YAL - Young Adult Literature Presenter Unit 2011/2012



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Into the Beautiful North
by Luis Alberto Urrea


YAL Presenter Unit 2011/2012

Subjects: English, Language Arts
Grade Level: 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
Posted: 2011
Unit Created by: Mary Massie and Marta Quinoñes

What makes this a good YAL choice...

Skillful, engaging writing is essential to any book that earns a spot on our YAL Conference lineup. I was confident that Into the Beautiful North would deliver quality writing, because Luis Alberto Urrea is an award-winning author whose impressive nonfiction book The Devil’s Highway was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. However, Into the Beautiful North has a style and tone completely different from the somberness and horror of The Devil’s Highway. ITBN is uplifting and poignantly hilarious as it takes us along on teenaged heroine Nayeli’s quest to find and bring back from the U.S. a posse of men to defend and animate her struggling little hometown in Mexico. Nayeli is a bouncy, irresistible force who calls upon a crazy but endearing cast of characters to get her across the border and deep into Illinois, despite every obstacle. Urrea writes with compassion and truth about issues many of our students understand on a personal level. This book was written for adults, but is very accessible to mature high school students. Nayeli’s incredible journey is full of pleasures and insights for any reader who goes along for the ride. — Mary Massie


YAL Conference Workshop Description
Into the Beautiful North/ Rumbo al hermoso norte: I Laughed, I Cried, I Understood
Mary Massie and Marta Quinoñes, Presenters

How does humor allow us to understand harsh realities without losing hope? Come and find out with unforgettable characters who will astonish and delight you as they rush into the joy or disaster waiting around every turn in this incredible journey. Nineteen-year-old Nayeli is an unlikely leader who takes destiny into her own hands when there are no men left to defend her Mexican village against drug-dealing bandidos. This workshop explores aspects of Urrea's novel through quick drama and writing strategies sure to engage teen readers with serious issues while keeping humor in the equation. The featured text for this book is available in English or Spanish. — Workshop Description for YAL 2011