Books by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand

OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2012

"A faithful, if uneven, retelling. (author's note) (Picture book/religion. 7-12)"
Bernier-Grand offers her version of the origins of the popular Mexican shrine. Read full book review >
ALICIA ALONSO by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2011

"She has been a ballerina, a teacher, a Cuban and a role model for those with handicaps. Truly a noteworthy life, poignantly rendered here. (notes, bibliography) (Picture books/biography. 8-14)"
A biography in poems and pictures of the prima ballerina assoluta of Cuba, who thrilled audiences for decades with her extraordinary technique and beautiful interpretations of Giselle and other classics. Read full book review >
POETRY
Released: Nov. 1, 2007

A striking appreciation pairs archival photographs and reproductions of the famed Mexican artist's work with image-rich free-verse poems. Writing primarily in the voice of the surrealist Frida Kahlo, Bernier-Grand presents readers with 26 poems that take her subject from birth to death, unswervingly touching upon the difficult territory in between: polio, the accident that led to some 31 subsequent operations, her (two) marriages to Diego Rivera, their mutual infidelities and her miscarriages. The poems often refer explicitly to Kahlo's works, as in "Wounded Deer"—"My barren landscapes show my barren self. / I have lost three children. / Four arrows in my heart / to remind Diego how his shots have made me bleed"—which appears opposite the startling self-portrait that places Kahlo's face atop a deer pierced with arrows. Beautiful design abets these juxtapositions, both poems and images set against generous white space, thick stock allowing no bleed-through on page turns. Captions help to elucidate the paintings but do not overwhelm. In all, it's an astonishing effort, buttressed by meaty backmatter that makes Kahlo accessible to a new generation in a way straight text never could. (Poetry. YA)Read full book review >
CÉSAR by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2004

Aimed at slightly older children than Kathleen Krull's Harvesting Hope (2003), this powerful biography in poems relates incidents in the life of César Chávez with insight and a sense of wonder. "Who could tell / that he with a soft pan dulce voice, / hair the color of mesquite, / and downcast, Aztec eyes, / would have the courage to speak up / for the campesinos." At the time of his death, César did not own a car and had never owned a house. The final words of the last poem are Chávez's own, and a fitting tribute: "True wealth is not measured in money or status or power. It is measured in the legacy we leave behind for those we love and those we inspire." The numerous Spanish phrases will make reading aloud a challenge for non-Spanish speakers, but learning to do so is worth the effort. Backmatter includes notes, a chronology, a list of sources, a prose narrative, a selection from Chávez's own words, and an extensive glossary. Diaz's softly beautiful and illuminating illustrations add much to this already rich celebration of César's life and legacy. (Poetry/biography. 9-12)Read full book review >
SHAKE IT, MORENA! by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2001

The arc of a young girl's typical school day gives structure to this presentation of a rich mixture of traditional songs, games, riddles, a few simple recipes, and stories from Puerto Rico. Bernier-Grand (In the Shade of the Nispero Tree, 1999, etc.) presents most selections in Spanish and English and provides tidbits of background information, sometimes describing the origin of the song or tale or noting a fact about an animal or a place mentioned in a song or a riddle. The music for the songs is printed at the end of the text. Perky children portraying the racial diversity of Puerto Rico appear in their school uniforms and their play clothes and go through the actions of their day—from early morning, rising to the strains of a "Waking Up Song" with alternate verses sung by parents and children, to bedtime, when "The Song of El Coquí," with its onomatopoetic refrain that imitates the sound of the ubiquitous island tree frog. Riddles are an important aspect of folklore in most Spanish-speaking cultures and math and animal riddles are included here, as are several stories (in English only), including a tale about the hummingbird that recalls the conflict between Caribs and Tainos in Pre-Columbian times and a Juan Bobo tale. The 27 lizards hiding in Delacre's (Salsa Stories, 2000, etc.) clear, vibrant watercolors depicting a rural town, will demand attention from readers as they pore over the other details of a contemporary society enlivened by tradition. Although there's not much documentation here, the presentation of this folkloric material is engaging. (Nonfiction. 5-10)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1999

PLB 0-531-33154-7 The backdrop of 1961 Ponce, Puerto Rico, is authentic and atmospheric but not enough to overshadow the one-idea plot. Teresa Giraux's seamstress mother is obsessed with class and race: she plots to get her 10-year-old daughter into high society and is aloof and unintentionally cruel about the darker skin tone of Teresa's friends and classmates. At first, Tere is oblivious to her mother's prejudices, but when she transfers to an exclusive private school, the Academia, she takes on her mother's bigoted behavior. Tere drops her best friend, Ana, who is darker than she is, and does her best to fit in with the Academia girls, who tend to be lighter in complexion. Predictably, Tere eventually sees the error of her ways with the gentle guidance of her father, her new friend, Marisol, and her own unpleasant experiences with discrimination. Teresa's mother suddenly and unconvincingly changes her ways, too. The story is neither fresh nor involving, allowing the island atmosphere to take over; accurately portrayed are such details as the chirping tree frogs, bright red flamboyan trees, and the consuming excitement leading up to Carnival. (Fiction. 9-12) Read full book review >
JUAN BOBO by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 30, 1994

In an attractive collection, subtitled Four Folktales from Puerto Rico, a Puerto Rican-born author and illustrator present their island's popular comic simpleton. Juan Bobo tries to carry water in a basket; he dresses the family pig in Mama's Sunday best; his attempts to be mannerly at table result in his getting nary a bite of a fine meal; and, though he fails to sell Mama's syrup as instructed, he does come home with payment and a full stomach besides. Though simplified, these versions are lively and retain much of the stories' humor; Nieves's bold designs, tropical colors, and stylized forms make an appropriate complement. Spanish versions are given in smaller type at the end. (Folklore/Easy reader. 5-9) Read full book review >