|BASIC INFO||LANGUAGE LEVEL||COMPREHENSION-AIDING FEATURES|
|Book Title Ahorita|
Author(s) Inga Paterson-Zúñiga
Illustrator(s) Inga Paterson-Zúñiga
Published by Self published
Genre Realistic Fiction
Publication date 2018
From the author/publisher’s website
Total Word Count
|Illustrations YES |
Guiding Questions NO
|IDENTITIES PRESENT IN THE TEXT||SYNOPSIS|
|Races, Ethnicities, and Nationalities|
Sex and Genders
Male – main characters
|From the author/publisher’s website |
The Mexican concept of “Ahorita” time takes foreigners some getting used to! Wyatt is an American living in the central Mexican city of San Miguel de Allende where he is learning Spanish. He meets his new Mexican friend, Paco, at a conversation group at the public library. Wyatt is serious about learning Spanish, and…let’s just say that Paco is a bit more carefree! It’s time for their gathering at the library, but…where’s Paco? He has just a few small errands to take care of, and he promises Wyatt he’ll be there…Ahorita! Wyatt learns, with a great deal of confusion, that “Ahorita” cannot be taken literally! This novelita follows Paco on his ATV through the streets of San Miguel de Allende, and makes a perfect supplement for a “Places Around Town” unit! It also provides abundant exposure to time-telling. A bilingual glossary of cultural references is also provided for further learning opportunities. For learners who are drawn to imagery, it strikes a visually appealing balance between pictures and word count per page. Ahorita is written at a novice mid level, focusing on repetition of high-frequency structures and common “Mexicanisms”. Great for Readers’ Theater in the language classroom!
|To what extent do the illustrations present positive and thoughtful representations of identities?|
The illustrations are photographs of San Miguel de Allende taken by the author and do not contain the characters.
|We understand identities are complex and no single story represents the spectrum of identity-based experiences. Also, a text may address a stereotype, misrepresentation, or generalization without relying on it.|
Does any stereotype, misrepresentation, or generalization affect any positive and thoughtful representations of identities in the text?
A Mexican character is represented stereotypically.
|This section is for teachers who are working towards sourcing more texts within the four domains of anti-bias education. We are excited about reading all books and we understand that not all books are written for this specific purpose. |
Does this text work toward goals within any of the four domains of anti-bias education as defined by Teaching Tolerance?
The story of Ahorita makes an attempt to compare cultures and perspectives. Through the American character Wyatt, readers are able to explore his conception of time in comparison to Paco’s conception of time as a Mexican.
Overall, the story is easy to read and follow with multiple illustrations to capture the reader’s attention. The author chose to write about the cultural concept of the word “ahorita” and thus dives into the aspect of interculturality in language acquisition.
However, the audience should not assume that Mexicans are not mindful of their time or always arriving late to appointments. Stories like this one could perpetuate stereotypes of laziness and lack of respect for others’ time. Although there are people that are not mindful of time in any culture, it is not helpful to generalize one whole culture with one particular behavior. To say that Paco, a Mexican, is always late to his appointments because he chooses to do other things might be interpreted by readers as implying that all Mexicans are late because they are careless with time. We don’t know if Paco is always late because of his bad habit, or because he is Mexican. The reader seems to only explore this conception of time through Wyatt’s eurocentric perspective, which does not dialogue with Paco’s experience of time as a Mexican.
We need to be generous with underrepresented cultures because priorities and values look different from culture to culture and person to person. For example in pages 20, 23, and 44, it is more important for Paco to go above and beyond for his mother than meet Wyatt at the library. In this case, Wyatt is not affected by Paco’s decision because Wyatt is in a group meeting at the library to practice languages. If Paco does not show up, Wyatt can still practice Spanish with another peer at the group meeting. Though it appears he might be forgetful, careless, or perpetually tardy, he is actually performing acts of service for someone else he loves.
3.18.2022 We previously identified the examples below as language imperialism. By nature, authors of comprehensible readers create texts that maximize comprehension of the language for language learners whose first language is English, and this can result in unintended language imperialism when the author’s native language is not Spanish. We acknowledge that this is a complex concept and that there are many forms of expression among speakers of any language – what appears to function as language imperialism to one individual may not to another for various reasons. We are looking forward to growing our understanding of this concept through future research and dialogue.
There are also some examples of language imperialism throughout the book. On page 43, the author uses a direct translation meaning ‘it is Thursday, quarter to five’: “Es jueves al cuarto para las cinco” when it should say “ Es jueves y faltan quince/un cuarto para las cinco”. On page 11, we see it again “al cuarto para las cinco” instead of “y faltan quince/un cuarto para las cinco, o falta un cuarto para las cinco”. The problematic word is AL as it is a direct English translation of AT. In addition, on page 75, the author also uses the word “retirarse” to mean to retire, but they should have written “jubilarse”.
An opportunity to “foster intergroup understanding,” as described by Learning for Justice, has been missed in this text. The American student does not end up understanding his Mexican friend’s behavior that differs from his own. On the contrary, the reader finishes the book not understanding and respecting that both cultures have a different concept of time and different priorities in life of equal value.