Wednesday, June 21, 2006


LUCHA LIBRE: THE MAN IN THE SILVER MASK by Xavier Garza (Cinco Puntos)

With all of the hype that Jack Black's movie Nacho Libre is getting, I can't resist resurrecting this review!

Readers get a ringside seat alongside Carlitos, who has been taken to the Mexican professional wrestling match known as lucha libre. But where is Tio Vincente? He is missing all of the action: the entrance of the villainous rudos, and the heroic tecnicos who will battle them, all of the characters wearing colorful and dramatic masks and costumes. Best of all is Carlitos' hero, the mysterious Man in the Silver Mask, and it turns out that Tio Vincente might have been closer to the action than Carlitos could ever guess. Garcia does an impressive job of capturing the excitement of a sporting event, but even more so, there is a lot of affection and respect for this high drama of the wrestling match lucha libre, emblematic of the battle between good and evil and containing a history as colorful as the masks. The narrative is told in English on one page with the Spanish translation on the other. The life of Salvador Lutteroth Gonzalez, the book's inspiration, is shared briefly in an author's note at the end, and will have you believing in superheroes. Check out the photographs of real lucha libre stars on the endpapers! Even folks who are not fans of professional wrestling will be drawn into this mysterious world. Believe me, you will have a hard time wrestling this picture book out of the hands of an active little boy. (6 and up)

Also of interest:
SUPERHERO ABC by Bob McLeod (HarperCollins) A graphic artist behind Spiderman comic books shows his super powers with this brilliant, laugh-out-loud alphabet parody. (Astro-Man is Always Alert for an Alien Attack! He Avoids Aliens! He has Asthma! He's Awesome!" "Danger Man Does Daring Deeds Every Day! He's Dramatic! He Duels with Dragons! He Doesn't have a Dog!") Despite it's slightly snarky humor, it works as a concept book. Better yet, it had kids screaming with laughter as a read-aloud, and is just what the doctor ordered for those kids who collect comics, who like to draw their own superguys or invent their own "characters." Super creative! (6 and up)

On a personal note
If you have any formal questions about reading, literacy, book recommendations or children's literature, won't you please send them to me at esmeatripcodotcom with the subject heading "Dear PlanetEsme"? Your questions will be considered for an upcoming children's book advice column here at PlanetEsme Book-a-Day!

Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to support your local bookseller.

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