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|Soldier for equality : Jose de la Luz Saenz and the Great War|
Author: Tonatiuh, Duncan
The story of Mexican American WWI hero Jose de la Luz Saenz.
Kirkus Reviews (+) (08/15/19)
School Library Journal (+) (10/01/19)
Booklist (+) (09/01/19)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (00/09/19)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 09/01/2019 *Starred Review* The creator of Funny Bones (2015) and Undocumented (2018) continues to shine a much-needed light on unrecognized Mexican American contributions to history. José de la Luz Sáenz strove to bring about racial equality, from the underfunded and segregated classrooms in his local community to the trenches of France during WWI. After fighting for his country in the Great War, Luz hoped that he and his fellow soldiers of Mexican descent would be accepted and celebrated, but that wasn’t the case, and so he spent the rest of his life advocating for equal rights, cofounding LULAC, one of the oldest organizations that fights for Latinx rights. Using kid-friendly language that doesn’t shy away from the ugliness of prejudice and war, Tonatiuh expertly crafts an informative and engaging picture-book biography supported by primary sources. If the straightforward text doesn’t grab young readers, the arresting pre-Columbian-inspired art will. The illustrations are hand-drawn and digitally collaged, with the neutral, brown-tinged palette recalling WWI’s uniforms and trenches. Direct quotes from the subject’s diaries and correspondences are seamlessly incorporated into the narrative, and Tonatiuh makes use of Luz’s actual handwriting, inserting the script as texture into several backgrounds. Thorough back matter includes two time lines, sources, a glossary, and more. This one’s a must for all picture-book biography collections. - Copyright 2019 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 10/01/2019 Gr 1–3—José de la Luz Sáenz knew that many people who had roots in Mexico were hard workers, just like his father, and he did not understand why people were mistreated simply because of their heritage. Luz, who was born in Texas, experienced discrimination firsthand and made it his goal to help others of Mexican descent. After working as a teacher, Luz joined the army to fight in World War I in the hopes that others would realize that Mexican Americans were also willing to sacrifice for the United States. Although Luz faced discrimination, even from some of his fellow soldiers, he made close friends and spent his time studying French, which helped him earn a position in communications receiving, translating, and sending messages. Upon his return to the States, Luz was disappointed to learn that the discrimination faced by Mexican Americans had not changed. Together with other war veterans in Texas, Luz worked to improve the rights of Mexican Americans, ultimately forming the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)—an organization that fought for democracy, justice, and equality. Tonatiuh's traditional hand-drawn and collage-style illustrations depict Luz and his fellow Mexican Americans' trials and victories, as well as the tragedies of the war. Clear, descriptive text traces Luz's life and provides insight into his thoughts, feelings, and determination. VERDICT A culturally and historically important work focusing on an inspirational Mexican American soldier who fought for America during the Great War, as well as for equal rights for his fellow Mexican Americans. An essential purchase for all children's nonfiction collections.—Selenia Paz, Harris County Public Library, Houston - Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.