They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid's Poems (They Call Me Güero #1)

by David Bowles (Author)

They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid's Poems (They Call Me Güero #1)
Reading Level: 6th — 7th Grade

An award-winning novel in verse about a boy who navigates the start of seventh grade and life growing up on the border the only way that feels right--through poetry.

They call him Güero because of his red hair, pale skin, and freckles. Sometimes people only go off of what they see. Like the Mexican boxer Canelo Álvarez, twelve-year-old Güero is puro mexicano. He feels at home on both sides of the river, speaking Spanish or English. Güero is also a reader, gamer, and musician who runs with a squad of misfits called Los Bobbys.

Together, they joke around and talk about their expanding world, which now includes girls. (Don't cross Joanna--she's tough as nails.) Güero faces the start of seventh grade with heart and smarts, his family's traditions, and his trusty accordion. And when life gets tough for this Mexican American border kid, he knows what to do: He writes poetry.

Honoring multiple poetic traditions, They Call Me Güero is a classic in the making and the recipient of a Pura Belpré Honor, a Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award, a Claudia Lewis Award for Excellence in Poetry, and a Walter Dean Myers Honor.

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Publisher's Weekly

Growing up as a Mexican-American oborder kid, a foot on either bank,oe the 12-year-old narrator of BowlesÆs skillful, moving novel-in-poems details his seventh-grade year. Güero, so called for his rusty-colored hair and pale, freckled skin, enjoys life with his large family in a home that glows warm with love, but at school, he's taunted about his complexion and bullied by enormous classmate Snake Barrera. With humor and sensitivity, Bowles (The Hidden City) mixes family scenesùsuch as Fourth of July celebrations and older relatives' frank, enraging accounts of discrimination and junior high concerns, including Güero's relief when he and his friends (odiverse nerds and geeksoe) take refuge in the library and his astonishment when he learns that brave, tough Joanna likes him back. The selections employ an impressive range of poetic styles and rhythms to amplify meaning and emotion: Joanna gets an appropriately romantic sonnet; "Borderlands" with its thin strip of lines, is almost a concrete poem; a marching beat and rhyming couplets in "Sundays" echo the repetitive sameness of a family's weekend routine. An achievement of both artistic skill and emotional resonance, Bowles' volume is both a richly rewarding tour through many borderlands, including adolescence itself, and a defiant celebration of identity: ono wall, no matter how tall, can stop your heritage.oe Ages 10-14.

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 5-8-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. And what a family it is! While Güero's wise, resourceful, and often hilarious family provides a buoy through the turbulent waters of seventh grade, so too, do influential educators and "Los Bobbys," Güero's liked-minded, bookish friends. The tuned-in school librarian fuels Güero's passion for reading with his diverse literature collection, and his transformational English teacher helps him discover his voice through poetry. Güero's voice carries this novel through a playful array of poetic forms, from sonnets to raps, free verse to haiku. A Spanish-to-English glossary at the back of the book aids the non-Spanish reader's understanding of the text, while it simultaneously, and perhaps more significantly, communicates the beauty of the language and of Güero's heritage. Readers come away with two worthy takeaways: firstly, that life is challenging for a child of immigrants on the southern U.S. border, and, secondly-triumphantly-a deep appreciation for the richness of Güero's culture.á 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.

Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

David Bowles
David Álvarez is a graduate of the School of Design of the National Institute of Fine Arts of Mexico (EDINBA) and the winner of numerous international illustration awards. Ancient Night is his first book published in English.

David Bowles is a Mexican American author and translator from South Texas. Among his multiple award-winning books are Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky: Myths of Mexico, and They Call Me Güero. His translation of The Sea-Ringed World garnered a Batchelder Honor and was a finalist for the International Latino Book Award. In 2017, David was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
August 20, 2021
They Call Me Güero
BISAC categories
JUV057000 - Juvenile Fiction | Stories in Verse (see also Poetry)
JUV039020 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Adolescence
JUV011030 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - Hispanic & Latino
Library of Congress categories
Pura Belpre Author Honor
2019 - 2019
Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award
Claudia Lewis Award for Excellence in Poetry
Walter Dean Myers Honor

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