Gr 1-4-When Sylvia Mendez moved to Westminster, California, in the 1940s, she quickly found out that not everyone was welcome in her new neighborhood. Sylvia and her brother have to attend the "Mexican" school-Hoover School. Hoover is situated next to a cow field, had an electric fence, dirty halls, no playground, and unmotivated teachers, while local white children went to the much better 17th Street Elementary School. Eventually, the Mendez family and others filed a lawsuit, Mendez v. Westminster, that predated Brown v. Board of Education by almost 10 years. It would desegregate schools in California, affecting more than 5,000 Latino children. Carefully taking actual text from trials and interviews with Sylvia Mendez, Tonatiuh edits the original language to fit the pacing of the story for the intended audience. Legal terms and Spanish words are translated and explained so young listeners will be able to comprehend this important story. Adriana Sananes narrates efficiently. Her voice uses various pitches for characters and paces her reading so listeners can keep up with the many names, places, and terms. This CD version includes an author's note and information about the text included in the story. An extremely important story that should be widely known. Highly recommended for all libraries.-Katie Llera, Bound Brook High School, NJ (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Tonatiuh (Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote) offers an illuminating account of a family's hard-fought legal battle to desegregate California schools in the years before Brown v. Board of Education. In 1944, after years of laboring as a field worker, Sylvia Mendez's father leases his own farm in Westminster, Calif. But even though Mexican-born Mr. Mendez is a U.S. citizen and his wife is Puerto Rican, their children are banned from the local public school and told they must attend the inferior "Mexican school." When all else fails, the Mendezes and four other families file a lawsuit. Readers will share Sylvia's outrage as she listens to a district superintendent denigrate Mexicans (Tonatiuh drew his words and other testimony from court transcripts). Visually, the book is in keeping with Tonatiuh's previous work, his simplified and stylized shapes drawn from Mexican artwork. He again portrays his characters' faces in profile, with collaged elements of hair, fabric, and fibrous paper lending an understated texture. An extensive author's note provides historical context (including that Sylvia Mendez received a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011) and urges readers to make their own voices heard. Ages 6-9. (May)■Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.