Award-winning author Duncan Tonatiuh brings to life the story of a Mexican-American war hero
José de la Luz Sáenz (1888–1953)—or Luz—believed in fighting for what was right. Although he was born in the United States, he and his family experienced prejudice because of their Mexican heritage. When World War I broke out, Luz volunteered to join the fight. Because of his ability to quickly learn languages, he became part of the Intelligence Office in Europe. However, despite his hard work and intellect, Luz often didn’t receive credit for his contributions. Upon his return to the US, he joined other Mexican-Americans whom he had met in the army to fight for equality. His contribution, along with others, ultimately led to the creation of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), which is the oldest Latino civil rights organization. Soldier for Equality is based in part on Luz’s diary during the war. It includes a biography of Luz’s later years, an author’s note, a timeline, a bibliography, and an index.
About the Author
Duncan Tonatiuh was born in Mexico City and grew up in San Miguel de Allende. His books have received many awards over the years. He currently lives in San Miguel with his wife and children but travels to the US often.
"The author's insightful use of Sáenz's war-diary entries boldly introduces this extraordinary American's triumphs and struggles . . . An important contribution to this volatile chapter in U.S. and Mexican American history."
— Kirkus Reviews
"Using kid-friendly language that doesn’t shy away from the ugliness of prejudice and war, Tonatiuh expertly crafts an informative and engaging picture book biography supported by primary sources. If the straightforward text doesn’t grab young readers, the arresting pre-Columbian inspired art will."
"Tonatiuh unfurls this story in a streamlined narrative, enlivened by touches of Spanish phrasing and quotes and paraphrases from Sáenz’s own diaries, that sets up the situation quickly and effectively yet still flows naturally . . . Youth literature has been limited in its coverage of Latinx civil rights, and this will be a useful and readable introduction to one of its originators."
— The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"An inspiring introduction to an underrepresented figure who pursued his lifelong vision for equality and justice."
— Publishers Weekly
"Clear, descriptive text traces Luz’s life and provides insight into his thoughts, feelings, and determination. . . A culturally and historically important work focusing on an inspirational Mexican American soldier who fought for America during the Great War, as well as for equal rights for his fellow Mexican Americans. An essential purchase for all children’s nonfiction collections."
— SLJ Review