Soldier for Equality: José De La Luz Saénz and the Great War
Soldier for Equality: José De La Luz Saénz and the Great War

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Annotation: Describes the life and accomplishments of Jose de la Luz Saenz, who helped create the League of United Latin American Citizens, the oldest Latino civil rights organization.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #202890
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Pages: 40
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-419-73682-5 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-6922-4
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-419-73682-7 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-6922-8
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 2018047729
Dimensions: 28 cm.
Language: English
Publishers Weekly
Although he was an American citizen, José de la Luz Sáenz (1888-1953) was beaten up and denied access to local Texan businesses because his parents were of Mexican origin. He determined to fight back: -Luz knew that knowledge was a weapon that helped you defend yourself against those who were mean to you and ignored your rights.- First a teacher, he joined the army and shipped out to Europe to fight in WWI. Quick to learn French, he was promoted to intelligence work, but he was never given a higher rank or more pay. His friendships with other Mexican-American soldiers led him to help form the League of United Latin American Citizens, an organization that advocated for equal rights for Latinx Americans. Characteristic illustrations by Tonatiuh (Danza!) use carved-stone faces and formal, ceremonial postures to represent the characters in this picture book. An inspiring introduction to an underrepresented figure who pursued his lifelong vision for equality and justice. Ages 6-8. (Sept.)

School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 13 José de la Luz Sáenz knew that many people who had roots in Mexico were hard workers, just like his father, and he did not understand why people were mistreated simply because of their heritage. Luz, who was born in Texas, experienced discrimination firsthand and made it his goal to help others of Mexican descent. After working as a teacher, Luz joined the army to fight in World War I in the hopes that others would realize that Mexican Americans were also willing to sacrifice for the United States. Although Luz faced discrimination, even from some of his fellow soldiers, he made close friends and spent his time studying French, which helped him earn a position in communications receiving, translating, and sending messages. Upon his return to the States, Luz was disappointed to learn that the discrimination faced by Mexican Americans had not changed. Together with other war veterans in Texas, Luz worked to improve the rights of Mexican Americans, ultimately forming the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)an organization that fought for democracy, justice, and equality. Tonatiuh's traditional hand-drawn and collage-style illustrations depict Luz and his fellow Mexican Americans' trials and victories, as well as the tragedies of the war. Clear, descriptive text traces Luz's life and provides insight into his thoughts, feelings, and determination. VERDICT A culturally and historically important work focusing on an inspirational Mexican American soldier who fought for America during the Great War, as well as for equal rights for his fellow Mexican Americans. An essential purchase for all children's nonfiction collections. Selenia Paz, Harris County Public Library, Houston
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* The creator of Funny Bones (2015) and Undocumented (2018) continues to shine a much-needed light on unrecognized Mexican American contributions to history. José de la Luz Sáenz strove to bring about racial equality, from the underfunded and segregated classrooms in his local community to the trenches of France during WWI. After fighting for his country in the Great War, Luz hoped that he and his fellow soldiers of Mexican descent would be accepted and celebrated, but that wasn't the case, and so he spent the rest of his life advocating for equal rights, cofounding LULAC, one of the oldest organizations that fights for Latinx rights. Using kid-friendly language that doesn't shy away from the ugliness of prejudice and war, Tonatiuh expertly crafts an informative and engaging picture-book biography supported by primary sources. If the straightforward text doesn't grab young readers, the arresting pre-Columbian-inspired art will. The illustrations are hand-drawn and digitally collaged, with the neutral, brown-tinged palette recalling WWI's uniforms and trenches. Direct quotes from the subject's diaries and correspondences are seamlessly incorporated into the narrative, and Tonatiuh makes use of Luz's actual handwriting, inserting the script as texture into several backgrounds. Thorough back matter includes two time lines, sources, a glossary, and more. This one's a must for all picture-book biography collections.
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Word Count: 2,282
Reading Level: 5.3
Interest Level: K-3
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.3 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 505305 / grade: Lower Grades
Lexile: 860L
Guided Reading Level: V
Fountas & Pinnell: V

Award-winning author Duncan Tonatiuh brings to life the story of a Mexican-American war hero Jos de la Luz S enz (1888-1953)--or Luz--believed in fighting for what was right. Although he was born in the United States, he and his family experienced prejudice because of their Mexican heritage. When World War I broke out, Luz volunteered to join the fight. Because of his ability to quickly learn languages, he became part of the Intelligence Office in Europe. However, despite his hard work and intellect, Luz often didn't receive credit for his contributions. Upon his return to the US, he joined other Mexican-Americans whom he had met in the army to fight for equality. His contribution, along with others, ultimately led to the creation of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), which is the oldest Latino civil rights organization. Soldier for Equality is based in part on Luz's diary during the war. It includes a biography of Luz's later years, an author's note, a timeline, a bibliography, and an index.

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