I have two limited series planned for this month.
My series “Imagining Black Women” will start over the weekend. It consists of essays from Black women authors.
I find it interesting that women’s biographies are collected into single volumes more often than they are printed as free-standing stories in monographs. Perhaps this speaks to feminine ways of being that stresses community over the individual. These collections often contain women’s stories that can be difficult to find elsewhere. So, my other series this month, Women Collected, will highlight some of these books.
Let’s start with Fiesta Femenina: Celebrating Women of Mexican Folklore retold by Mary Joan Gerson and illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez (Barefoot Books, republished in 2018). Dr. Gerson is Adjunct Clinical Professor, Consultant in Psychoanalysis, and Former Director of the Advanced Specialization in Couple and Family Therapy at the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. She has written five books for children. Her children’s writing career began in Nigeria when she and her husband served with the Peace Corps. She travels widely to explore new cultures and tries to capture different ways of seeing the world for children and young adults.
Maya Christina Gonzalez is an artist, author and progressive educator. A Pura Belpré Award winner, Maya and her partner, Matthew Smith, developed Reflection Press, a “POC and queer trans owned independent publisher of radical and revolutionary books” and The School of the Free Mind that provides “courses & programs that offer a holistic approach to creating & publishing children’s books as well as aid in expanding the mind and reclaiming our creative, intuitive, cooperative human nature.” Maya, a Latinx creator, describes Fiesta Feminina by saying “It embodies everything I hoped to convey: Spirit, Depth, Love. Family. Nature. And similar to much of Frida’s work, it evokes longing, loss, hope, endurance. It’s very personal, it’s also universal.”
Gerson has collected stories from the Yacquui, Mayan and Aztec traditions as well as stories that combine colonial Spanish influences. These include stories of princess Green Bird, Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Hungry Goddess and Blancaflor and they are tales that have been told for generations that have worked to define women’s roles in Mexican society. Most of the stories would make excellent bedtime stories as the can spark readers imagination, engage conversations and teach elements of Mexican cultures.
Fiesta Femenina: Celebrating Women of Mexican Folklore by Mary Joan Gerson and Maya Christina Gonzalez. Barefoot Books; 2001. 2018.