A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of sharing a presentation on diversity in kidlit with a class of Early Childhood Education students. It was a serious honor to be asked to present, and warmed my heart to see all these future educators so excited about children's lit with diverse characters. The problem, though, was in choosing what books to share with them -- so many great choices, so little space (and time).
So I enlisted Sprout to help me pick, asking him what books we've read that he really liked. And among those he described was today's feature, the absolutely amazing Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales. I wasn't surprised that he mentioned this one, since we've had it checked out more or less nonstop since it debuted last summer. But I was a bit shocked that I hadn't blogged about it yet. Seriously, I had to check through the archives just to be sure!
Lo and behold, this one slipped through the cracks for us, I guess. Time to right that imbalance pronto. Because, my friends, Niño is one fantastically fun read-aloud and it deserves as wide an audience as it can possibly get. I mean, I dare you to read this one aloud and not collapse in a fit of giggles, just due to the sound effects alone.
The story follows our hero, Niño, who we right away discover is a pretty formidable wrestler in the lucha libre style of wrestling. Don't worry if you're not familiar with the concept - Morales has a very nice author note at the end that will answer your kiddos' questions about this type of wrestling. Suffice to say that lucha libre is pretty over the top, and that's exactly what our hero loves about it. Niño fights against all matter of crazy opponents and defeats them all handily, with plenty of awesome comic-inspired "whunks" and "zzwaps". But in the final measure, there is one pair of foes not even a fearless undie-clad hero can defeat -- his baby sisters!
I asked Sprout what he likes best about this one and he said "everything". I tend to agree. From the fast pace, to the zany opponents, to the colorful backdrops and sprinkling of Spanish phrases throughout, Niño is a total winner. . . even if he can't hold out against two little charmers (but who ever could?).
Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales, published by Roaring Brook Press