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

about us
customer service

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

<< Back to Pig Park

Pig Park

Kirkus Reviews
"The story of a community working together is uplifting … Martinez uses nicely specific physical details to relate Masi’s experiences, and the moments in the bakery seem particularly authentic and are suffused with love."
Residents of a declining neighborhood band together to turn their economy around by building a tourist attraction.
Masi spent her life working in her family’s bakery in Pig Park, so named for the lard company that, until outsourcing, provided most of the area’s jobs. The multiethnic Chicago neighborhood agrees to the outlandish scheme of building a “Gran Pirámide” in their park, as a famous community developer suggests. Masi, at 15, is just happy to have a job outside with her friends, and she is also delighted to meet Felix, a college student from outside the area who shows up to offer help in the neighborhood. In a subplot, Masi’s mother leaves for an extended stay with her parents in Texas, where she is diagnosed with diabetes, while her father struggles to keep the bakery going. Masi’s anguish over her mother’s absence is palpable … The story of a community working together is uplifting … Martinez uses nicely specific physical details to relate Masi’s experiences, and the moments in the bakery seem particularly authentic and are suffused with love. (Fiction. 12-16)
- May 12, 2014 
All Brown All Around
"Between those yummy covers is an equally delicious book… The novel tackles that age-old question of how far, how much, what exactly would you do for something that matters to you?"
I confess. I'm a glutton. This book had me at the cover. That image of a delicious marranito? I can imagine the moist cake-like center, the smell of molasses. I love this cover. I want to eat this cover.

Between those yummy covers is an equally delicious book. Pig Park (Cinco Puntos Press, 2014) is Claudia Guadalupe Martinez's second novel following her 2011 debut, The Smell of Old Lady Perfume, also published by Cinco Puntos. Masi Burciaga's Chicago neighborhood has become a virtual ghost town since the American Lard Company packed up and moved its business overseas. The lard company was such a central part of the area's economy and livelihood that the neighborhood park got the name Pig Park because of it. When Jorge Peregrino, the one person in the neighborhood who seems to still be doing well for himself, comes to the people of Pig Park with what sounds like a far-out idea to keep the neighborhood alive--building a pyramid that will attract tourist--Masi and her friend jump on board to help. Masi figures even if they can't save the neighborhood she can at least spend her last summer outdoors hanging out with her friends instead of working in the stifling heat of her family's bakery.

I admit, at first I was like huh? Wait, what's going on here? How is no one skeptical of this pyramid idea? What are you Pig Park people doing?! But everything falls into place as you read your way through Masi's story. As the plan unfolds the reader can't help asking a number of timely and relevant questions. What causes neighborhoods to decline? How can declining neighborhoods be revitalized? What happens to local economies when large companies move overseas? Early in the novel the story of "The Devil and Daniel Webster" is referenced, and the novel tackles that age-old question of how far, how much, what exactly would you do for something that matters to you? The Pig Park residents are faced with two significant issues. How far are they willing to go to save their home, and how important is it to maintain the cultural integrity of their neighborhood?

But it's not all about the struggle to revive a neighborhood. An attractive and mysterious young college student blows into town to help the residents with their revitalization plans, and Masi can't help being drawn to him. On the home front, Masi struggles to understand the growing tension in the relationship between her parents. This storyline ties in nicely with the neighborhood revitalization plot as it also addresses the importance of being able to change and evolve in order to survive.

This would be a great book to tie in with social studies units on neighborhood studies, learning about how outsourcing affects cities, and community activism. I love Claudia's use of simile and especially enjoyed the very detailed scene in which a few of the teens make capirotada. Mmm mmm.
- September 18, 2014  Visit Website
VOYA Magazine 3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars
"Martinez uses diversity to her advantage, showcasing Masi, her family, and all of the people living in this town… Overall, this is a quick read that touches on family issues, young love, and the strength that comes when times get tough."
Masi Burciaga and her family have lived in the Pig Park neighborhood outside of Chicago for her whole life. After the American Lard company closes down, Pig Park turns into a ghost town. Her family’s bakery is barely surviving, her local school closed down, and all of the remaining businesses around the park are feeling the pressure. If there is one thing that can be said about the people living in Pig Park, it is that they are not willing to give up. The adults get an idea to enlist all of the teens to build a giant pyramid to attract people to Pig Park, and eventually get businesses back up and running. College student Felix comes to town representing Dr. Humberto Vidales Casal, the man behind this grand idea. As time goes on, Masi and Felix get closer, eventually leading Masi to find out some troubling news about the “Gran Pirámide.” What if the building of the pyramid has come with ulterior motives?
It is no secret that, more often than not, ethnic diversity is lacking when it comes to teen literature. With Pig Park, Martinez uses diversity to her advantage, showcasing Masi, her family, and all of the people living in this town. Food is one of the ways this is shown, with descriptions of the Burciagas’ breads and pastries throughout the story. It would have been more effective, perhaps, if Martinez had delved deeper into the culture with more description. Overall, this is a quick read that touches on family issues, young love, and the strength that comes when times get tough.—Loryn Aman.
- Loryn Aman,  Visit Website
Publishers Weekly
"Martinez creates an emotional dilemma for Masi, caught between a romantic crush and her family’s struggles, yet... suggests a fairy-tale undercurrent within the novel.”
Fifteen-year-old Masi Burciaga faces her last summer at Pig Park, a once-thriving Chicago neighborhood abandoned when its largest employer moved to China. With her family’s bakery headed for bankruptcy and her parents headed for divorce, Masi and her friends assume the challenge of building an enormous pyramid on the park green. La Gran Pirámide, meant to reignite interest and tourism in the neighborhood, comes with its own cast of characters in the form of an aloof scholar and his daughter, intent on trading the neighborhood’s authenticity for a faux Mexican tourist trap, and Felix, a college intern invested in the community (and in Masi). Martinez (The Smell of Old Lady Perfume) creates an emotional dilemma for Masi, caught between a romantic crush and her family’s struggles, yet the overuse of food metaphors (“My eyelids dropped like ten-pound sacks of flour”) and easily discernible plot twists are distracting. Martinez suggests a fairy-tale undercurrent within the novel, with Masi calling herself “the Cinderella of crumbs,” but the abrupt turnaround of Masi’s neighborhood and family removes her agency and breaks the spell of this realistic novel. Ages 13–up. (Oct.)
- September 29, 2014  Visit Website
The Midwest Book Review
“….Pig Park is a contemporary Faustian tale that forces us to look at the desperate lengths people will go to in the name of community — and maybe love. … Deftly crafted characters and an inherently fascinating and imaginative tale, ‘Pig Park’ is enthusiastically recommended for personal reading lists and would make a popular addition to community library collections.”
Pig Park, by Claudia Guadalupe Martinez
By Margaret Lane

It's crazy! Fifteen-year-old Masi Burciaga hauls bricks to help build a giant pyramid in her neighborhood park. Her neighborhood is becoming more of a ghost town each day since the lard company moved away. Even her school closed down. Her family's bakery and the other surviving businesses may soon follow. As a last resort, the neighborhood grown-ups enlist all the remaining able-bodied boys and girls into this scheme in hopes of luring visitors. Maybe their neighbors will come back too. But something's not right about the entrepreneur behind it all. And then there's the new boy who came to help. The one with the softest of lips. Pig Park is a contemporary Faustian tale that forces us to look at the desperate lengths people will go to in the name of community — and maybe love.

Critique: An usual and engagingly entertaining novel, it is clear with "Pig Park" that author Claudia Guadalupe Martinez is a master storyteller that can hold the her reader's full attention from beginning to end. Deftly crafted characters and an inherently fascinating and imaginative tale, "Pig Park" is enthusiastically recommended for personal reading lists and would make a popular addition to community library collections. It should be noted that "Pig Park" is also available in a paperback edition and a Kindle edition.
- Margaret Lane, January 1, 2015  Visit Website
De Colores: The Raza Experience in Books for Children
“A fast-moving page-turner, Pig Park is an excellent example of how young people, through creative action, really can bring about personal and political change. It’s highly recommended.” —De Colores: The Raza Experience in Books for Children
Claudia Guadalupe Martinez’s Pig Park is a contemporary novel that depicts with affection and a light touch a bustling, though little-known, neighborhood in Chicago and an unholy alliance between business interests and politicians. Ever since the American Lard Company closed in 15-year-old Masi Burciaga’s Pig Park neighborhood of Chicago, times have been tough for the local businesses tucked behind the plant. Masi’s father and grandmother started Burciaga’s Bakery when they came to Chicago from Mexico some 30 years earlier, but now the bakery is losing money. The local councilman, though, has an idea. He has been in contact with a New Mexico businessman, and if all the local businesses can contribute a sizable sum, the businessman will build a Mayan-style pyramid — “La Gran Pirámide” — in Pig Park to attract tourists.

Overlooking the stereotypes implied in this local “attraction,” Pig Park’s business owners sign on, and construction begins. Masi wants to work outside, but she and the other girls are stuck indoors doing clerical work. Although she has imagined a romantic relationship with her best friend’s older brother, she’s also drawn to the mysterious teenage intern who arrives from New Mexico to help. Her mother, who is ill with diabetes, leaves because the stress is too much. Masi misses her mother, as does her father, and they strategize in their own ways to get her back.

But as “La Gran Pirámide” is built and the community’s money runs out, the schemers want more. Here, Loretta, Masi’s mother’s best friend, voices her suspicions to the community:

“I already put in every last cent I had left on this,” Loretta said. “Besides, we don’t celebrate Cinco de Mayo. That’s just for people who like to get drunk. Don’t get me started on Day of the Dead. It’s disrespectful to try to make money off of our dead. And where are we supposed to get all of these ‘historical’ artifacts? Are we supposed to make people think they’re real? Are we building a museum now? I just stood here with my mouth shut last time because we are all so desperate, but not this time.”

As individuals and families begin to realize that they’ve been had, they also realize that something must be done. As narrator, Masi is an engaging and resourceful protagonist who wants to do right by her family and community, and sometimes voices what everyone is feeling.

Through Masi’s narration, Martínez shows, rather than tells, how Spanish language is used in a community that is largely bilingual; and since Masi has grown up working in her family’s bakery, her descriptions of people and places often contain food similes and metaphors.

Readers will be caught up in Masi’s story, wondering if and hoping that her mom will return and the bakery and the other local businesses will survive. Things look particularly bleak when Masi finds out that other places that hired the New Mexican businessmen ended up worse off than when they started—and that the beneficiaries of their pain turned out to be outside investors tight with the local politicians. Eventually, Masi prevails on the intern, her father, and the community to take matters into their own hands. A fast-moving page-turner, Pig Park is an excellent example of how young people, through creative action, really can bring about personal and political change. It’s highly recommended.
- September 18, 2016  Visit Website
School Library Journal
"Filled with a first crush, an absent parent, fear of losing home and friends, and community engagement … readers will appreciate its strong characters and identify with the protagonist’s teen angst."
(Gr 7 Up) Fifteen-year-old Masi Burciaga is facing a summer of uncertainties as her fictitious Chicago neighborhood, Pig Park, sits in the shadow of an abandoned lard company that moved its plant to China. The subsequent decline in population and economic downturn causes local businesses to flounder and Masi’s school closes. In desperation, struggling community members agree to build a huge pyramid in their central park to attract tourists. They sell their cars and dig into their savings to contribute to the project. The youth are pressed into heavy labor and clerical work to prepare for its grand opening. An unseen university professor also funds the project, sending his student Felix to help organize community efforts. Later, his colleague Belinda arrives bearing traditional Mexican clothing and folk art with ideas that cause the teens to chafe. She wants them to wear brightly colored, traditional Mexican clothing and sprinkle Spanish in their speech—whether they are of Mexican descent or not. In the midst of it all, Masi’s mother suddenly decides to take a “vacation,” leaving Masi and her father to run their Mexican bakery alone. The summer is filled with a first crush, an absent parent, fear of losing home and friends, and community engagement … readers will appreciate its strong characters and identify with the protagonist’s teen angst.

- Ruth Quiroa, September 1, 2014  Visit Website

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 - 2017 Cinco Puntos Press
Designed by
Stanton Street 

Distributed to the trade by Consortium Book Sales and Distribution.