Todos Iguales/All Equal

By Publishers Weekly

In the summer of 1930, the school board of Lemon Grove, Calif., made a radical decision: to build a separate school for the community’s Mexican-American students. The “two-room, barnlike building,” filled with “castoff school supplies,” galvanized Lemon Grove’s Mexican American community. Their organizing resulted in 12-year-old Roberto Álvarez becoming the plaintiff in the “first successful school desegregation case in United States history.” Opening with a corrido, a traditional Mexican story-song, the bilingual text in Spanish and English presents a lesser-known chapter of U.S. civil rights history in clear, compelling prose, centering the story in immigrant community action. Vivid illustrations, created with gouache and relief-printing inks, combine crisp edges and soft textures, conjuring the feeling of looking back into time. Concluding spreads delve further into the history and impact of the case, the major players involved in the action, and the structure of corridos. Essential and enlightening.