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Suggested Teaching Resources for Guadalupe Garcia McCall’s Under the Mesquite

By Danny Colin, Amanda Coney,  Rachael Imes, Leslie Ochoa, and Maricela Ochoa

Amy S. Welch M.A, Martha E. Wadsworth B.A, Bruce E. Compas Ph.D. “Adjustment of Children and Adolescents to Parental Cancer.American Cancer Society. n.p December 06, 1998.

This article gives students the opportunity to examine how children and adolescents react emotionally and behaviorally when they find out that their parent(s) have been diagnosed with cancer. This resource also gives  great insight into how the symptoms of anxiety and depression can vary depending on the age and sex of the child. According to this study, adolescent girls were reported to have more symptoms than boys. This article is a good resource because students can make several connections with the book Under the Mesquite, such as how the author depicts Lupita to be the most affected of all the children, perhaps because she’s a female and she is the eldest. Garcia McCall also illustrates the troubles and responsibilities that fall on Lupita with the news of her mother’s cancer and then with her anticipated death. Because it provides information on how adolescents fall into depression when their parents have cancer, the article helps readers understand Lupita’s emotions when she discovers that her mother has been diagnosed with this terrible illness. This article not only provides great information for students to connect with the story in book, but suggests how parents can seek professional help to cope with their children’s distress and psychosocial adjustments. We consider this article a great option for answering questions regarding cancer and for finding parents and their children coping skills.

Discussion Questions for Under the Mesquite.” Lee and Low.  Lee & Low Books. n.d. Web. Apr 2013. 

For teachers, it is important to ask questions that not only fully engage the student/reader, but also that ensure the student/reader is retaining the information read. Lee and Low Books provides discussion questions for all kinds of literature, among many other tools and resources. The website provides thought-provoking questions about Under the Mesquite that will ensure discussion. They make sure to provide questions that students can answer and questions that students will learn from. The website provides specific examples and even page numbers where students can find information to help them find the answers. This would serve as a very valuable tool for instructors, or for any reader of Under the Mesquite.

Foster, Thomas C.  How to Read Literature like a Professor. Harper-Perennial, 2003.  Print.

Foster’s book is an insightful and entertaining guide to reading literature and understanding the hidden and not so hidden symbols in stories/poetry/novels. Foster tackles the most basic symbols seen in literature, such as plants, disease, quests, weather, sex, geography, etc. Foster deciphers what these symbols normally mean, but explains that each reader must take on the role of interpreter. This is a good source because Guadalupe Garcia McCall’s Under the Mesquite presents quite a few of these symbols, including plants (the mesquite), disease (cancer), and geography (Mexico/US). By realizing that these are symbols and what they might indicate, we can better understand what the writer is trying to convey. We go beyond the superficial and allow our minds to ponder the writer’s more profound ideas.  This resource is good not only for this story, but for all fictional readings, in general.

Markward Brian, Steigerwald Brandon, Merlino Joe, Burton John. Instant Poetry Forms.  Educational Technology Training Center.  n.d.  Web.  March 1, 2013.

When reading the book Under the Mesquite we become aware of how Guadalupe Garcia integrates very emotional poetry throughout her work. Her free verse novel gives us the opportunity to be part of a haunting story which many of us can relate to. Since poetry is a great method that helps convey the feelings of a character, we believe that incorporating this method of fee-verse in a book could provide more of an emotional impact on the reader. Poetry could be constructed from many different characteristics and it is really fun and easy to write. We decided to choose this website because we think it’s a great resource that gives many opportunities for students. It helps students understand poetic forms, expand critical thinking skills, and develop the ability to enjoy poetry in general. The site also provides techniques that allow students to be playful with their minds. It provides the opportunity to create poetry from many different perspectives. The student can create it by talking about someone else, their biography, or even about life lessons. It could also enhance a student’s energy, positivism, self-esteem and beliefs.

McCall, Guadalupe Garcia. Guadalupe Garcia McCall.  2010.  Web.  February 26, 2013.           

When authors have their very own website, created and maintained by themselves, the reader is given a great opportunity to further explore the writers’ work, ideas, and life. Garcia McCall’s website is no exception. In her website, Garcia McCall gives a small autobiography, touches on a few of the experiences she writes about in Under the Mesquite, and includes life experiences that have happened post-Under the Mesquite. Also, she includes a list of her other works and places where one could find her work. She even gives her email address and a list of her upcoming appearances. This would prove beneficial for those who want to meet or chat with Garcia McCall in person.

Navarrette, Ruben Jr. “My Mexican-American Identity Crisis”. CNN. n.p. November 30, 2012.  Web.  4/30/2013.

In his article, Ruben Navarrette describes a conflict between Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. He himself was born in America, but he feels very  much Mexican. The problem he faces is when he goes to Mexico he feels as if he is stigmatized, as if he is not fully accepted as a Mexican. When he is in the US, on the other hand, he also feels as if he is not accepted as completely American. Such is the situation with Lupita in Under the Mesquite. She feels stigmatized at her school because her friends feel that her attempts to lose her accent mean she is turning against her heritage. As her accent changes, her friends call her on it. Lupita feels Mexican; she is confident of who and what she is. This article gives us a real life depiction of a modern-day Mexican-American identity crisis. We can use this not only as a reminder that this problem is real and persistent, but also as an alternative take (different time and place) on the same situation.

Spicer, Ed. “Guadalupe Garcia McCall Interview”. Online video clip. Youtube. 21. Feb. 2012. Web. 4 Apr. 2013.

We found this wonderful interview on YouTube. In this video, Ed Spicer interviews Garcia McCall about her writing career, about Under the Mesquite, and about being a Latino college student. She explains the mixture of fact and fiction within her book, and also discusses the many awards she received for it. In the interview, Garcia McCall switches between English and Spanish, just as she does in her book. Garcia McCall also gives valuable advice to Latino parents whose children plan to attend college someday. We included this video because we feel it’s important for readers to see the human side of every writer. Hearing the story behind the verses also allows the reader to appreciate the work involved in writing a book.  This video gives the writer a voice, a voice that the reader can connect with the verses as they read Under the Mesquite. This clip is different from her website in the sense that it actually allows the reader to hear Garcia McCall’s spoken voice.

 

educationforjustice.org

educationforjustice.org

Under the Same Moon. Dir. Patricia Riggen. Perf. Eugenio Derbez, Kate del Castillo, Carmen Salinas, Adrian Alonzo. 2007. Film.

Under the Same Moon is a Latin-American film which depicts the conflicting relationship between a hard-working single mother and her only son. This film illustrates how being separated from a parent can negatively impact someone’s life. The conflict begins when financial problems cause the boy’s mother to leave her son behind in Mexico under the care of his maternal grandmother. Such a separation can result in various types of psychological strain to young children such as fear, worry, dread, and even depression. This theme can also be seen in the book Under the Mesquite. Unexpected deaths link the film and the novel.  We witness firsthand how at a very young age Carlitos experiences the emotional pain from not only the separation from his mom, but also from the unexpected death of his maternal grandmother. Having no family to care for him, he makes a risky decision to cross the border in search of his mother. We chose this film even though it is different from Under the Mesquite because we believe that there are similar aspects, such as emotional, sentimental and inspirational features.  The author of the book and the director of the film both do a great job of creating and portraying heart-warming stories about characters that many of us can relate to.

“Undocumented Students: DREAMers Pathway to College.” Choose Your Future. Chicago Public Schools, n.d. Web.  25, Apr. 2013.

A big issue that Lupita encounters in her story is her desire to further her education after high school. The issue arises because she is a first generation immigrant; therefore, her family is not educated on the whole college process. Garcia-McCall also describes this situation in one of her interviews. Naturally, this book will attract readers who themselves are immigrants, many of who will be undocumented. This resource contains a plethora of information regarding the college process for an undocumented student. Many teachers do not know how to help out students who are not legal residents or who do not know where to begin on their pursuit for a college degree. This site gives information on how to fill out applications for college, choosing a major, finding financial aid and scholarships, and finding support within the community. This tool would prove very useful for student and teachers alike.

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2013 in Under the Mesquite

 

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Suggested Reading for Pat Mora’s My Own True Name

By Tanya Baylon, Christopher Duong, Travis Edwards, and Ruby Ruiz

1.  “The Expanding Canon: Teaching Multicultural Literature – Theory Overview.” Learner.org. The Annenberg Foundation. Web. 23 Feb. 2012.
http://http://www.learner.org/workshops/hslit/session1/index.html?pop=yes?pop=yes

In this hour-long video from the Annenberg Learner, Pat Mora is seen at the twenty-minute mark teaching in a classroom. During her lecture she reads the teenage students one of her poems. We get to see how Pat Mora emphasizes the tone and pace of various words in her poetry. In the student exercise, we get to hear teenagers interpret Mora’s poems. At the end of her lesson, she explains the poem she read and the actual story behind it. It is interesting to learn, for example, how she takes the life story of a friend and transforms it into a poem. By learning the exact background information of the poem, we see how she incorporates her culture into her works.

2.  Melendez, Maria.  “An Interview With Pat Mora.” An Interview With Pat Mora. Web. 23 Feb. 2012. <http://latinopoetryreview.com/>.

Pat Mora has written six bilingual poetry books. On the Latino poetry review website there is an interview between Maria Melendez and Pat Mora. During her interview she mentions that My Own True Name was assembled after a librarian said more books with a Latino focus were needed for high school students. Mora later says she finds ways to incorporate not only Spanish but other languages into her work. In the interview she brings up the fact that about 2% of the 5,000 children’s books published each year are by or about Latinos, which can cause conflicts in educational success because not enough books are published for Latino/a and other children who want to learn about the culture.

3.  Mora, Pat. “Bookjoy!: Books for Teens.” Bookjoy! Pat Mora. Web. 23 Feb. 2012.  <http://sharebookjoy.blogspot.com/search/label/books%20for%20teens>

This is Pat Mora’s personal blog, Bookjoy!, which she started in 2008. Its main focus is “celebrating the zing of creativity, reading, and día.” The posts include discussions of Latino children’s literature and community partnerships as well as interviews with various authors. More specifically, she has a category on her blog labeled “books for teens.” In this section, she has interviewed authors who write in the same genre as My Own True Name, such as Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Dr. Carol Brochín Ceballos, and Christina Díaz Gonzalez. Her interviewees span from award-winning authors to teachers with published novels. These authors have a lot in common with Mora, and it sounds like their books do as well, as they typically involve bicultural and bilingual characters and plot lines. Mora also has posts encouraging teens to ask her about her latest young adult books.

4.  Mora, Pat. “Bookjoy!: Dizzy.” Bookjoy! Pat Mora. Web. 23 Feb. 2012.  <http://sharebookjoy.blogspot.com/2010/01/dizzy.html>

Mora, Pat. Dizzy in Your Eyes: Poems About Love. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010. Print.

Dizzy in Your Eyes is Pat Mora’s most recent teen book. The collection of fifty new poems express emotions as Mora thinks they are experienced by those in their early adult years. Each poem is told by a different (fictional) teen narrator. Her inspiration and incentive for writing this book was finding out that “boys sometimes copied [love] poems and signed their names” and then gave them to girls. Upon hearing this, Mora decided that she wanted to create a book of poems that really speak to her teen audience. With her knowledge of teens copying love poems, she decided to incorporate their interest in poetry into her book. In Mora’s footnotes, she explains the type of poetic form used for each poem. Not only is this an educationally fresh ingredient to her literacy campaign, but it also gives teens motivation to write their own verses.

5.  Mora, Pat. Borders. By Pat Mora, Award-winning Poet and Author of Books for Adults, Young Adults and Children. Web. 23 Feb. 2012. <http://www.patmora.com/book_pages/borders.htm>.

Borders is one of Pat Mora’s six collections of poetry. The book was published in 1986 and received the Southwest Book award in 1987. The book was aimed at adults and young adults, as it explores political, cultural, social, and emotional issues that shape an individual’s identity and that can divide people. The poems in Borders show how our positions respecting these borders shape how we define ourselves. According to the Bloomsbury Review, in Borders, “Mora confronts the clash of cultures in a courageous, tough tone that masks a gentle sensibility. What finally gives this book its healing power is the mesmerizing honesty of Mora’s celebration of herself as a woman, mother, lover.”

6.  Mora, Pat. Communion. By Pat Mora , Award-winning Poet and Author of Books for Adults, Young Adults and Children. Web. 23 Feb. 2012. <http://www.patmora.com/book_pages/communion.htm>.

Communion was published in 1994 by Pat Mora and was aimed toward adults and young adults. It is the third of her six poetry collections. Communion is built upon her other writings and her new experiences in life but has more deepness and maturity in its poems. The collection can be universally appealing, since it takes into account the reality of male and female relationships, the pain of separations from children, the significance of one’s homeland, and the traditions affecting one’s life. According to Betsy Colquitt in the Texas Review of Books, Communion “ is aptly titled: her poems often reveal a communion of sorts between poet and subject that inspires the poet’s empathetic, imaginative response.”

7.  “Pat Mora.” Interview by Teaching Books. Teaching Books. 28 Jan. 2008. Web. 23 Feb. 2012. <http://www.teachingbooks.net/content/Mora_qu.pdf>.

In this interview by Teaching Books, Pat Mora discusses not only her writing but also her life and her reasons for writing poetry, her favorite genre. In this interview, she explains that she writes in Spanish to show children who are embarrassed to speak Spanish that there are assets to speaking the language in certain places. In her book Tomas and the Library Lady, for instance, she inserts many Spanish phrases. Mora also explains how she wants her poetry to convey that it is natural for women to be strong and outspoken. In her book Doña Flor: A Tall Tale About a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart, for example, Dona Flor plays a strong female role by showing not great physical strength but a large capacity for love.

8.  “A Video Interview With Pat Mora.” Reading Rockets. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. Web. 23 Feb. 2012.
<http://www.readingrockets.org/books/interviews/mora/>

Pat Mora is an avid supporter of literacy, especially in children. She is a featured author for a national multimedia literacy organization called Reading Rockets. On their website, a concise biography of Mora is available along with ten video conversations with topics ranging from childhood stories to her literacy advocacy program. The biography expands upon and explores her bicultural upbringing, which provides us with the background knowledge to understand the American and Mexican contexts involved in her poems. The video conversations compliment the biography, with Pat Mora describing her Mexican/American home, and then discuss how and why she writes fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Mora believes that successful writing is done by “bringing everything we are to the page.” This advice influences her poems about desert culture and ties into the final video conversations, which explain her literacy program for children.

 

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