#WeNeedDiverseBooks that share our traditions with the rest of the world and rekindle the art of storytelling. When I was growing up as the daughter of Mexican immigrants in the southern-most tip of Texas, one of my favorite books was Stories That Must Not Die by Canadian-born Juan Sauvageau, a collection of the folktales and legends of that region. The stories included La Llorona, Dancing With a Ghost, La Lechuza, and other terrifying tales that left my nine-year old brain wondering if they were real or not. Because the stories were short, sharing them verbally with friends and family was easy and expected. The book encouraged the dying art of storytelling.
I recently looked for this book to share it with my children but was disappointed to discover it is out of print. I have tried finding a similar collection but have come up empty-handed. The Sauvageau book was notable because the stories were in both English and Spanish. His prose was detailed, lyrical, and strikingly realistic. I know there are children's books out there featuring Mexican/Latino characters and showcasing our legends, but not in a single, bilingual volume for kids.
The irony that a book titled Stories That Must Not Die is now out of print is not lost on me. In light of the recent #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, I have been more acutely aware of the paucity of books that showcase the beauty of my Mexican culture. It is much more than margaritas and sombreros. Our culture is filled with stories that inspire, educate, entertain, and sometimes just downright serve to terrify. I am so sad that while Stories That Must Not Die is highly reviewed on Goodreads, you cannot buy it unless you are willing to fork out anywhere from $80-300 to scammers. What a shame!
I wrote The Black Rose And Other Scary Stories That Really Happened To Me as an homage to Juan Sauvageau's collection, but also as a wish fulfillment of my own need for diverse books that share the beauty of my culture and encourage story telling. When was the last time that you, as a parent or teacher or librarian or grandparent or aunt/uncle or older sibling, told a story to a child? I hope that Black Rose, like Juan's books did for me, revitalizes the dying art of story telling. We must not let our traditional stories die, even if they go out of print.
Do you have any stories from your culture that you loved as a child? Share them in the comments section! And if you have an old copy of Stories That Must Not Die lying around, contact me through my website or Twitter. Let's chat!