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 They Call Me Guero

They Call Me Guero

School Library Journal 1 Stars
"Vibrant and unforgettable, this is a must-have for all middle grade collections. Pair with both fiction and nonfiction books on immigration, forced cultural assimilation, and stories about contemporary Mexican American life."
Güero is a Mexican American border kid with nerdy tastes, pale skin, and red hair. Wishing he had been born with a darker complexion so no one would question his Mexican American heritage, Güero’s family tell him to be grateful for the advantages his lighter hair and skin afford him and to use it to open doors for the rest of his family. Güero’s voice carries this novel through a playful array of poetic forms, from sonnets to raps, free verse to haiku. VERDICT Vibrant and unforgettable, this is a must-have for all middle grade collections. Pair with both fiction and nonfiction books on immigration, forced cultural assimilation, and stories about contemporary Mexican American life.
- September 30, 2018  Visit Website
Shelf Awareness 1 Stars
“With a glossary of Spanish words and phrases in the back, They Call Me Güero makes itself accessible to all readers without ever moving away from celebrating and directly addressing Spanish-speaking children.”
Twelve-year-old Güero is a "border kid, a foot on either bank." With copper-colored hair, "pasty white" skin and a ton of freckles, Güero has the lightest skin in his extended family. (Hence the nickname, Güero, literally, a "person with pale skin.") Everyone in the family has a loving nickname for him "[b]ut at school, it's a different story." He tells his "deep brown like mesquite bark"-skinned father about his classmate's taunts. "M'ijo, pale folks catch all the breaks/ here and in Mexico, too," his dad responds. "Doors will open for you that won't for me." Güero cries, frustrated: he didn't ask for this. No, you didn't, Dad says, "but now/ you've got to hold them open for us all."

David Bowles's (The Smoking Mirror) novel in verse is told entirely from Güero's seventh-grade point of view. Using poetic forms from different cultures--the Japanese haiku and chōka, the Malay pantoum, Korean sijo, Italian sonnet, French ballad--Güero invites the reader to experience his everyday joys and sorrows. He writes about his diverse group of best friends all named Bobby, whom his sister calls "los Derds--Diverse/Nerds"; he rhapsodizes about learning how to write poetry, and how he puts "pen to paper, and [his] soul/ comes rushing out in line after line"; he composes a number of senryu under the heading "Remedios y Rarezas" about he and "los Bobbys" comparing "all the strange beliefs/ [their] families share." With a glossary of Spanish words and phrases in the back, They Call Me Güero makes itself accessible to all readers, without ever moving away from celebrating and directly addressing Spanish-speaking children.

Discover David Bowles's novel in verse introduces readers to Güero, a bilingual "border kid" with an active life and a love of poetry.
- Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, November 8, 2018  Visit Website
Kirkus Reviews
“Güero’s voice brims with humor, wit, and bits of slang, and a diverse cast of characters offers hints of other cultures. … A valuable, too-brief look at the borderlands.”
Explore the life of a border kid in Bowles’ spirited verse novel. For the 12-year-old Mexican-American narrator that everyone calls Güero, the borderlands (that “strip of frontier, / home of hardy plants”) means more than home. On Saturdays, he crosses the border into Mexico with his dad and chats with the locals. He goes marketing in the boisterous pulga with Mom and listens to his abuela Mimi’s scary folktales. Seventh grade soon begins, and Güero reunites with los Bobbys (or, as his sister Teresa calls them, “los Derds—Diverse Nerds”) for some reading, mischief, and girls (a new interest). His English teacher even gets Güero interested in poetry! In this slim verse novel, Bowles splendidly translates border life via loosely connected vignettes in an eclectic mix of poetic forms. Güero’s voice brims with humor, wit, and bits of slang, and a diverse cast of characters offers hints of other cultures. The author, however, does inject some complex themes and topics for rich discussion, touching on immigration, prejudice, and even the narrator’s nickname, “güero,” a term used to refer to light-skinned men and boys. Güero occasionally faces flak from a few schoolmates on account of his pale, freckled skin and copper hair, resulting in a revealing exchange with his dad: “M’ijo, pale folks catch all the breaks / here and in Mexico, too. Not your fault. / Not fair. Just the way it’s been for years.” A valuable, too-brief look at the borderlands.
- August 1, 2018  Visit Website
School Library Journal's 2018 Best Books
“A variety of poetic forms distinguish the vignettes that paint a rich portrait of life on the border.”
In this slim but affecting novel in verse, readers meet Güero, a light-skinned, freckle-faced, copper-headed border kid who crosses into Mexico frequently with his dad to shop and catch up with family. In addition to exploring issues of colorism within the Latinx community, Bowles integrates discussions on immigration and racism. A variety of poetic forms distinguish the vignettes that paint a rich portrait of life on the border.
- November 21, 2018  Visit Website
The Horn Book Inc.
"A welcome contribution to the bildungsroman corpus of Chicana/o literature."
The dynamic complexity of the Rio Grande borderlands pulses in the poetry of twelve-year-old Güero—a nickname commonly given to light-skinned, freckled Mexican and Chicano boys. Inspired by the words of his seventh-grade teacher, Ms. Wong, who declares poetry to be the “clearest lens for viewing the world,” Güero sets out to record everything he sees around him. His forty-nine poems capture the heat and exhilaration of bottle rocket fights at the family Fourth of July barbeque; his close friendship with the “Three Bobbys,” a.k.a. “The Bookworm Squad”; and his uncomplicated young love for tough-girl Joanna. Central to Güero’s world is the dexterously rich linguistic tradition of Mexican cuentos and dichos, and readers hear vivid stories about, for example, “la Mano Pachona,” the dismembered and hairy hand, famous in the pantheon of supernatural lore (which here haunts the school toilets). The poems also touch on racism and how Güero’s family expects him to “push right through them gates / …Represent us, m’ijo, / all the ones they kept down. You are us. / We are you.” Bowles confidently intersperses the voices of Güero’s many family members, using Texas Spanglish colloquialisms with specificity (back matter includes a generous glossary and pronunciation key), in diverse poetic forms, resulting in a welcome contribution to the bildungsroman corpus of Chicana/o literature.
- Lettycia Terrones, November 1, 2018  Visit Website
“I absolutely love this book!”
- Margarita Engle, 2017-19 National Young Peoples Poet Laureate, , April 3, 2018 
“Snapchat, texting, woke teachers, K-pop/hip-hop, hybrid cars, and border troubles tie this story to today’s times, but the rich characters who fill Güero’s family, school, and neighborhood—Uncle Joe, Abuela Mimi, Joanna la Fregona, the three Bobbys, Bisabuela Luisa, and a dozen more—are the beating heart of this masterful novel-in-poems rooted in generations of culture, geography, and story.”
- Sylvia Vardell & Janet Wong, creators of The Poetry Friday Anthology, May 1, 2018 
Rosanne Parry Blog
"The poems are short and ring clear with emotional and physical details that will strike a chord with any reader."
"THEY CALL ME GÜERO by David Bowles is a collection of poems which together form a loose narrative about a boy living in South Texas and occupying the physical but also social and emotional space that spans the US-Mexico border. The poems are short and ring clear with emotional and physical details that will strike a chord with any reader. There are many words in Spanish but none that would be a barrier to a reader who knows only English. The glossary in the back is more a courtesy than a necessity. Teachers will be delighted to find many poetic forms and devices used throughout which make it ideal for using in school. I also found it notable in that it doesn’t shy away from the main character’s spiritual practice. A gem from Cinco Puntos Press."
- Rosanne Parry, October 26, 2018  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 - 2018 Cinco Puntos Press
Designed by
Stanton Street 

Distributed to the trade by Consortium Book Sales and Distribution.