sundays on fourth street
Author: Amy Costales
Illustrator: Elaine Jerome
Arte Público 2009
ISBN 10:0-978-1-5585-520-5


Based on real-life visits to Fourth Street in Santa Ana, California, author Amy Costales has written a story that pays homage to a special street and—more importantly—time spent with loved ones. Paired with Elaine Jerome's colorful illustrations that depict lively street scenes, readers of all ages will enjoy Sundays on Fourth Street. --Latinoteca

"It is Sunday, and a young Hispanic girl is getting ready to spend the day with her mother, Uncle Armando, Aunt Pilar and her cousins Pepe and Edgar on historic Fourth Street — calle Cuatro — in Santa Ana, Calif. They go window-shopping, ride the carousel, eat tacos, enjoy performances of folk dances, get haircuts and shop at the supermarket. At sunset they get back home, exhausted and ready to begin a new week. The story's refrain, "It could be any Sunday on Fourth Street," expresses a cultural tradition embraced by many Hispanic immigrants for years.--Kirkus Review

A publishing company asked me to write a story about Cinco de Mayo. I was toying with a story in the streets of Santa Ana in Orange County, California, where I lived as a teen and young adult and where my daughter spent her childhood. My efforts evoked memories of my daughter and her cousins on Fourth Street. When we needed piñatas, haircuts, tacos, groceries, earrings, C.D.s, paletas, horchata, masa, cowboy boots, and to just have fun, we went to Fourth Street. I decided to write a book about everyday life, not holiday life. Although, on the Fourth Street any day can seem like a holiday! Some years have gone by. In Orange County today, if you live in Lake Forest as we did, you don't need to go to Santa Ana for these things. They can be purchased right on El Toro Road. There is even a restaurant called El Progreso, in homage to San Felipe del Progreso, a small town in the state of Mexico in which many of El Toro's Mexican-Americans find their roots, including my daughter's paternal family.

Writing this book was bitter sweet for me. My daughter's cousins had just moved back to Mexico when I wrote it. They had come to California as toddlers. They knew more English than Spanish. They had graduated from high school in the U.S. Their sister was born here. Their father had paid income taxes for 18 years and had even bought a house. But the family's request for residency was denied, and Pepe and Edgar were facing an adulthood of undocumented employment. The family sold the house and went back to Mexico. While they packed to move, I wrote this book. Children are bombarded with images of wealthy families. I always think about the children who aren't wealthy, and how it must feel to open book after book that portray families that have so many things, almost a fantasy life, despite the fact that a significant amount of children live under the poverty line. Poverty is not the central theme in this story. Yet it intentionally depicts a life of limit. The children share a bed. The car is used, but immaculate. The children live in an extended family. They see things in the store windows they can't have. And one child, my daughter, is being raised by a single mother. When I go into classrooms, this books resonates with children. And yet, more than anything, this book celebrates something money can't buy; love. I think back to this part of my life, to this part of my daughter's life, when we couldn't afford our own home, when I worked at McDonald's to support us, and it seems like one of the richest moments, thanks to the family that surrounded us, and thanks to the cousins that brightened her life. Pepe told me recently that the times we spent together were the best, so I think we brightened his life, too. This book celebrates relationships. This is my fourth book.

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