The Guadalajara Book Fair (FIL) is one of my favorite events of the year. I can always expect exciting new books, new connections, and worn-out shoes. There was one more take-away from the 2019 FIL: Mexican publishers need U.S. buyers more than ever.
I heard from several Mexican publishing friends that the current Mexican administration has made drastic cuts to cultural and educational spending. The cuts are especially difficult for independent publishers, who have produced a wider range of high-quality literature in recent years. This proliferation of diverse voices helps build Spanish library collections that resonate with patrons and students. With the decline of sales in Mexico, export sales become vital financial lifelines and affirmations that these independent books can be competitive in the global market.
So, while there were many excellent picks from South America and Spain, my top picks this year are focused on Mexico. Here are a few children’s titles:
Óscar y el murmullo del monte, by Marcos Almada Rivero, copyright 2019, Edelvives Mexico, softcover and library binding, ISBN 786077468271.
The 8th book in the Óscar el tlacuache picture book series from Editorial Progreso, the Mexican imprint of Edelvives. Óscar is a good-hearted, adventurous tlacuache (opossum) who is concerned about seeing so many of his favorite outdoor spaces impacted by development and industrialization. It has a more serious tone than the earlier books in the series but the message is very timely. Marcos Almada Rivero’s first U.S. publication, Señorita Mariposa, was released in 2019 by Penguin/Random House.
Gato negro, gato blanco, by Claire Garralon, copyright 2019, Leetra Ediciones, hardcover, ISBN 9786079779962. Translated from French.
This picture book’s easily-distinguished black and white illustrations and clever cat story make it an excellent choice for preschool storytimes. Leetra’s catalog of translations from the best in children’s literature throughout the world make it one of Mexico’s most globally-diverse publishers.
El niño maicero, by Patricia Van Rhijn, copyright 2019, Editorial Cidcli, paperback & library binding, ISBN 9786078351848.
This is an easy-to-follow cookbook for young chefs with traditional Mexican recipes centered on corn. It is actually a re-release of an older title in a larger format with updated art. Most children’s cookbooks in Spanish are from Spain, so an authentic Mexican cookbook for children fills a collection void.