Mildred quiere un novio

Book Title Mildred quiere un novio (Mildred Wants a Boyfriend)
Author(s) Terry T. Waltz
Illustrator(s) Terry T. Waltz
Other Contributors (none)
Published by Squid for Brains
Genre Comedy
Publication date 2018
#Ownvoices N/A
From the author/publisher’s website
Level 1

Total Word Count
80 unique words, including 10 cognates
Illustrations                 YES 
Glossary                     YES 
Guiding Questions     NO  
Context                        NO
Races, Ethnicities, and Nationalities
Presumed Western (unspecified)

Languages spoken

Sex and Genders

Child: 6-12
Teenager: 13-18
Young Adult: 18-35
Mid-life Adult: 35-65
Senior Adult: 65+

Social classes
Other: Not entirely clear, but the characters have the financial means to take a trip to mainland China at the end
Sexual Orientation

(Dis)Abilities and Neurotypes
One elderly character is shown in a wheelchair

Religions, Syncretism, and Spirituality
None mentioned in text

Relationship and Family Structures
None salient to story

Body Descriptions
Other: A variety of body sizes are shown, although much of this diversity occurs with animals and fictional characters such as a “SpongeBob” parody character.
From the author/publisher’s website 

Oh Romeo, Romeo… Never mind wherefore… where in the world are you? Mildred is looking for her soul-mate, but she’s not inclined to settle for anything less than checking off everything on her list. Will Mildred find happiness and check all the boxes?
To what extent do the illustrations present positive and thoughtful representations of identities?

The illustrations present a variety of humans as well as personified animals and objects (e.g. a purple dinosaur, a blue sponge). The humans are shown in a variety of ages and skin tones. One elderly person is shown seated in a wheelchair. The main character, Mildred, is presented as a female horse wearing a pink bow, pink dress and pink lipstick.
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?

Characters of diverse backgrounds are represented stereotypically, or presented as foreign or exotic or are tokenized. (See review for context)
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 Learning for Justice

Mildred quiere un novio is a short Level 1 book featuring many illustrations and repetitions of core vocab. The storyline belongs to the “wacky” parody/farce genre. The protagonist, a female horse named Mildred, is seeking a boyfriend who fulfills very specific criteria, particularly the criterion that he be eighteen years old. She considers a variety of males, none of whom meet all of her criteria. Finally, Mildred meets a male who otherwise meets her criteria except that he is only seventeen years old, according to Western age counting practices. In a twist, they decide to go to Beijing, China, where the book explains that the age-counting custom begins at birth with “1”; in this way of counting age, the potential boyfriend is eighteen years old and hence fulfills all of Mildred’s criteria.  

All the relationships featured in the book revolve around their heteroromantic potential.

A wide variety of characters, of a wide age range and many different kinds of body shapes/sizes, are considered worthy candidates for consideration for being someone’s romantic partner.  

The reference to age-counting customs in China may provoke students’ curiosity to learn more about various Chinese perspectives. A cultural note also invites readers, in English, to reflect on age-counting customs in their own context, as well as customs involving degrees of appropriateness in asking someone their age: “How does your culture think about age? Is it okay to ask someone how old they are?” (p. 24). 

Much of the humor in the book comes from parody of pop culture references, such as the fictional characters Edward and Jacob and the real town of Forks, Washington, USA from the film “Twilight” (2008), the singer Justin Bieber, and the cartoon character Spongebob. These references may be more or less comprehensible depending on the cultural background of the reader.  As time goes on, they also may become less familiar to contemporary teens.  

The characteristics on Mildred’s stated list of criteria revolve around the external aspects of age and physical appearance: “Mildred quiere un novio guapo. Quiere un novio de dieciocho años / Mildred wants a handsome boyfriend. She wants an 18-year-old boyfriend” (pg. 4). Although Mildred seems to prioritize age and appearance in her criteria, the text implies she also values character and behavioral traits, specifically those of being “romantic” (pp. 7, 8, 21), “heroic” (p. 8) and “good” (p. 21):

– “Washcloth Bob es muy romántico / Washcloth Bob is very romantic” (p. 7).
– “¿Es [Tofuman] el novio ideal de Mildred? Es un superhéroe. Es muy romántico. Tiene dieciocho años. Pero no es el novio ideal porque tiene siete novias / Is Tofuman Mildred’s ideal boyfriend? He’s a superhero. He’s very romantic. He’s 18. But he’s not the ideal boyfriend because he has seven girlfriends” (p. 8).
– “‘Uds. son buenos y guapos y románticos’” / “‘You guys are good and handsome and romantic’” (p. 21).

A male character, Tofuman, is portrayed as having multiple girlfriends (pp. 8-14). None of the female characters is portrayed as having multiple boyfriends.

As previously discussed, the story introduces a Chinese cultural practice for determining a person’s age, which the Western characters use to solve their problem. The story also refers to the fictional town of Chopsticks, Washington, USA, in a parody of the town of Forks, Washington (of “Twilight” movie fame; pp. 17-20, 23). These two references to Chinese culture are among the few depictions of China (and any Asian cultures) within the current (2023) body of literature written for Spanish language learners. 

While the tone of story is light and fictitious, the impact of these references, if taken apart from a deeper context of China studies, may unintentionally communicate a view of Chinese culture as trivialized, exoticized and/or instrumentalized (i.e. as a means to an end, such as for entertainment or practical purposes) for the benefit of Western readers and characters. Teachers may wish to critically examine with students the ways in which Asian cultures have historically been represented in a variety of Western media. They may also wish to seek additional materials to amplify Asian and Asian-Latinx voices in the Spanish classroom.

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