains, “– street slang for dude, guy, pal, brother– sprang from the highly stylized language of the Pachucos (los chukotes) in the ’50. It’s a Chicano term derived from the once-common friendly insult chivato, or goat. It had a slightly unacceptable air to it, which the Locos and Weesas of the Chico world enjoyed. They were able to take the sting out of racism by calling themselves a bunch of names assimilated ‘good Mexicans’ didn’t like.”
Here are the vatos: young and old, with their mothers, wives, girlfriends, and daughters, surrounded by their friends and rivals, fleeing and getting caught, working and waiting, singing and praying. Dressed up, dressed down, tattooed, uniformed, riding bikes and cars, the men and their families here are caught forever … never-changing, never wavering, the music always playing, the bodies smoothly swaying, the children forever playing.
Urrea’s hymn is a lulling chant, drawing you into a vast vato world, offering glimpses of solidarity and exclusion, struggle and joy. Each page is a near-wordless story, sometimes warm – “All the vatos and their abuelitos,” with a grandfather safely snuggling his sleeping grandchild in his arms – and sometimes mournful – “All the vatos sure that no one sees them,” sleeping off late night reveries sprawled across the front steps of a closed bar, a “Welcome Home!” sign ironically painted on the bar’s entrance doors.
For all the forgotten Latino men, Urrea rhythmically chants them back into existence. And page by page, with Galvez’s surprising, poignant, revealing photographs, the invisible men appear, ready to be recognized and ultimately remembered.
- May 22, 2011 

books for kids | young adults | poetry | non-fiction | fiction | on sale | featured titles
submissions | about us | customer service | contact us | bilingual books
search | privacy statement | ©2001 - 2019 Cinco Puntos Press
Designed by
Stanton Street 

Distributed to the trade by Consortium Book Sales and Distribution.