Tafolla, Morales honored with Tomás Rivera Children’s Book Award

SAN MARCOS – How many uses are there for a traditional Mexican popsicle treat on a hot summer day? Turns out there are quite a few, and for that the book What Can You Do with a Paleta?, written by Carmen Tafolla and illustrated by Magaly Morales, has been named the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award recipient for works published in 2008-09.

Tafolla is a repeat honoree, having previously won for her book The Holy Tortilla and a Pot of Beans. The award, established at Texas State University-San Marcos in 1995, is designed to encourage authors, illustrators and publishers to produce books that authentically reflect the lives of Mexican American children and young adults in the United States.

The award will be presented this fall on the Texas State campus with additional events scheduled in cooperation with the Texas Book Festival to be announced. The Tomás Rivera considers works in two categories: “Works for Older Children/Young Adult” and “Works for Younger Children,”with each category under consideration in alternate years. This year’s winner was nominated as “Works for Younger Children.” More than 40 books published in 2008 and 2009 in this category were considered for this year’s Tomás Rivera Award.

What Can You Do with a Paleta? takes readers on a joyous stroll through the barrio while considering all the different things that may be done with a paleta–an icy, fresh-fruit treat. Tafolla’s inventive and poetic writing, coupled with Morales’ vibrant illustrations, work to portray the beauty of the barrio and the importance of community.

Living and writing in her hometown of San Antonio, Tafolla has cultivated a reputation as a folklorist of the Chicano-Mexicano community. Her work has been recognized at the Texas Book Festival, UCI National Literary competition and Wellington International Poetry Festival. Her children’s books include That’s Not Fair!: Emma Tenayuca’s Struggle for Justice/ No es Justo!: La Lucha de Emma Tenayuca por la Justicia, What Can You Do with a Rebozo? and Baby Coyote and the Old Woman.

Morales is a native of Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico, where she showed interest in painting and design from an early age. Her other illustrative works include A Latino Twelve Days of Christmas by Pat Mora and Chavela and the Magic Bubble by Monica Brown. Morales lives in Mexico with her husband and children where she works as a freelance designer and physical education teacher.

The 2010 Rivera Award Committee also named one honor book: Just in Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book, written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales and published by Roaring Brook Press.

After determining the winner of the award, the National Committee may choose to name honor books. Honor books are books that are deemed by the committee to be distinguished and truly representative of the spirit of the award. There is no set number of books to be named in this category. In the event that more than one book is named, they are announced in alphabetical order, by author, to accord equal honor to all of the books.

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What Can You Do With A Paleta? [2010 Winner]

Written by Carmen Tafolla
Illustrated by Magaly Morales

Book Synopsis:

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.

The Holy Tortilla and a Pot of Beans [2009 Co-Winner]

The Holy Tortilla and a Pot of Beans                 Written by Carmen Tafolla

Book Synopsis:

In this wonderfully creative collection of sixteen short stories, Tafolla brings to life the bilingual/bicultural world of the Texas-Mexico border. As in her previous works, Tafolla celebrates the resilient human spirit of her characters amidst the prejudice and hypocrisy, the faith and magic, and the family, and community that are part of this world. The stories are poignant, even tragic, and they are funny, filled with humor. Tafolla’s energy is felt throughout. As Carmen herself says, “ It’s about those things that are really holy and miraculous, but it’s also about those very common, underappreciated blessings, like a homemade pot of beans.”

Dr. Carmen Tafolla, a native of San Antonio, is an internationally acclaimed writer, poet, performer, and educational consultant. She has developed a reputation as a folklorist of the Chicano-Mexicano community. Described by Alex Haley as a ‘world class writer,’ she has published poetry, screenplays, children’s books, short stories and articles. Her work has appeared in over 200 anthologies, and she has performed her one-woman show, “My Heart Speaks a Different Language.” In addition to the Rivera Award winning book, The Holy Tortilla and a Pot of Beans, she has also published other recent children’s books, What Can You Do with a Rebozo? , and What Can You Do with a Paleta?. Another recent children’s book features the activist who stood up for the pecan shellers of San Antonio in the 1930s, That’s Not Fair!: Emma Tenayuca’s Struggle for Justice/¡No es Justo!: La Lucha de Emma Tenayuca por la Justicia (2008). Tafolla earned her Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin. In 1999, she was awarded the Art of Peace Award for writing which furthered peace, justice, and human understanding. Her work has been recognized at the Texas Book Festival, UCI National Literary Competition, and the Wellington International Poetry Festival.

He Forgot To Say Goodbye [2009 Co-Winner]

He Forgot to Say Goodbye                                   Written 
by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Book Synopsis:

In this carefully crafted novel, two high school boys develop an unlikely friendship despite their different upbringings. Ramiro Lopez has been raised in the Mexican American working class barrio of El Paso where his brother is lured into the world of drugs, while White Jake Upthegrove has lived in the rich West Side and has a problem managing his anger. Both boys have not known their fathers who abandoned their families early. Ramiro and Jake both come to enjoy and respect the loyal friendship of Alejandra a third strong teenager in this contemporary setting.

Benjamin Alire Sáenz Biographical Information
Benjamin Alire Sáenz was born in Old Picacho just outside of Las Cruces, New Mexico. He studied at St. Thomas Seminary in Denver, Colorado and at the University of Louvain in Belgium where he was ordained as a Catholic priest. He also studied at the University of Texas at El Paso, and at Stanford University where he was a Wallace E. Stegner fellow in poetry and also pursued his doctoral studies in American Literature. Sáenz is an American Book Award-winning author of poetry and prose for both adults and teens and is currently a professor in the creative writing department at the University of Texas, El Paso. His first young adult novel, Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood, was published in 2004 and won the Américas Book Award, the Patterson Book Prize, the J. Hunt Award, and was even named one of the top ten books of the year by the American Library Association.