Monday, January 18, 2010

Blog Tour: Review and Give-Away (One Day Only!), René Has Two Last Names

Today I am pleased to be part of a BronzeWord Latino Virtual Book Tour for the book René Has Two Last Names.  I am posting my review of the book below, as well as some companion activity ideas.  I have been told that author René Colato Laínez will be reading the comments and answering any questions on this post today!  So please let him feel welcome and ask a question or two.  To get you over any shyness, we have some additional motivation.  One random commenter will be chosen to receive an autographed copy of René Has Two Last Names!  See bottom of post for rules and other stops on the tour.

René Has Two Last Names / René Tiene Dos Apellidos (Hardcover), by René Colato Laínez.  René Colato Laínez receives a sticker on his first day at a new school.  "René Colato," it reads.  When René writes his own name, he adds in "Laínez."  "When I wrote Colato, I saw my grandparents René and Amelia singing with me.  When I wrote Laínez, I saw my grandparents Angela and Julio dancing with me."  His classmates make fun of his long name at recess (see excerpt), and that night, he dreams that his mother's side of the family is disappearing.  The next day at school, the teacher gives the children an assignment involving a family tree.  René uses the project to show his class the importance of both sides of his family.  He tells the class about his father's parents (a potter and a farmer), from Italy, and his mother's parents (a poet and great dancer), from Spain.  "'And this is me,' I said, pointing to my picture in the family tree.  'I am René Colato Laínez.  I am as hard working as Abuelo René and as creative as Abuela Amelia.  I can tell wonderful stories like Abuelo Julio and enjoy music like Abuela Angela.  If you call me 'René Colato, only, the other half of my family disappears."  His classmates and teacher happily agree to refer to him by his full name from then on.

Each paragraph appears on every page twice - once in English and once in Spanish.  Fabiola Graullera Ramirez has illustrated the book in a fun style, with plenty of detail without being overly cluttered.

Of course this would be a great book for someone with a Hispanic last name reflecting both father and mother's ancestors, but I think other children would enjoy it as well.  The message about appreciating our families and where we come from is universal.

"During recess, I played soccer with my classmates.  A boy looked at my sticker and asked, 'What is your name?'  'René Colato Laínez,' I told him.  'That's a long, dinosaur name!' he laughed.  'Your name is longer than an anaconda,' another boy giggled.  'It's a blue whale from head to tail,' said the goalie."

Bookworm's interest at 2 years, 2 months: This is more suitable for an older child, so I didn't expect that it would interest him much.  We have read it together many times now and to my surprise (given his age), he does enjoy sitting through the entire book.

About the author:

Known to his students as "the teacher full of stories," Colato Laínez has been writing about issues facing immigrant children since his debut, Waiting for Papá/Esperando a Papá. The Salvadoran writer's long and arduous journey to America back in 1985 has motivated him to write stories that inspire Latin American children living in the United States.  His other books include: 
  • Fabiola, Fabiola 
  • Los tres pastelitos sabrosos/ The Three Delicious Pies  
  • En busca de un niño/ In Search of a Baby 
  • Yo soy/ I Am 
  • Querido diario/ Dear Journal 
  • Un año de diversiones/ A Year Full of Adventures 
  • Mi abecedario/ My ABC 
  • ¿Qué hago maestra?/ Teacher What I need to do? 
  • Un cuento de colores/ A Story Full of Color 
  • Mi casa es un castillo/ My House is a Castle 
  • El numero 1/ The Number 1
  •  Mi crecimiento/ My Childhood 
  • Las 5 vocales/ The 5 vowels

Companion Activity Ideas

1.  Author René Colato Laínez was kind enough to share this great activity that he has prepared with students.  It sounds like great fun. 

The title of the student's book can be: Student's name Has Two Last Names.

The book is divided like this:

1- cover
3- pictures from grandparents (father's side)
4- what the child likes about them
5-pictures from grandparents (mother's side)
6-what the child likes about them
7-A final thought about his/her family

Kids love to make this book. Children who only use one last names, also enjoy this book because they can write about their two set of grandparents and can find another way to write their entire names.

2.  Make a family tree!   There are some free templates here.  I will definitely be making one of these at some point, but we have done many photo crafts lately, so I chose something a little different this week...

3.  "My Family" Quiz Book.  The Infant Bibliophile loves being quizzed, and he has just recently started to circle things, so I decided to make him a little printable quiz book about his family.  Some pages involve counting -- "How many nanas do you have? Circle 1, 2, 3, or 4" -- and others involve places: "Where do Gran and Grandad live?"  He loved it, but finished it in about 10 seconds flat, so I apparently need to make a much longer book next time. 

Give-away rules: This give-away runs for one day only, ending at January 18, 2010.  Winner will be chosen by  Please leave your email in your comment or make sure it is accessible via your profile.  U.S. and Canadian addresses only.  Winner will be notified by email and the prize will be shipped directly from the author.


Do you have any questions for the author?  How do you teach your children about their ancestors, and/or the importance of their names?

Other stops on book tour:

Jan 11    Regular Rumination  
Jan 12    Cuponeando   
Jan 13    Tartamuda  
Jan 14    LaLicenciada        
Jan 15    Devourer of Books 
Jan 18    Chronicle of an Infant Bibliophile (that's us)

Jan 19    Latino Book Examiner    
Jan 21    The Sol Within       
Jan 22    Bilingual in the Boonies

Note: I was sent a review copy of René Has Two Last Names in order to write this post.   If you purchase any products after clicking through links in this post, we may earn a small commission as part of our affiliate relationship with


The girl who painted trees said...

Sounds like a great book, especially given the fact that my children have two last names.

MJ said...

This would be great for my kindergarten class. I always have several Hispanic students with 2 last names. I have 3 this year!


Britt said...

Cute! What a great introduction to the whole family tree concept. Boo's been having a hard time keeping relatives straight as she gets old enough to question how everyone's related.... maybe we need to make a family tree.

Rene Colato Lainez said...


I am René Colato Laínez. If you have questions, ideas, family memories etc., please comment!

Our families are full of histories that need to be heard from generations to generations.

The Mom I Want To Be said...

This book sounds great! I've been meaning to work on a family tree with my kids. We're working on a family history project that has grandparents, great grandparents, etc answering questions in journals so that my kids have something written by them.

Linda Rodriguez said...

This book is terrific, but then all of his books are. They are wonderful for single language kids, as well as those who are bilingual in Spanish and English.


MaryAnne said...

This book sounds like a great way to introduce children to the concept of two last names, and I really like that it is written in Spanish and English.

I have a question for the author:

How do two parents with two last names each traditionaly choose which last names to give their children?

Rene Colato Lainez said...

Hi MaryAnne,

In Latin America, the grandfathers' last names are the one given to the child.
The first last name is the father's last name and the second is the mother's last names:

Fidel Colato Chavez is my father's name. (Colato- father Chavez-mother)

Juana Lainez Macias is my mother's name. (Lainez-father Macias-mother)

I got my grandparents' last names
Colato Lainez.

Brimful Curiosities said...

I've spent a lot of time compiling our family tree. When we named our children, we made sure to use family names for their middle names. Same goes for both my husband's and my middle names. Framing and placing old family pictures on the wall is a good way to show the various generations to the kids. It is fun to search for similarities in facial features.

Infant Bibliophile said...

As chosen by to The Mom I Want to Be! I have emailed you to arrange for delivery of your book. Thank you, as always, to everyone who commented.

Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog said...

I know I"m late for the giveaway, but just wanted to say that I love the ideas for the activities that go along with this book! I love that there is a children's book available that explains this concept of different names and what they mean. Great review!