Enrique Esparza and the Battle of the Alamo (History Speaks: Picture Books Plus Reader's Theaterby Susan Taylor Brown; illustrated by Jeni Reeves, 2011. (review copy)
Texas history is the focus of fourth grade social studies in the Lone Star state. That is a happy year for those students as they study the story of the state's founding and its struggle for independence. Texans regard their state's symbolic birth at the Alamo with a mixture of pride and reverence. I have observed that by the time they revisit the story in 7th grade with its overlay of government and civics and junior high ennui, their enthusiasm wanes.
I am always on the lookout for books that embrace that high level interest in elementary school.
Susan Taylor Brown's Enrique Esparza and the Battle of the Alamo
is part of the "History speaks" series from Millbrook Press. Brown focuses on the family of eight year old Enrique Esparza in the days leading up to and following the battle for the Alamo. Enrique's father Gregorio Esparza was one of the Tejano defenders who fought along side of the likes of Bowie, Crockett and Travis.
The Esparza family joined Gregorio inside the Alamo for the thirteen day battle. Gregorio died along with the other Anglo and Tejano defenders as Santa Anna gave no quarter for the fighters inside the mission. Esparza's wife and children survived. The story acknowledges the role of Tejanos in the fight for independence and their role in shaping the future of the state.
Jeni Reeves uses a warm and vivid Southwestern color palette to illustrate Enrique's story. She paints with broad brush strokes and captures the tension and fear in the family's faces as they endure the battle and the aftermath. Texas school librarians are always on the lookout for "Texas" books. The reader's theater adds another dimension to the story for classroom use. This is an excellent addition to the Texas school library. I wonder if it is available in the gift shop at the Alamo?