Books by Alfonso Ruano

MY FRIEND by Elisa Amado
Released: Oct. 1, 2019

"An unsuccessful attempt to showcase the bridging power of friendship between cultures. (Picture book. 8-11)"
An unnamed upper-elementary-age Latinx girl meets an unnamed white girl on her first day at a new school, and an instant rapport is formed. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 11, 2016

"Poignant, heartbreaking, and, sadly, timely. (author's note) (Bilingual picture book/poetry. 8 & up)"
With tenderness and humanity, this bilingual book describes the hopes, fears, and uncertainties of the thousands of displaced children that arrive every year at the southern border of the United States. Read full book review >
TRICYCLE by Elisa Amado
Released: May 1, 2007

A discussion-starter if ever there was one, this brief episode contrasts wealth and poverty in an unnamed Latin American country. Young Margarita, the narrator, likes climbing the tree in her yard to peer over the high hedges. In one direction, she can see the gardener at work, and in the other, the three children and their mother who live in a shanty next door. One day, she spots the children surreptitiously pulling her tricycle through the hedge and hiding it—but rather than raise the alarm, she concocts a wild story for her mother, and declares that she doesn't need a trike anymore anyway. Amado puts plenty between the lines here, and Ruano does likewise in his neatly drawn scenes of green-lawn prosperity next to bare dirt and cast-off furniture—even adding a plainly symbolic volcano on the horizon. Economic extremes may not be so side-by-side visible in the U.S., but they certainly exist, and children on both sides of the metaphorical hedge would benefit from this invitation to think about that. (Picture book. 6-9)Read full book review >
THE COMPOSITION by Antonio Skármeta
Released: May 1, 2000

Well-meaning if heavy-handed, this picture book views a Latin American dictatorship through the eyes of a nine year old. Pedro doesn't understand why his parents listen so carefully to the radio broadcast every night. He knows that the streets are now full of soldiers, but until a friend's father is arrested, Pedro has really never thought about the turmoil that is going on in his country. Pedro finally asks if his father and mother are against the dictatorship; his father tells him that yes, he and Pedro's mother oppose the new regime. When Pedro asks if that means that he (Pedro) is also against the government, his mother answers, "Children aren't against anything. Children are just children." But despite this, Pedro has gotten the implicit message that he, too, is against the dictatorship. So when an army officer comes into Pedro's classroom and announces that the child who writes the best composition on the topic of what his or her parents do at home in the evening will win a prize, Pedro understands that he has to protect his parents. While he doesn't win the officer's prize, he does win the admiration and respect of his parents by ingeniously saying that his parents play chess every evening, all evening long. Although the story ends well for its heroes, the reader comes away with the distinct impression that Pedro hasn't been very well prepared by his parents. They tell their son the truth about their own political leanings, yet leave it up to Pedro to figure out that he's supposed to lie for them. The illustrations are unsophisticated, even a little amateurish (the depictions of Pedro aren't consistent from image to image), and only contribute to the book's heavily didactic tone. Useful, perhaps, for social-studies teachers trying to explain what life is like under a totalitarian regime, but not a particularly engaging work. (afterword) (Picture book. 7-10)Read full book review >