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A Border Kid's Poems

by David Bowles
illustrated by Zeke Peña
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Life is tough for a border kid, but Güero has figured out how to cope. He writes poetry.

Product Details

10-digit ISBN1-947627-07-9
13-digit ISBN978-1-947627-07-9
Also Available InHardcover
Page Count112
Publication DateOctober 15, 2018
Starred Review1 Stars - see reviews
RightsAll Rights Available
Twelve-year-old Güero is Mexican American, at home with Spanish or English and on both sides of the river. He’s starting 7th grade with a woke English teacher who knows how to make poetry cool.

In Spanish, “Güero” is a nickname for guys with pale skin, Latino or Anglo. But make no mistake: our red-headed, freckled hero is puro mexicano, like Canelo Álvarez, the Mexican boxer. Güero is also a nerd—reader, gamer, musician—who runs with a squad of misfits like him, Los Bobbys. Sure, they get in trouble like anybody else, and like other middle-school boys, they discover girls. Watch out for Joanna! She’s tough as nails.

But trusting in his family’s traditions, his accordion and his bookworm squad, he faces seventh grade with book smarts and a big heart.

DAVID BOWLES grew up and lives in the Río Grande Valley of South Texas. A many-faceted writer and scholar, he’s the author of Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky: Myths of Mexico. His middle-grade fantasy The Smoking Mirror was selected as a 2016 Pura Belpré Author Honor by the American Library Association.

@DavidOBowles is active in the #weneeddiversebooks and #ownvoices movements. He’s a professor at UTRGV.
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."
- September 30, 2018  Visit Website
full review >>
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.”
- Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, November 9, 2018  Visit Website
full review >>
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.”
- August 1, 2018  Visit Website
full review >>
The Horn Book Inc.
"A welcome contribution to the bildungsroman corpus of Chicana/o literature."
- Lettycia Terrones, November 1, 2018  Visit Website
full review >>
“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 
“I absolutely love this book!”
- Margarita Engle, 2017-19 National Young Peoples Poet Laureate, April 13, 2018 
Rosanne Parry Blog
"The poems are short and ring clear with emotional and physical details that will strike a chord with any reader."
- Rosanne Parry, October 26, 2018  Visit Website
full review >>
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.”
- November 21, 2018  Visit Website
full review >>
Midwest Book Review, Children's Bookwatch
"They Call Me Guero: A Border Kid's Poems" by David Bowles (a native of the South Texas borderlands, where he teaches at the University of Texas Río Grande Valley) is a compendium of poetry for young readers ages 8-12 and will prove to be a prized and welcome addition to school and community library collections."
- April 20, 2019  Visit Website
full review >>
Publishers Weekly Zero Stars
“An achievement of both artistic skill and emotional resonance, Bowles’s volume is both a richly rewarding tour through many borderlands, including adolescence itself, and a defiant celebration of identity: 'no wall, no matter how tall, can stop your heritage.'”
- May 3, 2019  Visit Website
full review >>
Américas Book Award
Américas Book Award Commended Title"While Bowles includes heavy themes of immigration, the sting of racism toward Güero, so called for his pale skin, and the ever-present psychological awareness of being a broder kid, lighter moments prevail: the market, music lessons, the best buds’ bookworm squad, and family celebrations. Bowles artfully conveys Mexican culture and infuses Spanish words throughout this connected collection of 49 poems, and readers will resonate with the narrator’s navigation through seventh grade."
Reading Style
This slim poetry collection becomes more relevant with each passing day.
- Barbara Moon, November 11, 2018  Visit Website
full review >>
Click here to view all the reviews

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