Nino Wrestles the World
by Yuyi Morales
Roraing Brook Press, New York, 2013
Picture book, diversity
Pura Belpre Illustrator Award, 2014
Interest level: K-3
Reading level: 2.3
4 out of 5 stars
Lucha libre is a style of professional wrestling that features the participants wearing brightly colored masks. They can feature anything from animals to mythical heroes and villains, and are popular in Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries.
Nino Wrestles the World is a picture book that features a young boy who begins the story quietly playing by himself. You can see that he has a toy wrestling ring with luchadores set up on the ropes. Then the boy straps on a red mask, strips to his tighty-whiteys and becomes NINO! He wrestles various characters, using tactics like the “tickle tackle” and “popsicle slick.” He defeats all foes until his twin sisters wake up from their nap, and he must face Las Hermanitas.
This diverse book is very creative, and highlights the wonders of a child’s imagination. Spanish is sprinkled throughout the text, but careful reading, and some wonderful explanations in the book’s endpapers, enable readers to understand meaning. There were a few scenes in the book that I did not understand on the first reading, so I really do encourage readers to read the endpapers, and read the book a second time. The meaning is much more apparent then.
Morales has illustrated the story with a graphic style featuring bright colors and scenes that would be at home on wrestling poster. This book is a wonderful way to open up children to different cultures, as well as to let children see their interests reflected in a story.