The Best Mariachi in the World / The Best Mariachi in the World / The Best Mariachi in the World / The Best Mariachi in the World / The Best Mariachi in the World / The Best Mariachi in the World / The Best Mariachi in the World

Raven Tree Press, 2008

This title was published in hardcover and paperback

, in English-only, and what the publisher labels "Bilingual-with mostly English and concept words in Spanish formats." (For those who may not know-apparently including the publisher-a bilingual book contains the complete text in two languages.)

Summary: "Gustavo wants to be in the family mariachi band [sic], but he can not play the violins [sic], trumpets or guitars. He finds his place in the band with his singing talent. "The book's message is something about a little kid (literally)" finding his voice. "

This book seriously downplays the role of nurturing in a large extended Familia. Mariachi groups are often family-based, cousins, uncles, aunts, grandmothers, grandfathers, all training the future generation of musicians. Think of the Trio Los Panchos-they've been around for over 50 years and are now composed of grandsons of the original mariachis. This takes work and dedication and teaching from an early age. None of this is shown in Best Mariachi , and that is its fatal flaw: it totally negates the role of family in Mexican culture.

The story begins on this depressing note: Gustavo was the worst mariachi in the world. "In the first illustration, Gustavo-dressed in a green t-shirt and brown pants, hands in his pockets, eyes cast downward-stands sorrowfully in the middle of his dressed in mariachi outfits and happily playing mariachi instruments: violin, trumpet, and guitarrón. The only one who acknowledges Gustavo's existence is the dog at his feet.

Let's stop here for a moment. This story stretches credulity and completely obscures the reality. Any Mexican or Mexican American mariachi family (or any musical family) would be delighted to encourage their children to learn the music-as well as traditional, historical and contemporary songs-and to learn to play whichever instruments suit them. There would be lots of hard work to accomplish the goal of becoming a mariachi: lots of learning and lots of practice, probably after school and homework; And maybe even working a part-time job to save money to purchase the instrument and fabric for the outfit. The whole thing might become a family or community project in which the child learns many things about history, music, study, work, and economics. That would make a good story.

But here, young, sad and alone, Gustavo goes out into the desert each night to sing. At first, he is hesitant, and then, little by little, he gets more confident and sings louder as "he sings all the songs that he knows as well as he knows his own name." , Loud and clear. They applaud. They say he is a "true mariachi-the best mariachi in the world." His cousins ​​carry "the best mariachi" home to an "enormous breakfast" consisting entirely of a huge plate of what appears to be plain tortillas. Served by someone wearing a chef's outfit. Oh, well.

Last year, I viewed an amazing 2013 performance by Mariachi Los Tigres, students from Stephen F. Austin Middle School in San Antonio. Here was a group of talented, disciplined, practiced, joyful young people, full of pride and community esteem, performing instrumental and vocal solos, revolutionary corridos and popular songs. Towards the middle of their performance, their teacher asked the parents and other adult community members to stand and receive applause for their hard work and dedication. Then all acknowledged the children for maintaining their grades and good citizenship before engaging in the "fun stuff" of playing mariachi music. Love spread all around. This is what community is about.

All of this is what's missing from The Best Mariachi in the World // The Best Mariachi in the World . Mariachi family members who will not let a child touch their instruments. A child left alone with no one to help him realize his dreams. So I have accomplished all this on his own. And becomes the best.

The "bilingual" version-from the title on (which, rather than "The Best Mariachi Around the World, would correctly be," The Mariachi Best Around the World ") - is piled high with errors and inaccuracies. Here are just two more examples:

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No one was there to play. But I had to stand up and sing. I had to sing .

"Hmm," Gustavo thought, "I've had to sing."

I want to be in the band-in mariachi band . But what can I do? "

Rather than reflecting Mexican children's ways of speaking, ways of thinking, and ways of being in the world, the story is a deficit view of Mexican families, and the language is worse than stilted. Children who are speaking or who are bilingual learn by working through meaning and concepts and nuance. But by using an English-dominant translation-using English as the literal point of transfer-the story obscures meaning, rather than bringing together two ways of meaning and two ways of seeing the world.

The Best Mariachi in the World / The Best Mariachi in the World is a culturally inappropriate story-about a young Mexican child who must, and does, go out alone to "find his Voice "because his mariachi family does not care enough about him to encourage his talent. The story contains inaccurate Spanish, amateurish and stereotyped pictures, and a fake "multicultural" overlay-all of which promotes a sort of "bootstraps mythology" to be fed to innocent little kids. Despite its winning second place in the 2009 International Latino Book Awards for Best Children's Picture Book, The Best Mariachi in the World / The Best Mariachi in the World is not recommended.

Míl thanks To Maria Cárdenas, Judy Zalazar Drummond, Pat Enciso, Lyn Miller-Lachmann, and Ricardo Ramírez.

Here they are, in a 20-minute compilation of six of their well-known Songs: "With You," "If You Are Not With Me," "Azalea Flower," "Poor Faith," "We Triumph," and "Taste Me."

  • Adam Floyd