JUAN'S SWEET AND SPICY MEMORY by Hee Jung Yoon

JUAN'S SWEET AND SPICY MEMORY

by ; illustrated by
Age Range: 5 - 8
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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this child’s introduction to Mexico, Juan prepares for the Cinco de Mayo festivities in his town.

A family of non–Spanish-speaking white tourists arrives, saying, “Taco? Taco?” Juan correctly guesses that they want—wait for it—tacos! As Juan shows the tourist family around, Yoon proceeds to provide facts about the Mexican culture, people, and food. Unfortunately, much of this information is either inaccurate or misleading. She claims that salsa is ground chili pepper “mixed with bell peppers, vinegar, and sugar” and asserts that Mexicans eat Tex-Mex food such as “chip-like nachos.” The simplistic declaration that the Aztecs “are the ancestors of the Mexican people,” when there were many different civilizations far older than the Aztecs such as the Olmecs, Zapotecs, and Maya, is worthy of a grade school report. The text’s awkward English phrasing also disrupts the narrative: “Juan, look at all those valuable corn.” Corr’s bright, primitive illustrations are colorful and lively but likewise misleading. Even taking into account artistic license, there is nothing to account for the anomalous placement of the Yucatán Peninsula’s Chichen Itzá and the central Mexican volcano Popocatepetl in the same landscape as the maguey plants of Tequila, Jalisco. Spanish flamenco dancers incongruously fill the Mexican plaza, and the male characters’ clothing and facial features are from all over the Caribbean, Latin America, and beyond.

The disparate visual and textual mélange of misinformation renders this well-intended but off-the-mark title skippable. (further information) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-939248-12-1
Page count: 38pp
Publisher: TanTan
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2017




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