Duncan Tonatiuh

Cindy Seip

Duncan Tonatiuh is a Mexican author and illustrators. His books include Separate Is Never Equal, Pancho Rabbit and The Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale; and Diego Rivera: His World and Ours. His work is inspired by Ancient Mexican art, particularly that of the Mixtec codex.

Soldier for Equality tells the story of José de la Luz Sáenz (1888–1953). Although he was born in the United States, Luz, as he was nicknamed, and his family experienced prejudice because of their Mexican heritage. When World War I broke out, he volunteered to join the fight. Because of his ability to quickly learn languages, he became part of the Intelligence Office in Europe. However, despite his hard work and intellect, Luz often didn’t receive credit for his contributions. Upon his return to the US, he joined other Mexican-Americans whom he had met in the army to fight for equality. His contribution, along with others, ultimately led to the creation of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), which is the oldest Latino civil rights organization. Duncan Tonatiuh based Soldier for Equality in part on Luz’s diary during the war. It includes a biography of Luz’s later years, an author’s note, a timeline, a bibliography, and an index. Kirkus Reviews praised Tonatiuh’s “insightful use of Sáenz’s war-diary entries boldly introduces this extraordinary American’s triumphs and struggles . . . An important contribution to this volatile chapter in U.S. and Mexican American history.”