Before César Chávez or Che Guevara there was Emma
Tenayuca — who at
the mere age of 21 led the fight for fair wages and improved working
conditions among pecan shellers in the 1920s. Authors Carmen Tafolla
and Sharyll Teneyuca (Emma's niece) penned That's Not Fair!/¡No
Justo!, a bilingual children's book, in homage to the
Emma dutifully fought for.
The pre-publication book that I received, masterfully illustrated by
Terry Ybáñez, was not yet bound but that didn't
stop me from cracking
it open and reading the inspirational story of Emma. As a child, Emma
is depicted as an avid reader. When her friend Maria confesses to her
that she hasn't learned to read because her family went away to pick
crops, the "lightning in Emma's eyes" flashes and she begins to pick
up on the unfair world around her. She incites change through tiny
acts of kindness, like giving three young boys an apple and to their
mother her new blue sweater.
Twelve years later, when Emma was 21 she took it upon herself to be
the voice of the pecan shellers as they battled unfair wages and
horrendous working conditions. Although she was met with laughter as
she organized a pecan shellers' walk out, she did manage to gather
12,000 pecan shellers to trust her while she fought for their rights.
The book is an ideal read for middle-school aged children with a page
count of 38 and a brief one-page bio on Emma complete with a handful
of pictures of her in full-protest mode. Be on the look out for
Sharyll and Tafolla's full adult biography on Emma and a chapter book
for middle-grade readers to follow.
Fair!/¡No Es Justo! is scheduled official
is set for March 2008, however pre-publication copies will be
available at the book premiere. A reading, book-signing, film preview,
art auction, and music provided by Conjunto Aztlán will also
for the event.
EMMA TENAYUCA BOOK PREMIÉRE Y CELEBRACIÓN
Esperanza Peace & Justice Center
922 San Pedro