Interview with “Migrant” author José Mateo

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Migrant, by José Mateo, illustrated by Javier Martínez Pedro. illustrations © Javier Martínez Pedro.

 

I spoke with author José Mateo about his inspiration for Migrant, the significance of the codex format, and what he hopes to achieve with this book’s publication.

In the spirit of Migrant, I have included the Spanish as well as the English translation of our conversation.

All translations are my own. 

¿Hubo una inspiración personal para esta historia? ¿Podría hablarnos de esa experiencia?
Was there a personal inspiration for this story?

En realidad no. Para escribir este relato me basé en diversos testimonios de niñas y niños migrantes tomados de la prensa, libros y documentales. También de historias personales que he escuchado desde hace por lo menos treinta años.

Not really, no. To write this story, I relied on testimony from migrant children taken from newspapers, books and documentaries as well as personal stories I’ve heard over the past thirty years.

¿Podría hablar un poco acerca de por qué usted utilizó el formato del Codex para el libro?
Could you talk a little about why you chose to write the book in codex form?

La idea es de Cristina Urrutia, editora con una amplísima experiencia y profundo conocimiento de la historia de México. Una vez que ella comentó la posibilidad de que el libro se armara a la manera de un códice prehispánico, mi tarea fue, más bien, pensar y organizar el relato en fragmentos narrativos que se ajustaran al número de dobleces que tendría el libro. Fue un proceso de mucho diálogo e intercambio de opiniones.

The idea is from Cristina Urrutia, an editor with extensive  knowledge of Mexico’s history.  She felt we should arm the book as a pre-Hispanic codex, and my task was to organize the story in narrative fragments adjusted to the number of folds in the book. It was a long process and we were in constant dialogue.

¿Sabía usted concibe este trabajo juntos? Las palabras y las imágenes son sin fisuras.
Did you and Mr. Pedro work together? The words and images are seamless.

Primero escribí la historia y fue con base en ella que Javier comenzó a ilustrar. Él y yo sólo conversamos una vez, cuando sólo le faltaba ilustrar la parte final del relato; intercambiamos entonces algunos puntos de vista sobre el aspecto de las ciudades estadounidenses.

En ese sentido, la ilustración de Migrar es única, no recuerdo ninguna otra imagen en papel amate donde se represente un viaje de migración con tanto detalle ni donde se incluyan espacios urbanos de Estados Unidos.

I  wrote the story first, and Javier worked with the text to create the illustrations. We only spoke once, when he was illustrating the final part of the story.  We also discussed various aspects of American cities.

The illustrations for Migrant are unique. I cannot recall any other images on amate paper where both the illegal immigration journey  and U.S. urban spaces are rendered in such detail.

La lucha de la inmigración continúa. ¿Qué espera lograr con la publicación de este libro? ¿Has visto notable cambio (positivo o negativo)?
The immigration struggle continues. What do you hope to achieve with the publication of this book? Have you seen any (positive or negative) change?

Nuestra intención era colocar en primer plano la experiencia de las niñas y los niños que se ven obligados a dejar su casa y, en la medida de lo posible, señalar que nuestro país no cumple con los derechos que deberían estar garantizados para toda la población infantil. Queríamos que el libro incorporara la realidad compleja que experimentan las familias; que se notara cómo las madres, los padres, las hijas y los hijos luchan por mantenerse unidos y cómo uno de los propósitos de la migración tiene que ver con la lucha por conseguir un trabajo. Sin un trabajo digno y bien remunerado, las familias quedan en riesgo padecer hambre, enfermedades e incluso de ser víctimas de los criminales o de autoridades sin escrúpulos.

Our intention was to highlight the experience of children who are forced to leave home and note that our country does not comply with certain rights that should be guaranteed for all children We wanted the book to incorporate the complex reality experienced by families: The struggle of mothers, fathers, daughters and sons to stay together: How one of the purposes of migration revolves around the struggle to get a job. Without decent and well-paid work, families are at risk of hunger and disease. They  even become victims of criminals or unscrupulous authorities.

¿Hay algo más que le gustaría compartir con nuestros lectores sobre este libro impresionante?

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about this stunning book?

Sólo me gustaría añadir que el relato recupera en parte otra experiencia de lectura: la del escritor José Revueltas, para mí el mejor de los narradores y ensayistas que dio México en el siglo XX. Gazul, el nombre del perro que aparece en la historia, viene de una de las novelas de Revueltas.

José Revueltas is, for me, one of the best storytellers to come out of Mexico in the twentieth century. Gazul, the dog that appears Migrant, comes from one of Revuelta’s novels.

Interview with “Migrant” author José Mateo

image

Migrant, by José Mateo, illustrated by Javier Martínez Pedro. illustrations © Javier Martínez Pedro.

 

I spoke with author José Mateo about his inspiration for Migrant, the significance of the codex format, and what he hopes to achieve with this book’s publication.

In the spirit of Migrant, I have included the Spanish as well as the English translation of our conversation.

All translations are my own. 

¿Hubo una inspiración personal para esta historia? ¿Podría hablarnos de esa experiencia?
Was there a personal inspiration for this story?

En realidad no. Para escribir este relato me basé en diversos testimonios de niñas y niños migrantes tomados de la prensa, libros y documentales. También de historias personales que he escuchado desde hace por lo menos treinta años.

Not really, no. To write this story, I relied on testimony from migrant children taken from newspapers, books and documentaries as well as personal stories I’ve heard over the past thirty years.

¿Podría hablar un poco acerca de por qué usted utilizó el formato del Codex para el libro?
Could you talk a little about why you chose to write the book in codex form?

La idea es de Cristina Urrutia, editora con una amplísima experiencia y profundo conocimiento de la historia de México. Una vez que ella comentó la posibilidad de que el libro se armara a la manera de un códice prehispánico, mi tarea fue, más bien, pensar y organizar el relato en fragmentos narrativos que se ajustaran al número de dobleces que tendría el libro. Fue un proceso de mucho diálogo e intercambio de opiniones.

The idea is from Cristina Urrutia, an editor with extensive  knowledge of Mexico’s history.  She felt we should arm the book as a pre-Hispanic codex, and my task was to organize the story in narrative fragments adjusted to the number of folds in the book. It was a long process and we were in constant dialogue.

¿Sabía usted concibe este trabajo juntos? Las palabras y las imágenes son sin fisuras.
Did you and Mr. Pedro work together? The words and images are seamless.

Primero escribí la historia y fue con base en ella que Javier comenzó a ilustrar. Él y yo sólo conversamos una vez, cuando sólo le faltaba ilustrar la parte final del relato; intercambiamos entonces algunos puntos de vista sobre el aspecto de las ciudades estadounidenses.

En ese sentido, la ilustración de Migrar es única, no recuerdo ninguna otra imagen en papel amate donde se represente un viaje de migración con tanto detalle ni donde se incluyan espacios urbanos de Estados Unidos.

I  wrote the story first, and Javier worked with the text to create the illustrations. We only spoke once, when he was illustrating the final part of the story.  We also discussed various aspects of American cities.

The illustrations for Migrant are unique. I cannot recall any other images on amate paper where both the illegal immigration journey  and U.S. urban spaces are rendered in such detail.

La lucha de la inmigración continúa. ¿Qué espera lograr con la publicación de este libro? ¿Has visto notable cambio (positivo o negativo)?
The immigration struggle continues. What do you hope to achieve with the publication of this book? Have you seen any (positive or negative) change?

Nuestra intención era colocar en primer plano la experiencia de las niñas y los niños que se ven obligados a dejar su casa y, en la medida de lo posible, señalar que nuestro país no cumple con los derechos que deberían estar garantizados para toda la población infantil. Queríamos que el libro incorporara la realidad compleja que experimentan las familias; que se notara cómo las madres, los padres, las hijas y los hijos luchan por mantenerse unidos y cómo uno de los propósitos de la migración tiene que ver con la lucha por conseguir un trabajo. Sin un trabajo digno y bien remunerado, las familias quedan en riesgo padecer hambre, enfermedades e incluso de ser víctimas de los criminales o de autoridades sin escrúpulos.

Our intention was to highlight the experience of children who are forced to leave home and note that our country does not comply with certain rights that should be guaranteed for all children We wanted the book to incorporate the complex reality experienced by families: The struggle of mothers, fathers, daughters and sons to stay together: How one of the purposes of migration revolves around the struggle to get a job. Without decent and well-paid work, families are at risk of hunger and disease. They  even become victims of criminals or unscrupulous authorities.

¿Hay algo más que le gustaría compartir con nuestros lectores sobre este libro impresionante?

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about this stunning book?

Sólo me gustaría añadir que el relato recupera en parte otra experiencia de lectura: la del escritor José Revueltas, para mí el mejor de los narradores y ensayistas que dio México en el siglo XX. Gazul, el nombre del perro que aparece en la historia, viene de una de las novelas de Revueltas.

José Revueltas is, for me, one of the best storytellers to come out of Mexico in the twentieth century. Gazul, the dog that appears Migrant, comes from one of Revuelta’s novels.

I Lived on Butterfly Hill Review by Nicole Claire.m4v

I Lived on Butterfly Hill Review by Nicole Claire.m4v

© 2014

THE STORY OF BUILDINGS. Copyright © 2014  by Patrick Dillon and Stephen Biesty. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

“The Story of Buildings: From the Pyramids to the Sydney Opera House and Beyond,” by Patrick Dillon, illustrated by Stephen Biesty; Candlewick Press, $19.99, 96 pages, ages 9-13. 

From the Pyramids to an otherwise unremarkable apartment building, wonderment awaits readers in this oversize volume dedicated to the remarkable achievement of erecting massive structures.  Architect Patrick Dillon explores the human desire to reach for the heavens by using stone, mortar, and ingenuity. Perfectionists, or actual draftsmen, will lament the lack of an index or bibliography, but young readers will likely forgive that transgression thanks to the fantastic art. Stephen Bietsy’s illustrations are as grand as the structures he depicts – some gloriously spill onto gatefolds in minuscule detail, allowing for prolonged examination of windows, doors and columns.  Budding architects will find inspiration in Bietsy’s work to plan their own museums, temples, and skyscrapers.

“Five-Plant Gardens,” by Nancy Ondra, photographs by Rob Cardillo; Storey Publishing, $18.95, 184 pages.

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Excerpted from Five-Plant Gardens © Nancy J. Ondra. Photography by © Rob Cardillo. Illustrations by Beverly Duncan. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

In this, the inaugural post for Literary Features Syndicate’s new webpage, we welcome the return of spring by sharing a book that heralds the arrival of warmer weather, and entices readers to work their backyards into striking rainbow oases.

Veteran horticultural writer Nancy Ondra takes the guesswork out of designing perennial gardens in this guidebook geared to the novice or perpetually brown-thumbed gardener.  In addition to defining useful terms, such as annual vs. perennial plants, Ondra, proposes that anyone will find success planting these gardens using five main plants.  She even maps out how and where to stake out a plot.  Perhaps most encouraging of all, all of the plants in the book are relatively inexpensive and are found at most major garden stores. Ondra estimates that a gardener can plant an entire garden over the course of a weekend at a cost of about $200.

The gardens in this book are divided by light exposure and soil moisture content, leaving little room for error when choosing sun or heat-tolerant species.  Ondra’s bright, color-coordinated planting plans complement beautifully Rob Cardillo’s bright photographs of various ferns, herbs and flowers.

This tome offers a jolt of encouragement that an eye-catching, well-planned and budget-friendly garden is within the reach of any gardener. 

AVIARY WONDERS INC. ©2014 Kate Samworth. Reproduced with permission from HMH Books for Young Readers.

“Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual: Renewing the World’s Bird Supply since 2031,” by Kate Samworth, Clarion Books, $17.99, 32 pages, ages 9-12.

Hunting, habitat loss and climate change are driving bird species to extinction at a record clip. But what if carrier pigeons could once more take flight, simply by assembling various interchangeable parts?  Debut author-illustrator Kate Samworth explores this imaginative possibility in a book that is by turns funny and unsettling.  Samworth says the inspiration to sketch a bird catalog came after listening to New Orleans residents talk about the eerie lack of birdsounds post-Katrina.  

Modeled after an old-fashioned mail-order catalog, this fantasy avian sales prospectus is the brainchild of logging company magnate Alfred Wallis, who established Aviary Wonders Inc. after noticing that birds vanished shortly after loggers chopped down their homes. The catalog offers an assortment of feathers, bodies, beaks and legs for bird lovers to create a  feathered friend to call their very own.  The second half of the catalog is amusingly devoted to assembly, troubleshooting tips, and even includes an order form. 

The ‘catalog’ is peppered with cheeky advertising banter alongside some very real facts about endangered and extinct species. Samworth’s stunning oil paintings are as bright and cheerful as the underlying message of habitat destruction is serious. 

Aviary Wonders Inc. flies solo as one of the most unique books for bird-lovers of all ages, and despite its zany premise, will spur lively environmental and scientific discussions.