Maria Paz Leyton Palape
Have you ever felt the desire to know more stories written in Spanish-speaking countries? It is true that there are a lot of books written in different countries with different perspectives. There are many books in Spanish which have received Nobel Prizes or some kind of recognition, not only in their country of origin. With that in mind and some desire to make known some contemporary books, I have decided to present some book recommendations. Book lovers and those who wish to read more books from Latin America will find here Chilean literature focused on children and young adults. Since not many books are translated, the list will mostly be filled with books originally in Spanish. The names will be translated into English for better understanding. Additionally, you will find a short explanation of each piece of literature, a recommendation on a setting in which to read it, and a similar well-known English book with which I will explain similarities.
Children’s Book Recommendations
There are not so many Chilean writers known abroad, but within Latin America they are a very important influence on very young readers from Spanish-speaking countries. The following are some of the books elementary school students have to read in Chile:
Perico Trepa Por Chile (Pico Clambers Up Chile) by Marcela Paz and Alicia Morel
The story is about a little boy named Perico who lives in Tierra del Fuego and has to leave the school to become a farmer, his father’s work. To leave school means to leave his teacher, his classmates and the little map of Chile hung on his classroom wall, which makes him sad. However, he does not know that a lot of adventures are ahead of him, and with the help of his friends, Perico will be travel through the whole country of Chile.
Similar Book: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
I think I would recommend it because both books make us move from different situations and comfort zones. We find the meaning of things. We witness the development of characters who overcome a lot of obstacles. The books are very similar – you will love it!
Mitos y Leyendas de Chile (Myths and Legends of Chile) by Floridor Pérez
This book is a collection of different myths and legends that exist in Chile, such as “El Chonchón” (The Chonchón), “El Trauco” (The Trauco), “El Caleuche” (The Caleuche), “La Tirana del Tamarugal” (The Tamarugal’s Tirana), “Juan Soldado” and “El roto que engañó al diablo” (The Man from the Country Who Tricked the Devil).
Similar Book: Young Zeus by G. Brian Karas
Both books have stories about myths, and that is the similarity. However, this book presents not only stories for entertainment; it also teaches us about legends and myths from Chile. It is a really enjoyable book and well-known within the Chilean community due to its importance in Chilean schools.
Papelucho by Marcela Paz
Papelucho is a book series written by Marcela Paz, a well-known writer from Chile who received the National Prize for Literature in Chile. According to Quelibroleo, Papelucho is considered the most representative children’s book in Chilean literature. Papelucho the book presents Papelucho the character, as the protagonist of the story. Papelucho was born in Santiago, the capital of Chile, and we follow his adventures in that city (QueLibroLeo, 2018).
Similar Book: Stuart Little by E. B. White
Even though both books have a different type of the main character, both show us the adventures of the protagonist, the influence of their family, and how they grow up learning about everything that surrounds them. They are both curious about what is happening around them and have strong feelings to show.
Un perro confundido (A Confused Dog) by Cecilia Beuchat
The author is well known for this story about a dog. According to the SM editor’s note, Amadeo, the wiener dog of the Martínez family, is the most loved member of the family: everyone spoils him, and he lives happily and at peace – until one day, when he overhears that his family wants to eat hot dogs for dinner (LiteraturaSM, 2018).
Similar Book: All About Doggie and Pussycat by Josef Čapek
The similarities between these books are that the main characters are animals and their stories happen in their houses.
Estrella (Star) by Roberto Fuentes
This book is one of the most recent children’s books I have shown you so far. According to the Goodreads review, it tells us about a girl who suddenly appears in the life of the main character, Germán. However, this girl is different from any other girl. She is an intergalactic traveller, and the moment she lands on Earth is the exact moment when Germán’s dog is dying. The exact moment at which German realizes he does not know if he should become like the others in his class or just be different. The exact moment at which he decides to stop being afraid and find out what it means to be a terrestrial (Goodreads, 2016).
Similar Book: Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Both books tell us about the difficult time their main character is going through at school and outside of it. Additionally, both books tell us about different relationships that the main characters have with secondary characters and how much you can feel through the author’s narration. By the way, the author was inspired by Wonder to write “Estrella”.
Young Adult Book Recommendations
Since 2014, the idea of reading has been a trend among teenagers in Latin America. This is certainly a good influence on people who didn’t use to read much. The following books are by new Chilean authors:
- Rompiendo tus reglas (Breaking Your Rules) by Violeta Boyd
According to Planeta, Michelle Wallas is a girl in her last year of high school. Since she was a child, she has dreamt of being top of her class, but that place is always occupied by the same guy – Chase Frederick, an egocentric who controls Jackson School with his two inseparable friends, Mika and Jax, thanks to three drastic rules:
- No touching them. 2. No looking at them. 3. No talking to them.
Michi tries to follow the rules, but it becomes difficult when she finds out that Chase is her neighbour (Planeta, 2017).
Similar book: To All The Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han
Of course these romantic stories are similar. They share fictional rules made by the main characters and the setting, which is high school.
Ahora puedes verme (Now You Can See Me) by Ignacio Rebolledo
According to Megustaleer, the book tells us about the life of Ariel Cid, which seems to be full of misfortune: he lost his sister in an accident; he lost his father, who left years ago without saying goodbye; he lost confidence in his future and himself, sinking into dizziness and panic attacks (Penguin Random House, 2016). Thanks to his mother and his new boyfriend, his life starts to get better.
Similar books: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.
In conclusion, there are a lot of new books in Chile that have become famous due to the new trend of reading among young people and the different topics you might find. These are a few that have caught my attention. If you know some Spanish or are interested in the subject, I suggest you read them.
Que Libro Leo. Papelucho by Marcela Paz. Que Libro Leo, 14 May 2018, http://quelibroleo.hola.com/papelucho . Accessed 6 November 2019
LiteraturaSM. Un perro confundido by Cecilia Beuchat. LiteraturaSM, May 2018, http://www.literaturasm.cl/wp/un-perro-confundido . Accessed 6 November 2019
Goodreads. Estrella by Roberto Fuentes. Nube de Tinta, March 2016, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29523727-estrella?ac=1&from_search=true . Accessed 6 November 2019
Grupo Planeta. Rompiendo tus reglas by Violeta Boyd. Planeta de Libros, 17 June 2017, https://www.planetadelibros.cl/libro-rompiendo-tus-reglas/256987 . Accessed 6 November 2019
Penguin Random House, Grupo Editorial. Ahora puedes verme by Ignacio Rebolledo. Me Gusta Leer, November 2016, https://www.megustaleer.cl/libros/ahora-puedes-verme/MCL-003733 . Accessed 6 November 2019