Lucha Libre: The Man in the Silver Mask

By: Xavier Garza
Illustrator: Xavier Garza
Translator: Luis Humberto Crosthwaite

They’re no longer regular people, named Alejandro Lopez or Horacio Baldera. When they put on their masks, they become CHICANO POWER. THEY BECOME LEGENDARY HEROES AND FEARSOME VILLAINS.



They're no longer regular people, named Alejandro Lopez or Horacio Baldera. When they put on their masks, they become CHICANO POWER. THEY BECOME LEGENDARY HEROES AND FEARSOME VILLAINS.

Do you know what lucha libre is? Have you ever been to a lucha libre match and seen los technicos and los rudos —the good guys and the bad guys— dressed up in their wild costumes and crazy masks? How would you feel if the most famous luchador of all time actually stopped and smiled at you? Find out what happens to Carlitos when The Man in the Silver Mask—a man he's never seen before in his whole life—turns and does that very thing to him.

Kids, of all ages, are drawn to the allure of lucha libre and its masked men and women. In Lucha Libre, young fans will see this fascinating world come alive: favorite heroes and much-feared villains, dressed in dazzling and outrageous costumes, strut and prance across the mat and bounce against the ropes, daring anyone to take them to the floor!

¿Sabes que es la lucha libre? ¿Alguna vez has ido a un combate de lucha libre y visto los técnicos y los rudos—los buenos y los malos—vestidos con sus disfraces llamativos y sus máscaras locas? ¿Cómo te sentirías si el luchador más famoso de todos los tiempos se detuviera y te sonriera? Descubre qué le sucede a Carlitos cuando El Hombre de la Máscara de Plata, un hombre que nunca antes había visto en toda su vida, se da vuelta y le hace eso.

Niños, de todas edades, se sienten atraídos por el atractivo de la lucha libre y sus hombres y mujeres enmascarados En Lucha Libre, los jóvenes fanáticos verán este mundo fascinante ven a la vida: héroes favoritos y villanos muy temidos, vestidos con trajes deslumbrantes e indignantes, pavoneándose y brincando sobre el tapete y rebotando contra las cuerdas, ¡desafiando a cualquiera a llevarlos al piso!

Awards and Accomodations

Tejas Star Book Award
Honor book, Américas Award

13 reviews for Lucha Libre: The Man in the Silver Mask

  1. Críticas
    As if going to a lucha libre (“wrestling”) match with his grandfather and uncle weren’t exciting enough, the young narrator of this engaging story buys a mask identical to the one worn by his favorite wrestler. Although Carlitos’ uncle can’t actually make it to the fight, a face-to-face encounter with his hero, the Man in the Silver, keeps the protagonist distracted. Astute readers will easily deduce the identity of the masked man, as they learn about Mexican wrestling. The fluid colloquial English and Spanish and grainy graphic-novel style illustrations executed in acrylics make for an attractive package with definite appeal for boys. An informative endnote in English presents a brief but engrossing history of lucha libre. This title is sure to become popular in both libraries and bookstores.

  2. Kirkus Reviews
    Carlitos and his father go to the arena in Mexico City to watch a bout of “lucha libre” (professional wrestling) with Carlitos’ uncle Vicente. Although this tale is set a half century ago, the wrestlers are divided, just like now, into bad guys (los rudos) and good guys(los technicos), and the audience loves booing los rudos and cheering for los tecnicos. Young readers will shiver along with Carlitos at the frightening costumes and manners of the bad guy—El Cucuy (the boogeyman), the evil caveman and the vampire—and thrill to the heroes—the Mighty Bull, the Masked Rooster and Carlito’s favorite, the Man in the Silver Mask.

    While Carlitos (and younger readers) may not figure out why Vicente misses the bout, older readers will realize who the Man in the Silver Mask really is. Garza’s illustrations are oversized, wildly colored and presented in bold outlines, recalling both Mexican folk art and the rowdy spirit of the stylized sport. They are sure to draw in every wrestling fan under the age of 10. His afterword is a brief history of Mexican wrestling and especially El Santo—The Saint—its most popular hero and the original man in the silver mask.

  3. School Library Journal
    Going to a lucha libre in Mexico City with his grandfather is exciting in itself, but the young narrator of this engaging story is thrilled at being allowed to buy a mask like those worn by the luchadores.
    Carlitos chooses a silver one just like that of his favorite wrestler. From their seats at ringside, the fights are exciting, including a face-to-face encounter with the boy’s hero, the Man in the Silver Mask. Astute readers will easily pick up on the identity of the masked man, and all will increase their knowledge of the Mexican version of the World Wrestling Federation.

    Smoothly integrated information in fluid colloquial English and Spanish combines with grainy graphic-novel-style illustrations executed in acrylic to create an oddly compelling and sophisticated package. An informative endnote, in English only, presents a brief but engrossing history of lucha libre. Certain to be a popular choice.

  4. NBC Latino
    This is a really fun book for little lucha libre fans. —Monica Olivera

  5. Boston Herald Review
    The sport [lucha libre] became ‘‘a poor man’s theater,” according to Garza. The masked fighters, known as ‘‘luchadores,” are classified as either ‘‘tecnicos” (working-class heroes who play by the rules) or ‘‘rudos” (bad guys who use dirty tactics to get ahead). It’s the classic struggle between good and evil.

    ‘‘Somehow, in the nick of time, the good guy will triumph,” Garza said. ‘‘And if he doesn’t, it’s to set up a bigger match down the road.” Once a loser is determined, he’s unmasked, revealing his true identity.

  6. The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
    Papá Lupe and grandson Carlitos have just arrived at the arena in Mexico City to watch the lucha libre (Mexican-style wrestling) match, but Tío Vicente, who was supposed to be there too, hasn’t shown up. Carlitos picks out a souvenir mask and decides to root for The Man in the Silver Mask, who, the vendor assures him, is “the greatest luchador of all time!” As three masked rudos (bad guys) enter the ring, Papá Lupe explains why the crowd erupts in derision, and when the trio of técnicos follows, Carlitos recognizes his newfound hero in the silver boots, tights, and mask. Tío Vicente shows up after the match, and, although Carlitos’ uncle is in fact the flashy wrestler who vanquished the rudos, to his nephew’s delight. Carlitos’ story, told in English and Spanish on facing pages, is a completely dispensable framework for the real appeal of the brawny comix-like paintings in vivid Mexican folkloric colors of hyper-muscular wrestlers in their superhero (and supervillain) garb and the cogent explanations of arena traditions and ritualized fighting style. A lengthy endnote offers background on lucha libre history, extending the interest of this title to readers who are too sophisticated to enjoy the paper-thin family story. Children familiar with the sport will welcome the vibrant visual paean, while fans of wrestling, comic-book superheroes, and all things pugilistic will wonder where lucha libre has been all their lives.

  7. Alive Columbus
    Do you love Mexican wrestling, but find yourself having trouble explaining the appeal of the mysterious masked musclemen to your young niece or nephew? Then perhaps you should let the words and paintings of artist Xavier Garza do the talking for you. His new children’s book Lucha Libre: The Man in the Silver Mask is a primer for kids and grownups into the south-of-the-border sport that provided pop-culture inspiration for surf rockers Los Straitjackets, cartoon Mucha Lucha and crazy B-movies like Santo Versus the Vampire Women.

    For the kids is the main event, about a youngster whose father takes him to watch wrestling while visiting his big bicep-ed tio Vicente, who suspiciously is never there when the Man in the Silver Mask is. The boy learns about the rudos, the scary bad guys like El Cavernicola, The Evil Caveman who are willing to cheat to win, and the heroic técnico, who will “earn his victory fair and square by using his superior wrestling skills.”

    For the grown-ups, the story is followed by “a brief but tremendously exciting history” of lucha libre. Both age groups should appreciate Garza’s paintings, with their folk art/street mural vibe, thick line strokes and white-warm colors—even if it’s for different reasons.

  8. El Paso Times
    The classic battle inside and outside the ring in Mexican wrestling always pits good vs. evil—usually involving masked competitors.

    Xavier Garza transforms this Mexican cultural icon into an entertaining illustrated bilingual cuento in “Lucha Libre: The Man in the Silver Mask”. Garza honed his skills as an author, artist and storyteller growing up in the small border town of Rio Grande City, Texas.

    In Garza’s tale, Carlitos and his father, Lupe, wind up at the lucha libre matches, booing the bad guys, El Cucuy, El Vampiro, El Cavernicola and cheering for the good guys, El Gallo Enmascarado, El Toro Grande and everybody’s hero, El Hombre de la Mascara Plateada. He keeps wondering why his Uncle Vicente isn’t there. Garza throws in a bonus, a brief history of lucha libre. Countless Mexican boys grew up dreaming that they might be as brave as El Santo, Mexico’s most famous masked wrestler.

    Garza’s excellent contribution to children’s literature will definitely introduce new audiences to the fantastic world of lucha libre.

  9. El Paso Inside & Out Magazine
    Narrated by a young lucha libre fan, The Man in the Silver Mask tells the story of a boy’s trip with his Papá Lupe to a match. The eye-popping illustrations, by author Xavier Garza, highlight the exciting world of Mexican wrestling where the action is brutal, the crowd goes wild, and real men wear masks.

    Papá Lupe promises the narrator that he’ll see Tío Vicente at the event, but the boy’s uncle is nowhere to be found. The boy’s attentions turns to “the greatest luchador of all time: The Man in the Silver Mask.” Papá reminds him that a true luchador is never seen without his mask, “Anyone could be a masked luchador and you would never know it.” With Tío Vicente still missing, the match begins. Los Rudos, the cheaters come in first, booed loudly by the audience. Then, Los Técnicos, the heroes of the day, arrive. The fighting is brutal. In the middle of the action, The Man in the Silver Mask stops and stares right at the young narrator. The boy can hardly believe his eyes, “The Man in the Silver Mask smiles at me as if he knows me!”

    More surprises are in store for the little boy when the match ends and his mysterious uncle finally shows up. A fun read for all ages, the real drama in this book lies in the gorgeous color illustrations. The Man in the Silver Mask is my hero.

  10. El Mundo
    Hay que darle las gracias a Xavier Garza por traer a El Santo, el luchador mexicano más famoso de la historia, directamente a los corazones de los niños en un libro bilingüe publicado este mes.

    Garza, pintor y escritor de 36 años del pequeño Rio Grande City (en el condado de Starr, frontera con Tamaulipas), narra su cuento tanto en inglés como en español. Además es el autor de las ilustraciones de Lucha Libre: The Man in the Silver Mask. A Bilingual Cuento, publicado por la editorial Cinco Puntos.

    “La lucha libre es el teatro de los pobres”, dijo Garza en una entrevista con RUMBO. “Tanto los luchadores rudos como los técnicos se convierten en leyendas, son héroes, modelos a seguir para la juventud mexicana”, dijo Garza. El autor recuerda una experiencia que vivió cuando era niño y que lo dejaría marcado. Cuenta que su padre lo llevó a Camargo (México) en un viaje corto en auto a través del puente internacional. Y ahí conoció de primera mano lo que es el espectáculo de la lucha libre, animando a sus luchadores favoritos.

    “Las familias que no tenían medios para ir al teatro, por el contrario sí podían juntar el dinero para llevar a toda la familia a ver la lucha libre”. Después pasaba los veranos pegado a la televisión, viendo las películas de El Santo. Y siempre que tenía la oportunidad compraba los libros de historietas del personaje. Su primer libro, publicado por una editorial apenas el año pasado, se llama Creepy Creatures and other Cucuys, del que ya ha vendido 15,000 copias. Pero aun así lograr la publicación del segundo, Lucha Libre, fue muy difícil.

    Garza comenzó a escribir hace poco más de 10 años. Al principio leía partes de sus obras en cafés y otros lugares públicos. Después ‘imprimía’ él mismo sus libros con ayuda de una copiadora. Garza empezó a pintar, con idea de ilustrar las historias que trataba en su ficción. Ilustrando los cuentos del chupacabras que corría en la imaginación de los niños, e historias que mostraban cómo los pequeños se enfrentaban a los problemas que se vivían en las ciudades del sur de Texas.

    “Para mí, la pintura y la escritura van juntas”, comenta Garza. “Escribo y pinto sólo acerca de lo que he vivido, y cuando se ha vivido en la frontera, eso es mucho”. Aunque Garza trata a la pintura y la escritura como una sola disciplina, su talento en ambos campos ha sido reconocido por separado. Sus cuadros se han exhibido con frecuencia en la Galería Gallista de San Antonio.

    Se ha reconocido la importancia de su obra pictórica en libros de arte chicano como: Chicano Artists of the Millennium en 2003, publicado por la Universidad de Arizona. La combinación de pintura y escritura de Garza es extraordinaria, pero dice que lo que hace no tiene nada de extraordinario, que la magia está en la cultura dentro de la cual creció.

    “Pero hay una belleza ilimitada en estas experiencias comunes y corrientes”, dijo. Por ejemplo, en Lucha Libre los personajes utilizan sus cuerpos como un lienzo. Sus disfraces de colores los convierten en santos, en demonios y en dioses aztecas.

    “Así pintan escenas que nos recuerdan que estamos en el centro de una lucha entre el bien el mal”. En sus historias y pinturas, el bueno siempre gana, algo que Garza espera que se convierta en una verdad para los niños a los que llegará su libro. Con ese mensaje espera que los pequeños sigan su camino por el mundo, inspirados en las batallas de sus luchadores favoritos; una batalla entre el bien y el mal.

  11. Yellow Brick Road
    Wrestling matches in Mexico feature good guys (los tecnicos) and bad guys (los rudos). At the match in Mexico City, Carlito wishes his Tio Vicente could be there, but the famous luchador The Man in the Iron Mask has eyes that look very familiar…Garza highlights the power of wrestling (Lucha libre) in Mexico, and the mythology of good and evil played out on the wrestling stage.

  12. Teaching Tolerance
    Xavier Garza tells the story of Lucha Libre, Mexico’s freestyle wrestling sport, which mirrors a fight between good and evil. Favorite heroes and feared villains in outrageous costumes wrestle for victory in the wonderful Mexican tale.

  13. Children’s Literature
    Carlitos is on his first trip to Mexico City to see a Mexican wrestling match with his father and his uncle. The adventure begins when Carlitos gets to choose a mask as a souvenir of the event; after careful consideration, he chooses that of the Man in the Silver Mask. Putting on the mask makes Carlitos feel powerful and excited as he learns about the good vs. evil aspects of lucha libre and its roster of characters. But all this excitement makes Carlitos miss his uncle, who has not yet shown up, especially when the Man in the Silver Mask stops ringside and looks very intently at him. After the fight, in which the good guys win, Carlitos comes across his uncle who just happens to have a Silver Mask figurine for him. Though Carlitos does not confirm his uncle’s identity as the Man in the Silver Mask, the possibility is awfully likely. This dramatic tension is subtle throughout the book, particularly in contrast to the bold illustrations and poster-style design, which are more exciting than the narrative. Garza includes a valuable addendum regarding the history of lucha libre, which is informative without being inaccessible to children.

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