An insightful novel in verse about the joys and struggles of a Chicana girl who is a warrior for her name, her history, and her right to choose what she celebrates in life.
Celina and her family are bilingual and follow both Mexican and American traditions. Celina revels in her Mexican heritage, but once she starts school it feels like the world wants her to erase that part of her identity. Fortunately, she’s got an army of family and three fabulous new friends behind her to fight the ignorance. But it’s her Gramma who’s her biggest inspiration, encouraging Celina to build a shield of joy around herself. Because when you’re celebrating, when you find a reason to sing or dance or paint or play or laugh or write, they haven’t taken everything away from you. Of course, it’s not possible to stay in celebration mode when things get dire--like when her dad’s deported and a pandemic hits--but if there is anything Celina’s sure of, it’s that she’ll always live up to her last name: Guerrera--woman warrior--and that she will use her voice and writing talents to make the world a more beautiful place where all cultures are celebrated.
About the Author
Dr. Carmen Tafolla (carmentafolla.net) is the 2015 State Poet Laureate of Texas and the former president of the TexasInstitute of Letters. An award-winning poet and children’s author, storyteller, performance artist, motivational speaker, scholar, and university professor, she is the author of more than forty books and a professor emeritus of Transformative Children’s Literature at UT San Antonio. Her numerous awards and distinctions include the prestigious Américas Award, the designation of first city Poet Laureate of San Antonio, six International Latino Book Awards, two Tomás Rivera Book Awards, two ALA Notable Books, the Art of Peace Award, and the Charlotte Zolotow Award. She lives in San Antonio, Texas.
* “Using rhythmic first-person verse, Tafolla presents messages about the importance of family and friends, social justice, and using one’s voice to incite change. . . . Via the protagonist’s journey to articulate her complex feelings through succinct and polished phrases, Tafolla crafts an astute and evolving heroine. The lyrical verse—structured as Celi’s own poetry, which teachers and Gramma embolden her to pursue—eventually culminates in powerful vocalizations of Celi’s values.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Tafolla skillfully weaves . . . significant recent historic moments and the hopeful stories of leaders like Emma Tenayuca and César Chávez together with the more specific experiences of the four friends. . . . Protagonist Celi, an emerging poet, is consistently and vividly rendered . . . and her righteous, powerful, and joyful voice carries the day. An exuberant, rousing celebration of youth activism.” —Kirkus Reviews
“On top of her worries about her father who has been deported, Celina must face a challenging pandemic, fear of her grandmother catching the virus, and finding joy despite it all. But she is a Guerrera, a woman warrior; she has a voice and writing talent, and she can still use that to show the world the beauty of all cultures. Written in verse, this is a timely novel that tackles various struggles teens face, including desire to belong, family conflict, and fighting for what you believe in. Tafolla skillfully writes Celina’s voice as a young girl, and allows it to mature as she does. . . . An insightful, timely, and discussion-worthy read. This beautifully written contemporary novel is a highly recommended purchase.”—School Library Journal
“With the help of her friends, Celina gains the courage to be the warrior she was meant to be by making a difference with her writing. Readers who enjoy novels in verse will be moved by Tafolla’s touching story. This is an emotional novel about the journey of finding where you belong, making your voice heard, and the friendships you can forge along the way.” —Booklist