I’m a coatí

My daughter loves nature, wildlife and animals so she is thrilled with her latest homework assignment. She got to choose a poem about a rainforest animal to present at her class”poesia y postre” (poetry and dessert) night next month.  

The poem she chose is from award-winning and local Chicano poet (he lives in our town and works at our university) Francisco Alarcón. In his collection of bilingual/environmental poems,  “Animal Poems of the Iguazu”, he addresses wildlife and habitat preservation and introduces children to the wonders of the natural world  -through the Iguazú rainforest of South America.   The artwork  in his books – by Maya Christina Gonzalez, a San Francisco-based artist – is wonderful – playful, colorful and vibrant.

 [Alarcón has written other literature for children, as well .  Try not to smile when working in your veggie garden after reading “Laughing Tomatoes” from his Spring poem collection. ]

The Iguazú (also spelled Iguassu) is part of a national park between Brazil and Argentina. It has 275 falls and the surrounding forest is full of rich flora and fauna, and home to hundreds of species of birds like toucans. It is now officially added to my Places we Need to Go list.

The poem she chose to present – in both english and spanish –  is about a Coatí(member of the raccoon family and found in the Iguazú rainforest) How cute is he?

It goes like this.

Coatí (by Francisco Alarcón)

I’m a coatí, very proud, of my great tail

so curious, so hungry, with my big nose

sniffing out, the food I know, you all carry


un coatí soy, muy orgulloso, de mi gran cola

muy curioso, muy hambriento, con mi gran nariz

voy olfateando, la comida que se

que todos cargan

His poems teach adults something too. From the same collection, the poem, Giant Ants  will remind those of us who love to travel how we can get caught up with photo-taking and facebook-posting instead of Just Being in the Moment. I plead guilty….

It goes like this.

Giant Ants (by Francisco Alarcón)

from our perch, we ants can spot, many people

walking in file, like giant ants, on steel pathways

holding digital cameras, taking lots of photos, of each other

ignoring the great, and tiny wonders, all around them


Hormigas Gigantes

desde nuestros miradores, las hormigas podemos, divisar mucha gente

caminando en fila,como hormigas gigantes,sobre senderos de acero

com cámaras digitales,en mano sacándose,muchas fotos entre si

ignorando las grandes,y pequeñas maravillas, a todo su alrededor


3 responses to “I’m a coatí

  1. It’s so cool that your daughter is growing up in a bilingual academic setting! This project is very educational! Out of curiosity (I am currently looking into bilingual programs and education systems in a variety of schools, both public and private, etc) does your daughter attend a public or private school? I’ve read that the educational programs in California public schools have gone down significantly, but I don’t know what the situation is for the private schools. Or if this is just the case in certain counties (like the Los Angeles School District – a total disaster!!)

  2. Amazingly it’s a public school (more than 25 yrs ago, they were able to pass this program through the school district, as long as it didnt cost more than a “regular” public school – and teachers that work at the school hold a bilingual credential). And yes, while cuts are universal – I think it depends on the district and the make up of the community. Our community is unique in that we have historically had wonderful schools and many options (public school full spanish immersion, montessori, etc) because education is a huge priority for families that live here. So while we are not immune to the state of the budget, pink slips, etc, the families and businesses in the community support the public schools … in fact, we just voted in a special $200 per year tax for the next 2 yrs (via property taxes) to help fill the budget gap due to cuts. Not many communities would be able to get a two third vote for something like this.The attraction of our schools is a reason why we pay WAY more for dinky homes here than anywhere around us. hence, less travels for this family!

  3. Ahh… I suppose there are pros and cons to everything. This is good to know though. You’re right, when a particular community is known for its schools, the property values climb way up, and stay up. You do notice the positive difference in the learning experience though. When I was about to begin high school, my parents up and sold their house so that we could move to the district that had one of the best public high schools around, even though it’s all LAUSD. I’m glad they did so, because had we stayed, they would have had to send me to a private Catholic high school because the public schools in the area were horrific. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with going to a Catholic high school, but when I was able to attend the public high school in the better district, I was exposed to much more diversity, various points of view when it came to religion, education, etc, and an overall well-balanced learning experience.
    I really believe that this bilingual educational experience is something your children will treasure forever!

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