Monday, February 23, 2015

Review: Nina Shor's Arte Popular

Title: Arte popular: Búscalo y encuéntralo (Folk Art: Look and Find)
Author: Nina Shor (Mexico)
Illustrator: Various artists (Mexico)
Publisher: Ediciones El Naranjo
Ages: 6+

The children's literature library in my university's education building has a great, growing collection of Spanish and dual language books, and I first noticed this title on the New Arrivals shelf a few months ago.  I love me some traditional arts and crafts and was curious to see what was inside, but I didn't have any time to stop and look at the book, so I left and forgot about it.

Until I saw the same book in that magical bookstore in Puebla and snatched it right up.

Arte popular is a treasure trove of Mexican folk art.  Each section of the book contains a different type of art from a particular region.  Large, detailed photographs, interviews with artists and craftspeople, and information about each art form's history and functions show readers how diverse and useful art can be.  For example, readers will learn that art can:

Be clothing (like huipiles in Oaxaca)

Depict religious beliefs and understandings 
(like Huichol tapestries in Nayarit, Jalisco, Durango, and Zacatecas)

Help people observe special occasions (like papel picado in Puebla)

Before introducing each art form, Nina Shor encourages readers to examine each work closely by providing them with a list of details to search for as well as questions to consider.  This challenge makes the book more interactive and asks children to think more deeply about what they're seeing.

Since the text is in Spanish and intended for more advanced readers, younger and/or monolingual English-speaking kids might need adult assistance when gleaning information from this book.  Children can certainly enjoy the artwork on their own, but their experiences with this book will be so much richer if they can access the text and learn about the meanings behind the photographs.  Therefore, I would recommend Arte popular to Spanish, dual language, Mexican American Studies, and Spanish-speaking art teachers.  Or, if you don't speak Spanish but know someone who wants to help you translate, go for it!  This book is too good to pass up.

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