book review: El Guero

"A fascination footnote to history, enhanced by unusually evocative soft-pencil illustrations." ~Kirkus Reviews

review: El Guero: A true adventure story

author: Elizabeth Borton de Trevino

illustrator: Leslie W. Bowman

date: Silver, Burdett, Ginn; 1989

main character: Porferio Trevino Arreola “El Guero”

El Guero  is historical fiction about Elizabeth Borton de Trevino’s father in law, Porferio. Some details are added to the story for continuity. Porferio and his family move to Baja Mexico early in the 20th century under the orders of Mexico’s new president. Transportation systems in the region are poorly developed, so his father, the judge, hires a company to move the family on mules. They travel from Mexico City to the Pacific coast where they book passage on a ship for the final leg of their travel. Ships are how Mexicans and Americans move people and goods along the coast.

The family settles in Ensenada which at the time was a small military outpost. While the judge builds a home for his family (literally) El Guero (“The Blonde One”)  builds what becomes lifelong friendships with local boys. What unfolds is the interplay of the dynamics between Native, Mexican and American forces. The book gives readers an adventurous introduction to a small part of Mexican history while tell how one small boy can make a difference.

Elizabeth Borton de Trevino also wrote I, Juan de Pareja which won the Newbery in 1966. She passed away in 2000. May perpetual light shine upon her.

I bought this copy from Half Priced Books. It has been reprinted by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.