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Niño Wrestles the World (Golden Kite Honors) Hardcover – June 4, 2013
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From School Library Journal
K-Gr 3–The first spread of this appealing title says it all. With the simple text “Niño!” (Kid!), readers see a boy playing with his toys, including a lucha libre wrestling ring with masked wrestler toys. One by one, Niño faces and defeats his formidable opponents: The Mummy of Guanajuato, the stone Olmec Head, La Llorona, the Alien, and the devil-like El Chamuco. But when his little sisters wake up from their naps, he faces his biggest challenge yet: Las Hermanitas. Everything about this book is well integrated and thought out: The endpapers are decorated with baseball-card-style information on each of Niño's opponents, including phonetic spellings of their Spanish names. Spanish words and phrases appear throughout, but they are easily understood in context. An author's note gives some background information about lucha libre and its popularity in Mexico. This is a near-perfect book, and absolutely essential for any collection. α(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Senoritas y señors! In this corner of the playroom, we have an energetic little boy whose traditional, outlandish Mexican luchadore wrestling costume consists of a pair of underwear and a bright red lucha libre mask. And in the opposite corner, an assortment of “out-of-this-world contenders” ready to take our brave Niño down. Introduced via fact boxes on the endpapers, the villains are an intimidating bunch, but Niño prevails over each thanks to one of his signature moves: the Guanajuato Mummy (the Tickle Tackle!), Olmec Head (the Puzzle Muzzle!), the Weeping Woman (the Doll Decoy!), and so forth. Each single-spread bout is announced by a title card in Spanish and features a plethora of nonsensical action words to go along with Niño’s attacks: zok, slish, bloop, spak, and so on. Morales’ illustrations have just enough competing font styles and explosive-looking backgrounds to conjure the feel of an authentic lucha libre poster, and kids with multicultural classmates will recognize (or learn) Niño’s many Spanish exclamations. A closing note explains the lucha libre culture. Zzzwap! Preschool-Grade 1. --Daniel Kraus
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¡Niño! ¡Niño! ¡Niño!” It is through this chant that we are introduced to Niño, a paleta eater, toy-loving, and acrobatic boy. Once Niño puts on his luchador mask, contenders such as La Momia de Guanajuato, La Llorona and Cabeza Olmeca, line up to challenge him. With his playful lucha style, Niño challenges his opponents with puzzles, dolls, marbles, popsicles and tickles, showing how Morales playfully incorporates childhood glee into this wonderful homage to lucha libre. At the end of the story we also meet Niño’s toddler sisters, who are mischievous and loud and drive Niño crazy! This is where Yuyi Morales uses the opportunity to capture and address siblings’ relationships, while showcasing the “best move” to defeat sibling rivalry.
I could not deny that it crossed my mind that Niño Wrestles the World, plays as a homage and retelling of the legacy of Mexican lucha icon, El Santo. Like El Santo, once Niño puts on his luchador mask, he never takes it off. Like El Santo, in his movies, Niño challenges the mummy of Guanajuato, the llorona, and aliens. And you could say that when later in the book Niño joins his sisters and challenges new opponents, we are seeing a retelling of adventures where El Santo joins fellow luchadores Blue Demon and Mil Máscaras. Setting the wonderful El Santo references aside, in this picture book we have a fun and energetic story and lovable characters that will release the inner luchador or luchadora in kids and adults of all ages.
Niño Wrestles the World is the 2014 Pura Belpré Illustrator Winner and was named a highly commended title by the 2014 Charlotte Zolotow Award. It was also included in a series of list such as A Fuse #8 Production 100 Magnificent Children’s Books 2013, School Library Journal Top 10 Latino-themed Books of 2013, Fanfare (Horn Book’s list of the best books for young people published in 2013), Center for the Study Multicultural Children’s Literature Best Multicultural Books of 2013 and Latinas for Latino Lit Remarkable Latino Children’s Literature of 2013.
This is a rare find for my nephew whom is of mixed heritage. It is hard to find a good and fun children's book with a boy as a main character and especially a brown boy!
Just around the corner, though, is the toughest match of all: a fight against his little sisters, Las Hermanitas! Will Niño’s winning streak come to an end?
Niño Wrestles the World is absolutely hilarious, and it’s a great way to teach little ones about the traditions behind lucha libre and Mexican culture. Vibrant illustrations add to the whizz-bang story and help make Morales’s book a real winner.
This review originally appeared on ABookandaHug.com
I'm not Spanish speaking, so it's very nice that the front and back pages have wonderful pronunciation & background on each character.
The drawings are vibrant, not scary, and my son loves Nino. (That could be because we're potty training, so running around in our undies is totally normal!)
Whether you are a Lucha Libre fan, or just a fan of great kids books, this one is a complete win!