Written by Winifred Conkling
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.
Written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh
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.
2011 Winner of the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award
BAIT Written by Alex Sanchez
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.
Written by Carmen Tafolla
Illustrated by Magaly Morales
What Can You Do With a Paleta? takes readers on a joyous stroll through the barrio while thinking about all that you can do with a paleta – an icy, fresh-fruit treat. Carmen Tafolla’s inventive and poetic writing exemplifies the importance of community in a playful manner that every reader will love. The rich illustrations and colors used by Magaly Morales capture the beauty of the barrio and the relationship between a child and her barrio. From giving yourself a big, blue mustache to licking, slurping, and munching it, you will quickly learn there are many things you can do with a paleta.
Winner of the 2010 Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, What Can You Do With a Paleta? was selected for its value and celebration of the barrio. From the perspective of a child, we see the spirit of Tomás Rivera in the book – pride and love of your barrio and where you come from. Not only will readers from 2 – 6 years-old enjoy the imaginative language and design of What Can You Do With a Paleta?, but the book can also be enjoyed by older children.
Carmen Tafolla is widely known as one of the most prolific authors of Mexican-American literature for audiences of all ages. Having authored more than 200 textbooks, readers, anthologies, and journals, Carmen Tafolla captures in her writing the essence of the Mexican-American experience. Recently, Carmen was awarded the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award for Young Adults with her collection of short stories entitled The Holy Tortilla and a Pot of Beans.
Magaly Morales is the illustrator of What Can You Do With a Paleta?, winner of the 2010 Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award for Young Children. Her talent for illustration is evident in how she was able to capture the theme of the book – love for your community. As you turn the pages of the book you can see the joyful experience of eating a paleta with the people in your own barrio. Magaly’s talent for illustrating can also be seen in A Latino Twelve Days of Christmas by Pat Mora and Chavela and the Magic Bubble by Monica Brown. Magaly is a native of Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico where she was an active and engaged child. From an early age she showed interest in painting and design. Magaly was a competitive swimmer for which she has gained national recognition. Currently, Magaly lives with husband Isael and their children Rodrigo and Quetzally in Mexico. There she is a freelance designer and Physical Education teacher. Magaly holds a Master of Arts degree in Gestalt Psychotherapy.