If you don’t know who Anthony Reynoso, Jr. is, just ask your second-grader.
The star of “Anthony Reynoso: Born to Rope,” a children’s book used nationwide to help teach critical reading skills to schoolchildren, is real.
He’s part of The Roping Reynosos, a Guadalupe family that will perform twice July 18 at libraries in Mesa. The performances, at 11 a.m. at Dobson Ranch Library and 2 p.m. at Main Library, are free.
“The group is my husband, Tony, our oldest son, Anthony Jr., our other son, Jeremy, and our daughter, Analise,” says clan mom Elizabeth Reynoso. “They’ve been performing for years and years. They all start at 3 or 4. I think that’s why they named the book ‘Born to Rope,’ because (Anthony) had no choice. They all had no choice.”
The family pastime — chronicled in the 1996 book about Anthony and his father — goes back four generations to her husband’s grandfather, a Mexican rancher.
“It’s called Floreo de Reata — Mexican rope tricks, but it’s more than tricks. It’s really an art,” says Elizabeth of the fancy Charro style roping, which can be done on the ground or on horseback. Each of the Reynoso children have learned the proud tradition, performing alongside dad Tony in Mexican rodeo attire two to three times a week January through May.
Mostly, they entertain at schools, where, Elizabeth says, children are always stunned to find Anthony, now 27, has grown up — and gotten married. In the book, he is a 9-year-old.
“But then they are so excited to see the story coming to life, they get past it,” she says.
Wednesday’s performances will feature Tony, along with Jeremy, 17, and Analise, 10.
“Jeremy and Analise are both left-handed, and they had to learn for the right, so it was even more complex for them,” says their mom.
Despite the 16 years since “Born to Rope’s” publication, the story is still in use in schools. Anthony has also done commercials for The Travel Channel. Years ago, he and Tony appeared in an episode of “Sesame Street” filmed at Corona Ranch in Laveen.
“We get e-mails from Taiwan, Bolivia, Spain, Russia,” says Elizabeth, but the family seldom travels far and wide for performances.
“It’s much more of a tradition than a business,” says Elizabeth. “Our children still are continuing their education and their extra-curriculars. They’ve had the roping and the shows on the side, but it’s never gotten so big they couldn’t do other extra-curricular activities.”
Besides, Jeremy works as a bus boy on the weekends, something Anthony — who now runs his own landscaping business — also did at the other family enterprise: Arizona’s Casa Reynoso restaurants. The eateries were started by Tony’s parents.
If you go: The Roping Reynosos will appear twice July 18 at Mesa Public Libraries, first from 11 a.m. to noon at Dobson Ranch Branch Library, 2425 S. Dobson Road, and again 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Main Library, 64 E. First St. Performances are free. For information, call (480) 644-3441 or visit mesalibrary.org. They plan to perform in October at the Tempe Tareada.
Contact writer: (480) 898-6818 or firstname.lastname@example.org