Librarian book recs feature Latinx focus


Berkeley High School celebrates Latinx Heritage Month at the library, where the staff has gathered many books featuring Latinx and Chicanx culture. Librarians Sarah Rosenkrantz, Meredith Irby, and Nicole Fitzhugh highlighted a few books on the official BUSD Latinx reading list. 

“Ballad and Dagger”, by Daniel José Older, kept Fitzhugh on the edge of her seat. In the book, Mateo Matisse, a Cuban-American eleventh grader and piano prodigy, is entangled in Caribbean mythology as he awakens his magic healing abilities. 

To Fitzhugh, “the idea of making him a godly character and involving magic is a way of magnifying that story of how you want to be part of something bigger — you want to be part of a family, you want to be part of a culture, you want to be part of a story, but you also want to be yourself.” She said that the book “mixes Afro-Latine/x, Hispanic, and Sephardic Jewish culture, along with pirates.”

Irby found plenty to love in “Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide”, a graphic novel biography by Isabel Quintero and Zeke Peña. Graciela Iturbide is an photographer who has a “focus on documenting indigenous cultures and uplifting and just representing them in this really beautiful light,” said Irby. “Photographic” “chronicles how Graciela carved her own path in a male-dominated field,” and paints a beautiful portrait of the “underappreciated” artist.

Rosenkrantz was moved by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland’s “How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe”, which follows Moon Fuentez, a Mexican-American young woman who feels overshadowed by her twin sister. After the death of her father, Moon embarks upon a cross-country summer road trip. Rosenkrantz stated that the book “addresses how… we honor spirituality and culture in our everyday lives.” The book features “light romance and is heavy on the issues of body image and self-worth, and healing relationships with our families and ourselves.” 

Rosenkrantz explained that “How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe” and other books representative of Latinx culture are necessary for BHS. 

“We need a variety of stories representing a diversity of life experiences so that students can find pieces of themselves… And I think we’re starting to see that with the amount of Latinx authors that are getting published, and whose stories are being told.”

Find the full reading list here.