They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid's Poems

David Bowles (Author)
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Product Details

$12.95  $11.91
Cinco Puntos Press
Publish Date
November 27, 2018
5.5 X 8.3 X 0.4 inches | 0.35 pounds

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About the Author

David Bowles is a Mexican American author from south Texas, where he teaches at the University of Texas Río Grande Valley. He has written several award-winning titles, most notably The Smoking Mirror and They Call Me Güero. His work has also been published in multiple anthologies, plus venues such as The New York Times, School Library Journal, Strange Horizons, English Journal, Rattle, Translation Review, and the Journal of Children's Literature. In 2017, David was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters.


"Güero is a Mexican American border kid with nerdy tastes, pale skin, and red hair. Wishing he had been born with a darker complexion so no one would question his Mexican American heritage, Güero's family tell him to be grateful for the advantages his lighter hair and skin afford him and to use it to open doors for the rest of his family. Güero's voice carries this novel through a playful array of poetic forms, from sonnets to raps, free verse to haiku. VERDICT Vibrant and unforgettable, this is a must-have for all middle grade collections. Pair with both fiction and nonfiction books on immigration, forced cultural assimilation, and stories about contemporary Mexican American life." --School Library Journal (starred review)

"A variety of poetic forms distinguish the vignettes that paint a rich portrait of life on the border."--School Library Journal 2018 Best Books

"Snapchat, texting, woke teachers, K-pop/hip-hop, hybrid cars, and border troubles tie this story to today's times, but the rich characters who fill Güero's family, school, and neighborhood--Uncle Joe, Abuela Mimi, Joanna la Fregona, the three Bobbys, Bisabuela Luisa, and a dozen more--are the beating heart of this masterful novel-in-poems rooted in generations of culture, geography, and story." --Sylvia Vardell & Janet Wong, creators of The Poetry Friday Anthology series

"I love this book!"--Margarita Engle, 2017-2019 National Young People's Poet Laureate

"In this slim verse novel, Bowles splendidly translates border life via loosely connected vignettes in an eclectic mix of poetic forms. Güero's voice brims with humor, wit, and bits of slang, and a diverse cast of characters offers hints of other cultures. The author, however, does inject some complex themes and topics for rich discussion, touching on immigration, prejudice, and even the narrator's nickname, 'güero, ' a term used to refer to light-skinned men and boys. Güero occasionally faces flak from a few schoolmates on account of his pale, freckled skin and copper hair, resulting in a revealing exchange with his dad: 'M'ijo, pale folks catch all the breaks / here and in Mexico, too. Not your fault. / Not fair. Just the way it's been for years.' A valuable, too-brief look at the borderlands."--Kirkus

"With They Call Me Güero, Bowles has added an important text to borderland writing that would have made the great Gloria Anzaldúa proud. This is a collection that resonates with readers, and that given the current political landscape, demands to be read."--Pank

"THEY CALL ME GÜERO by David Bowles is a collection of poems which together form a loose narrative about a boy living in South Texas and occupying the physical but also social and emotional space that spans the US-Mexico border. The poems are short and ring clear with emotional and physical details that will strike a chord with any reader. There are many words in Spanish but none that would be a barrier to a reader who knows only English. The glossary in the back is more a courtesy than a necessity. Teachers will be delighted to find many poetic forms and devices used throughout which make it ideal for using in school. I also found it notable in that it doesn't shy away from the main character's spiritual practice. A gem from Cinco Puntos Press."--Rosanne Parry Blog

Américas Book Award Commended Title"While Bowles includes heavy themes of immigration, the sting of racism toward Güero, so called for his pale skin, and the ever-present psychological awareness of being a broder kid, lighter moments prevail: the market, music lessons, the best buds' bookworm squad, and family celebrations. Bowles artfully conveys Mexican culture and infuses Spanish words throughout this connected collection of 49 poems, and readers will resonate with the narrator's navigation through seventh grade."

"An achievement of both artistic skill and emotional resonance, Bowles's volume is both a richly rewarding tour through many borderlands, including adolescence itself, and a defiant celebration of identity: "no wall, no matter how tall, can stop your heritage."--Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

"They Call Me Guero: A Border Kid's Poems by David Bowles (a native of the South Texas borderlands, where he teaches at the University of Texas Río Grande Valley) is a compendium of poetry for young readers ages 8-12 and will prove to be a prized and welcome addition to school and community library collections."--Midwest Book Review

"Bowles confidently intersperses the voices of Güero's many family members, using Texas Spanglish colloquialisms with specificity (back matter includes a generous glossary and pronunciation key), in diverse poetic forms, resulting in a welcome contribution to the bildungsroman corpus of Chicana/o literature." --Lettycia Terrones, Horn Book

"With a glossary of Spanish words and phrases in the back, They Call Me Güero makes itself accessible to all readers without ever moving away from celebrating and directly addressing Spanish-speaking children."--Siân Gaetano, Shelf Awareness, Starred Review