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Sandra Cisneros Book Group Discussion

Page history last edited by kim.wells@spartanburg2.k12.sc.us 14 years, 3 months ago

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Eleven by Sandra Cisneros 

Recommended by Cathy Rode



kind of partly, in a way
getting mad becoming angry
right away immediately
hold in control or not show (feelings)
that’s enough stop it
it’s too late because of what has or
hasn’t happened, the situation can’t
be OK now
kind of partly, in a way
getting mad becoming angry
right away immediately
hold in control or not show (feelings)

I found this story in my basal reader.  It is a great story to use for students to practice making predicitons.  It is told in 1st person point of view and has wonderful exampleso of idioms and other expressions such as:  "right away = immediately" and "getting mad=becoming angry".  This story is told through the eyes of an eleven year old, in simple language that engages the reader.



    "Caramelo" By Sandra Cisneros

Cathy Rode

I love this book, the chapters are short, the writing is full of imagery, and the nicknames the characters are called; The Awful Grandmother, Uncle Fat-Face, well that just makes you want to read more!  I learned that Latina writers use a hyphen instead of the quotation marks.  This made it different to read, but I like it.  Her memoir was appealing for many reasons, she begins her book with stating–"Tell me a story, even it it's a lie.". This book includes several themes which include:  truths, lies, history, and the gift of storytelling.  Cisneros writes with a mixture of English and Spanish vocabulary-which helps the reader experience life as she had at such a young age.  I noticed that the author's use of footnotes; different voices; repetition; Spanish language, songs, and poetry; as well as other stylistic devices are some of the creative styles that help enforce the many themes throughout the text.


The synopsis of Carmelo by Sandra Cisnerno : The seventh child and only daughter to Zoila and Inocencio Reyes, Celaya Reyes spent her childhood traveling back and forth between her family's home in Chicago to her father's birth home in Mexico City, Mexico. Celaya's intimidating paternal grandmother, adored and revered by Celaya's father, dominates these visits, and Celaya dubs her the Awful Grandmother. Celaya's story begins one summer in Mexico when she was just a little girl, but soon her girlhood experiences segue back in time–to before Celaya was born–to her grandparents' history. Celaya traces the Awful Grandmother's lonely and unhappy childhood in a Mexico ravaged by the Mexican revolution of 1911, her meeting and ultimate union with Celaya's grandfather, Narciso Reyes (the Little Grandfather), and the birth of their first and favorite son, Celaya's father, Inocencio. Inocencio Reyes moves to the United States as a young man, and soon meets Zoila, a Mexican-American woman, with her own colorful mixed-Mexican parentage. Celaya develops the portrait of her parents' love-based, but volatile, marriage and the growth of their own Mexican-American family. After the Little Grandfather's death, the family moves the Awful Grandmother up to the United States with them, first to Chicago, then to San Antonio. Soon afterward, the Awful Grandmother dies, leaving her teenage granddaughter to struggle with her unresolved relationship with her late grandmother. Through her grandmother's history, Celaya discovers her own Mexican-American heritage, enabling her ultimately to carve out an identity of her own in the two countries she inhabits and that inhabit her–Mexico and America.

As the family's self-appointed historian, or storyteller, Celaya's tale weaves Mexican social, political, and military history around intimate family secrets and the stormy and often mysterious relationships among multiple generations of family members. The marvelous, often riotous cast of characters that march through time and across the North American continent ranges from close family members to Mexican-American icons of popular culture that have random encounters with the Reyes family. (Remember Senor Wences with his painted talking hand (p. 224)?  The spirited, likeable characters, while at times mythological in their characteristics, are always intensely human in their flaws and emotions. While each character can claim equal footing in the Reyes web of family and history, each holds a role of differing significance in Celaya's personal odyssey of connecting to her roots and carving her future.


Loose Woman: Poems  "Loose Woman" By Sandra Cisneros

Heather Yordy

A collection of poetry that I’m not sure would be appropriate for even High School.  Yet, this is who Sandra Cisneros is appearing to be as I explore her different works.  She does not hold back her strong opinions of what it is like to be a woman… or even further still, a Hispanic woman.


Below are several things I noticed.

Personification  - As in “Little Clown, My Heart” – vivid illustrations and personification of innate objects – a carpenter’s hinged ruler, Acapulco cliff-diver, fine as an obsidian dagger, - all used to represent different aspects of her heart.  Also in “I Let Him Take Me” – as I read this, I was sure it was about a husband.  However, in the last line, it was revealed that it was about her poetry…


Alliteration - As in “A Man in My Bed Like Cracker Crumbs” – “Shaken the sheets and slumped, those fat pillows like tired tongues…”


Vivid language (see next examples)


Brazen vocabulary to illicit her strong personality – Feminism - As in “The Heart Rounds Up the Usual Suspects” – “I’m loony as a June bride. Cold as a bruja’s tit.  A pathetic bitch.  In short, an ordinary woman.  Grateful to excessiveness.”  Also in “Full Moon and You’re Not Here” – “you’re in love with my mind.  But sometimes sweetheart, a woman needs a man who loves her ass.”  One final example from “Perras” – a poem about a Hispanic male not “acting” Hispanic, dating a Caucasian woman and the opinion that Cisneros has of that choice.


Intermixing Spanish and English – She does this throughout for emphasis.  Often the words are very strong slang words or profanities that are much stronger when used in Spanish than if they were translated. 


Using italics/different fonts for emphasis or in place of quotations - As in “Old Maids” in which she utilized italics to emphasize the opinions of her relatives.  I have to say, at 32, I enjoyed this poem and the attitude that she exposes about those that are “older” and not yet married…  J


Hyphenated words for concise description - As in “Loose Woman” – “I’m an aim-well, shoot-sharp, sharp-tongued, sharp-thinking, fast-speaking, foot-loose, loose-tongued, let-loose, woman-on-the-loose, loose woman. Beware, honey.”  And there is definite play with the words there – connecting each hyphenated phrase…


 The House on Mango Street

This is written as many vignettes about a girl growing up in a Latino section of Chicago. She is going from benchmark to benchmark in her life with really no exact time-line. Some of the things that happen are more "major" life events than others in anothers eyes, but they are all meant to represent an "eye-opening" experience for lack of better term. In one chapter, "A Rice Sandwich" she is not allowed to stay at school and eat with all the other kids because she lives too close to the school. This is a metaphor for the discrimination she will face as a minority in the time period. In a chapter about her aunt she questions many things. She says "maybe" and "I might" over and over. This is the time in a young girls life where you are trying to find your way and can't seem to find an answer for anything. The way that Cisneros groups the life stories, the life lessons pop out. I read that this book is used from inner-city schools to college campuses all over. I feel like this a book to use when really showing author's purpose. She doesn't want me to be sad that her grandpa passed away in "Papa Who Wakes Up Tired in the Dark", she wants me to understand the realization of the fact that we will all lose someone whether expected or unexpected; probably one of the hardest life lessons of all.

Lori Milan 


House on Mango Street review by Kim Wells

House on Mango Street connects quickly with adolescent readers. Sandra Cisnero's voice is conversational. If you were standing on the street corner of any average inner city neighborhood, you may overhear just the conversations Cisnero writes about. Very credible. The situations, settings, and characters are reflections of Cisnero's own childhood memories. The short chapter format makes it an easy read fort struggling readers. English second language learners will identify with the rich imagery and context of the author. Rich imagery and emotion set this book as as a classic for young readers.


Eleven  by Cisneros was, by far, my favorite piece that I read of hers. It is a short story and in one of her collections, but I read it in solitude. It is 2 pages of a little girl being humiliated in school. The way she writes it, you are one of two things: 1- the little girl who is embarassed over the sweater, or 2- picture the child that it will happen to or has happen to, in your classroom. I was personally able to do both. Not because I have actually been where the child is, but because it was so vivid. I don't know what to call the craft she used with the birthdays....it wouldn't be flashback, but similar. That is what makes the story.

Heather Yordy

This is a sweet picture book about not only the different hair textures of her family members, but of the sweet connections between family members.  It illustrates the diversity of a family, yet also the comfort that family ties bring.  It shows the differences within a family, but how those differences can be sweet and treasured!  The story is bilingual, and there is beautiful alliteration in several spots in the Spanish.  There is imagery throughout: hair like a broom; hair like fur; hair like candy circles; hair like the smell of warm bread.  Perhaps my favorite part is the association of her mama's hair with comfort, protection, warmth and security.  A sweet story that teaches appreciation for differences and the simple blessings of life.




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