US, IN PROGRESS

Short Stories About Young Latinos

 
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BOOK OVERVIEW

This collection of twelve short stories is a groundbreaking look at the diverse Latinos who live in the United States. Meet many young Latinos living in the United States, from a young girl whose day at her father’s burrito truck surprises her to two sisters working together to change the older sister’s immigration status, and more.

Turn the pages to experience life through the eyes of these boys and girls, see their hardships, celebrate their victories, and come away with a better understanding of the many ways to be Latino in the United States today.

 

The process

 

ABOUT THE STORY

In 2007, a longtime Mexican-American friend told me about an unfortunate incident with the police and her sons that upended her family's peaceful life in the United States. When I encouraged her to tell her story to the media, she refused. She wanted to spare her sons further heartache. So, she and her husband decided to leave the life they had built in the United States to return to Mexico. My friend and husband were legal American residents. Their children were full American citizens.

Her decision left me unsettled. The feeling gnawed at me for years. I couldn’t understand why such a generous loving woman, who always thought of others before herself, was forced to leave. I firmly believed her story needed to be told. I started to read as much as I could about Latinos in the news. A picture began to emerge that reinforced my belief that, while we Latinos are an integral part of the American fabric and provide texture and richness to it, we remain elusive in children's books. So I set about creating a collection of stories that portray coming-of-age experiences in the context of current events that affect young Latinos in the United States. 

I spent years reading, listening, observing and collecting news articles. I spent months writing, rewriting, reading my stories aloud, and sharing them with fellow writers and editors.

The pile of research material and revised manuscripts grew tall as I pursued finding just the right voice for each individual story. I wrote my friend’s story, “The Attack,” from three different points of view before I found the right voice and tone. 

 
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 Emilio from 'The Attack' ©Lulu Delacre

Emilio from 'The Attack' ©Lulu Delacre

 

ABOUT THE ART

To illustrate my stories, I created unfinished portraits of the main characters with the goal of establishing a connection with the reader on an emotional level. Each mixed-media portrait began with a layer of torn newspaper. Then, I added a pencil drawing on a translucent plastic sheet called acetate. I finished the piece with pierced thin rice paper. Just as I began my research process with a true story or piece of reporting, so I began my illustrations, linking in this way expository and literary writing. I left the drawings incomplete to suggest that each young person is a work-in-progress. The top layer is rice paper pierced with tiny holes at equal intervals. The piercings increase in number, subtly marking the growing presence of Latinos in the United

 

 

SCHOOL PROGRAMS

PICKUP SOCCER WRITING WORKSHOP: A SCHOOL PROGRAM FOR MIDDLE GRADES.

After reading a short story from Us, in Progress Delacre shows students the process of creating fiction inspired by an article in the news. Then she guides students to begin their own story as they ponder a time when they found themselves in a situation and would have liked a different outcome. Recommended for grades 4-6.


US, IN PROGRESS: THE JOURNEY

45 min. Can you think of someone you care about who’s been treated unfairly after an event? We explore how writing fiction based on true events helps process difficult emotions. I share the writing and illustration process. Recommended for grades 5-7. Six graders love this one!

 

 

reviews + AWARDS

New York Public Library Best Books
Kirkus Best Books
Los Angeles Public Library Best Books
Malka Penn Award for Human Rights Honor Book
Booklist's Top 10 Diverse Fiction Books for Older and Middle Readers
Junior Library Guild Selection
CCBC Choices
CBC Notable in the Field of Social Studies

 

★ ”Beautifully written with candor, honesty and perfect brevity...Delacre illustrates as well, providing a gorgeous mixed-media portrait of each story’s main character. A collection not to be missed.”  –Booklist, starred review

★ “Pura Belpré honoree Delacre’s chronicles—each different from the next—offer moving snapshots of family heartbreak, disadvantage, dysfunctionality, heartbreak, privilege, and joy.” –Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Portraits are indeed beautiful...will surely inspire discussion of current issues.” –Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“This welcome update to short story collections such as Gary Soto’s Baseball in April and prose alternative to Alma Flor Ada’s Yes!: We Are Latinos is a solid addition to libraries and would also add much-needed diversity to classroom study.” –School Library Journal

"Delacre’s collection challenges existing misconceptions by giving readers an intimate and varied look into what it is like to be young and Latino in the United States today."–Horn Book Magazine


"...a great collection of short stories that address contemporary issues that affect young Latinos in our country."—YABookCentral

“Excellent…an important book, well-crafted to provide students with an important perspective.”—Children’s Book and Media Review