Sylvia and Aki [2012 Co-Winner]

Written by Winifred Conkling

Book Synopsis:

The book Sylvia and Aki recounts the true story of Sylvia Mendez and Aki Munemitsu. Told in alternating chapters from the girls’ points of view, the story about institutional racism enlightens readers to events in recent history of the US. Aki’s family was relocated from their family farm to a Japanese internment camp in the Arizona desert. Meanwhile, Sylvia’s family has rented the Munemitsu farm and Sylvia and her brothers are not allowed to enroll in the nearby school. Instead, they are sent to the “Mexican school.” This sets the stage for Sylvia’s father to challenge in court the separation of races in California’s schools. The case, Mendez vs. Westminster School District is considered one of the precursors to Brown vs. Board of Education and helped build the case that would end school segregation nationally.

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Diego Rivera: His World and Ours [2012 Co-Winner

Written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh

Book Synopsis:

Diego Rivera: His World and Ours, highlights the accomplishments of Mexican painter, activist, and muralist Diego Rivera. Tonatiuh’s stylized illustrations include elements of Mayan artwork and represent his interpretation of Rivera’s work. Tonatiuh prompts readers to think about the question: what would Diego Rivera paint if he were alive today? Through innovative digital collage, Tonatiuh juxtaposes contemporary Mexican life with the past.

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Bait [2011 Winner]

2011 Winner of the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award
BAIT Written by Alex Sanchez

Book Synopsis:
The book Bait is about the emotional journey of Diego, a troubled sixteen-year-old boy, who is forced to confront painful secrets from his past. Author Alex Sanchez masterfully tells Diego’s story as he goes through an emotional transformation with the help of Mr. Vidas, his probation officer. At first, it is very difficult for Diego to trust Mr. Vidas and talk about his past. Over time, Diego recognizes Mr. Vidas as one of the only trustworthy adults in his life. Together they examine Diego’s experiences and begin to understand how those experiences set up patterns of behavior that continue to haunt him. Through their relationship, Diego learns to make sense of his experiences and deal with his emotions in a constructive way. The book resists stereotyping and oversimplification allowing readers to witness the long and difficult process of dealing with emotional turmoil resulting from past abuse. This groundbreaking work boldly addresses important issues that are often hidden away and ignored out of fear and shame. The well-developed characters in the novel bring these issues to the fore and show us the urgency and necessity for creating safe spaces for young people. A central message of the book is that through caring relationships with supportive adults, young people are able to overcome painful experiences to lead healthy lives.

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