Showing posts with label Arte Público. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arte Público. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New Children's Books from Piñata Books- Arte Público Press

Estas manos: Manitas de mi familia / These Hands: My Family’s Hands

by Samuel Caraballo
Illustrated by Shawn Costello
ISBN: 978-1-55885-795-7

Publication Date: 10/31/14
Bind: Hardcover

Pages: 32

Ages: 4-8

In this heart-warming ode to family, the young narrator compares the hands of family members to plants in the natural world. “Your hands, the most tender hands! / When I’m scared, / They soothe me,” she says to her mother. The girl compares her mother’s hands to rose petals, which represent tenderness in Latin America.
Her father’s hands are strong like the mahogany tree; her siblings’ friendly like the blooming oak tree. Grandma Inés’ are the happiest hands, like tulips that tickle and hug tightly. And Grandpa Juan’s are the wisest, like the ceiba tree, considered by many indigenous peoples of Latin America to be the tree of life and wisdom and the center of the universe. His are the hands that teach his granddaughter how to plant and care for the earth and how to play the conga drum.
She promises to give back all the love they have always given her, “Dad, when your feet get tired, / My hands will not let you fall.” Samuel Caraballo’s poetic text is combined with Shawn Costello’s striking illustrations depicting loving relationships between family members. An author’s note about Latin American symbols will introduce children both to the natural world and the idea that one thing can represent another.

Cecilia and Miguel Are Best Friends / Cecilia y Miguel son mejores amigos

by Diane Gonzales Bertrand
Illustrated by Thelma Muraida
ISBN: 978-1-55885-794-0

Publication Date: 10/31/14

Bind: Hardcover

Pages: 32

Ages: 4-8

Cecilia and Miguel are best friends, and have been since the third grade when he gave her bunny ears in the class picture. Their life-long friendship is recorded in warm recollections of bike races and soccer games, beach time and fishing from the pier.
Their closeness endures separation, “even when he drove north to college and she drove west.” The relationship evolves and grows, but remains strong even when … he dropped the ring and she found it inside her flan … he set up one crib and she told him they need two … the twins climb into their bed and beg for another story. In this celebration of friendship, best friends forgive mistakes, share adventures and—sometimes—even become family!
Popular children’s book author Diane Gonzales Bertrand teams up with illustrator Thelma Muraida to create an album of memories that reflect their shared Mexican-American childhood in San Antonio, Texas: swinging at birthday party piñatas, breaking cascarones over friends’ heads and dancing at quinceañeras. Young children are sure to giggle at the adventures of Cecilia and Miguel, and they’ll be prompted to ask about their parents’ relationship as well as explore their own.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

AW-Guy (Angry White Guy) villains

I throw this out especially to latino fiction writers as a suggestion, an idea for varying and deepening portrayals of living in America. I don't know the research or data on this, but it seems to me latinos write plenty about the stereotypical racist sheriff, Klan member or bruto Texan rancher. Racist is the key word, a stereotype that's easy to fall back on.

In contemporary America, the racists may not be changing, but the white-Anglo, middle class is. They've lost pensions, investments, homes, jobs and status. And some percentage of them blame us, the minorities. They might not have been raised by racist parents. But they've fallen into and been groomed into believing that such ideas may not be so "wrong."

The next time you as a writer need to create a bad-guy antagonist, don't go the lazy Anglo-racist-route. Consider creating someone more complex than a Sheriff Arpaio clone. I'm not latino-fiction-well-read-enough to say how often such a character has appeared. I'm just saying Mr. AWM Bad Guy might give you more possibilities to weave complex plots, character development and resolutions than the flat, boring racist.

Whenever race comes up, so do labels. Added to the rest of us who are already American-branded with something, the 90s term, AWMs (prounounced like alms, which seems appropriate, given the mentality explained below). Angry white men; ditto, angry white males.

I tried AWG(ringo)s, but AWGs sounds too porcine and wouldn't be well received. AWA(nglos)s--AWAs sounds like a "watered"-down term, so it doesn't work either. I stick with AWMs, unless I think one of them won't hit me, in which case I might say, "AW-Guy, are you really swallowing Limbaugh's mierda!?"

Two articles last month brought fresh material to the label. I don't suggest that dark or non-Anglo-surnamed gente try debating the topic with an AWG, but the convergence of the two articles seem good material for creating more realistic, contemporary characters.

The ones I would suggest using the material are the N(on)AWMs. It's their job to deal with their own. I got enough problems with AC(hicano)Ms who believe that the call letters of their shock jock station are T-R-U-T-H.

Angry White Men

On his website The Weekly Sift, Doug Muder reviews Michael Kimmel's book Angry White Men. It's captioned: "They may not feel powerful, but they do feel entitled to feel powerful."

Here are excerpts from a solid review that I recommend reading in its entirety:
"Nobody ever asked why a white man had killed President Kennedy or tried to kill President Reagan. The gunmen had names; their stories were presumed to be personal. When Bernie Madoff conned his investors out of billions, nobody asked “What makes a white man do something like that?” or “What should be done about the white male swindler problem?”

He had 48 bombs, some remotely controlled.
My case in point to Muder's observation is the AWM recently busted outside of Ohio's state capitol. He had "a handgun, 48 bombs, and additional bomb-making materials, two pistols and two rifles, as well as a bulletproof vest. Some of the 48 bombs were connected to remote detonators, making it clear that Boguslawski was on his way to plant these bombs. The mainstream media hasn’t shown interest in this case yet. One might wonder whether this would be the case if Boguslawski’s name was 'Abdullah.' "

Muder goes on: "The upshot is that although we are surrounded by angry white men — on talk radio, on the internet, on the highways, in the workplace, in the NRA and the Tea Party, in the “men’s rights” movement, and in countless acts of domestic violence or public mayhem from Columbine to Sandy Hook—we aren’t having a national discussion about the anger problem of whites or men or white men. That’s because we don’t see them as white men.

"Chapter by chapter, Kimmel's book calls attention to angry white men wherever they are found: the loudest voices on the radio, the school shooters, the anti-feminist men’s-rights movement and its Dad’s-rights subculture, the wife beaters, the workers who go postal, and the white supremacists. He asks and answers the question you seldom hear: What makes white men so angry? What links all these different groups is a single core experience: what I call aggrieved entitlement."

Of course these AWMs don't direct their anger against their oppressors; they use it against us. George Zimmerman is their poster child (emphasis on the child, if you add psychopathic before it).

So if you need bio/psych material for your next angry gringo antagonist, begin with Muder's review, check out the book Angry White Men and then grab your keyboard.

Anglos think they suffer more racism than...

A different take on the same question can be found in the article Study Finds White Americans Believe They Experience More Racism Than African Americans from a study conducted by researchers from Tufts University and Harvard Business School.

Their findings: "Self-described white Americans believe they have 'replaced blacks' as the primary victims of racial discrimination in America. While both Caucasian and African Americans agreed that anti-black racism has decreased over the last 60 years, whites believe that anti-white racism has increased. The majority of Caucasians interviewed believe anti-white racism is a 'bigger problem' than what African Americans face.

"Tufts Associate Professor of Psychology Samuel Sommers, PhD co-authored another article Whites See Racism as a Zero-sum Game that They Are Now Losing, from the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science. He comments that 'It’s a pretty surprising finding when you think of the wide range of disparities that still exist in society, most of which show black Americans with worse outcomes than whites in areas such as income, home ownership, health and employment.'

"The study by Sommers and Michael I. Norton of Harvard asked a roughly equal national sample of 209 Caucasians and 208 African Americans to indicate, on a scale of 1 to 10, the extent to which they felt blacks and whites were the targets of discrimination in decades spanning from the 1950s to the 2000s. The scale’s ranking of 1 indicated 'not at all' while 10 indicates 'very much.'

"Both groups reported roughly the same for the 1950s, with neither believing Caucasians experienced much racism at all during that turbulent decade. Both similarly agreed that at the same time, there was substantial racism against African Americans. Both groups also agreed that racism against African Americans has steadily decreased over time.

"Here’s where the study gets interesting. Caucasians surveyed believe that the discrimination faced by their African American neighbors has decreased much more rapidly than the African American respondents. Furthermore, they believe that while African Americans now have it better, they–the Caucasians–have taken their place as the primary targets of discrimination.

“These data are the first to demonstrate that not only do whites think more progress has been made toward equality than do blacks, but whites also now believe that this progress is linked to a new inequality, at their expense.

"Norton and Sommers explain. An astounding 11% of Caucasian respondents assigned the maximum rating of 10 to the seriousness of anti-white discrimination. Compare that with only 2% who reported the same of anti-black racism. Caucasians often believe that racial equality is a zero sum game where one group gains at the expense of others."

Political Blind Spot "reports newsworthy stories underreported by the media or completely ignored; not stories lacking credibility, but simply swept under the rug, through government pressure or private industry self-censorship."

From Arte Público:

Es todo, hoy,
Author FB -
Twitter - DiscardedDreams

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Be a Santa. Writing workshops. Arte Público.

Santas needed for striking farmworkers' niños

La Bloga was asked to pass along this request:        
"I am having a Navidad dinner for the workers who have been on strike since September against Sakuma Brothers Farms, a national agri-business, for its unfair labor practices.

"I would like to give the workers' children books for Christmas. Would any authors or others be willing to donate children's books to this event? I am in need of young teen books, but books for 5-10 year olds are also most appreciated.

The dinner will be on Dec 16. Please sent books to: Angelica Guillen, 20946 Lake 16 Rd., Mount Vernon, WA 98274.
Gracias! Angelica Guillen

Felix Gomez fans beware!

Followers of vampiristo novelist Mario Acevedo might be naively happy about this message from the author:

"I typed THE END. Draft one of Rescue From Planet Pleasure is done, cabrones!"

Will the toothy, macho-fatale Felix Gomez be detectiving again in time for Xmas 2014? Browse the shelves of your local blood bank, to find out. Or Acevedo's website.

AWP Panel: 35th Anniversary of Arte Público

From J.L. Torres, Professor of English at SUNY Plattsburgh:
Any writers published by Arte Publico Press going to the AWP conference in Seattle who may be interested in participating on a reading panel celebrating Arte Publico's 35th anniversary, please shoot me a message.

Arte Público books by raza authors - gift ideas

Writing workshops for people of color

Applications are now open for the June 22-28, 2014, VONA/Voices Summer 2014 writing workshops to be held at the University of California, Berkeley. Junot Díaz, among others, will be one of the master faculty.

From their website:
"VONA/Voices, the only(?) multi-genre workshop for writers of color in the nation, brings writers of color from the margins to a community where their work is centralized and honored. Join us for a week of writing workshops.

"In all workshops, writers exchange their works, share strategies and have discussions vital to their craft, practices and lives as writers of color. In the residencies, writers work one-on-one with their master faculty member and meet with the residency group. All writers of color are welcome to apply regardless of experience, age, or status."

Es todo, hoy,

Friday, May 11, 2012

Add Javier O. Huerta to Your Grocery List

by Melinda Palacio

Javier O. Huerta’s second book of poems, American Copia: An Immigrant Epic, is a life-changing theoretical, metaphorical, and physical trip to the grocery store. What began as simple statement, Today, I am going to the grocery store, turned into a catch phrase, which turn into a sequel to his book. Since the word, Copia, translates directly from Huerta copying down the sentence he received when he became a naturalized U.S. citizen, the poet also plays on the word Copia by copying from himself, a recursive trick to keep literature graduate students entertained for years.  Huerta himself is a Ph.D. student in English at UC Berkeley.

American Copia takes the reader on several trips to the grocery store. The dynamic fusion of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, English, Spanish, and Spanglish is a cornucopia of words, food, shoppers, lovers, family, and the immigrant experience.

Huerta says he feels fortunate and realizes that part of the publishing and awards game is all about luck. His first book of poems, Some Clarifications y otros poemas (Arte Público Press, 2007) is the recipient of the Chicano/Latino Literary Prize, chosen by Valerie Martinez. He says he hopes his luck continues, but is also conscious of making his own luck. There’s no doubt he will meet his goals of finishing his dissertation and publishing more books, especially one he has in mind on corridos.

Upon meeting Huerta, one wouldn’t know how funny he is because he is shy and reserved. On the page, his poetry and vignettes show a genuinely funny person. His deadpan delivery on and off the page is his strong suit. Huerta admits that slam or performance poetry does not fit his personality as much as telling bad jokes (which he is really good at). In writing a serious story about Memo, a 4-year old grocery cart, Huerta hits his stride and breaks loose as Memo crosses the boundaries of the supermarket’s parking lot. Find all your favorite grocery stores in the book: Safeway, H-E-B, Fiesta, 99 cent stores, Trader Joes, Target, and more.

“I like to word play. I am trying to work on jokes and bilingual relations between English and Spanish. I don’t want to take things too seriously so I throw in a little humor.”

Huerta’s supermarket favorite is the cereal aisle because the boxes are so colorful. “I like to think about the stuff I used to eat,” he said. “I used to get Frosted Flakes, but now that I am supposed to eat healthier and watch my figure, I buy Special K.”

Huerta says he loves La Bloga and hopes readers will buy his book and reminisce about their own fond memories of going to the supermarket.

Next Week, May 19 is Tia Chucha's 7th Annual Celebrating Words Festival, 1pm to 7pm, a free event.

Next week, Tia Chucha's Celebrates its 7th Annual Celebrating Words Festival, May 19, from 1pm to 7pm. Stay for the Tia Chucha Press panel at 3:45 in Room 5 with Luis Rodriguez, Chiwan Choi, Luivette Resto, and Melinda Palacio.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New Bilingual Books from Arte Publico Press/ Piñata Books

No Time for Monsters / No hay tiempo para monstruos
By   Spelile Rivas (Author)
Amira Plascencia (Spanish Translator)
Valeria Cervantes (Illustrator)   

ISBN 9781558854451
30 Apr 2010

An endearing story about a boy who tries 
to avoid chores by blaming monsters

Like most kids, Roberto doesn’t want to help with household chores. Who wants to clean the bedroom? Yuck!
Roberto tells his mother he can’t clean his room because he’s afraid the Closet Monster might lock him away forever! “Maybe you should help me,” he tells his mother. “The Closet Monster is afraid of you.” But Mamá insists he clean his own room.
And when Mamá asks for Roberto’s help wiping the table and sweeping the kitchen floor, he again tries to wiggle out of cleaning because of his fear of monsters. “If I sweep the floor,” he says, “the Dust Monster might come and blow me away forever!”
Later, when Roberto is ready for his mother to read him a story, she turns the tables on him. “If I read you a story,” Mamá says, “the Work Monster might come and take me away forever.” So Roberto grabs a mop and willingly helps his mom finish the chores. Together, Roberto and his mother put an end to the cleaning and the monsters!
In this entertaining picture book about a boy’s creative attempts to avoid doing chores around the house, first-time children’s book author Spelile Rivas creates an amusing scenario to illustrate how working together to complete tasks can be productive and fun.

Abuelo vivía solo / Grandpa Used to Live Alone
Amy Costales (Author)
Esperanza Gama (Illustrator)    

ISBN 9781558855311
Published 30 Apr 2010

A loving homage to the abiding presence
of a grandparent in a young girl’s life

Grandpa used to live alone in a quiet pink house. But when his granddaughter was born, everything changed: “Mamá and I moved in. Grandpa’s house was still pink, but it was not so quiet anymore.”
And Grandpa’s house and garden weren’t as orderly either. Sometimes Grandpa had to pick his way through toys strewn across the floor. Other days he watched her pluck rose buds and beans from his plants. And some days his brick patio was decorated with brightly colored chalk.
While she was a little girl and her mother went to school late in the evening, Grandpa made rice pudding. She would play with the measuring cups and eat raisins while he prepared their bedtime snack and told her stories. Then he would carry her upstairs to her crib and tuck her in. He would rock in the chair by her crib until she went to sleep.
As the years pass, she grew and grew. Grandpa took down her crib and bought her a bed. He taught her how to make rice pudding and play catch. And while she was growing, Grandpa was growing older too. Until all too soon, she was the one making the rice pudding and helping her grandfather up the stairs to bed.
Amy Costales’ heart-warming text, accompanied by Esperanza Gama’s soothing illustrations, lovingly depicts the relationship between a child and a central figure in her life—her grandfather.

Party for Papá Luis, The / La fiesta para Papá Luis
Diane Gonzales Bertrand (Author)
Gabriela Baeza Ventura (Spanish Translator)
Alejandro Galindo (Illustrator)   

ISBN 9781558855328
Published 30 Apr 2010

A festive look at a fun-filled party as family
and friends celebrate a special birthday

Everybody loves a birthday party, and there’s a lot to enjoy at Papá Luis’ fiesta! The children excitedly count the candy that will fill the piñata. The nieces bring the candles for the birthday cake that Mamá Marta baked. Family and friends begin to arrive, and soon, they surprise Papá Luis with his special celebration.
Told in lively verse, this cumulative tale builds from one page to the next as popular children’s book author Diane Gonzales Bertrand presents a charming look at a big family gathering that celebrates the patriarch’s birthday.
Like her previous award-winning book, The Empanadas that Abuela Made / Las empanadas que hacía la abuela, Diane Gonzales Bertrand gives emerging readers another book that creates confidence and skills through repetition and sentence building.
Accompanied by Alejandro Galindo’s whimsical illustrations of big-eyed children and elderly family members dancing and enjoying each other, this fun-filled fiesta is sure to delight children ages 4 – 8. After reading this appealing bilingual story, kids will eagerly begin planning their own birthday parties.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

UFWOC grapes. Great deal on bilingual books. Biblioburro.

Hace mucho tiempo, when we were fit enough to carry a picket sign and young enough to walk a picket line holding it, supporting the United Farmworkers (UFWOC) was an easy decision. Hell, back then some of us couldn't even afford to buy grapes, so it wasn't such a sacrifice to stand up for the basic civil/human rights of those who provide our food.

If you've been out of that loop, you may be surprised to hear that the struggle is not over. And needs our support, again. Below is a message from UFWOC that deserves your read, if not more:

Tell 3,000 stores about Giumarra Vineyards' abuses

Retailers are in a special position to keep their suppliers accountable. This is why farm workers out at Giumarra Vineyards, the nation's largest table grape grower, are seeking their help in keeping their employer accountable.

We know from experience, however, that it is you--the consumer--whom grocers are most responsive to. Please let Unified Grocers, a Forbes Fortune 1,000 company made up of over 3,000 independent retailers, know that as a purchaser of Giumarra's Nature's Partner produce, they have a responsibility to hold this company to higher standards.

The conditions at Giumarra are deplorable. Go here to see what Giumarra employee Domingo Valderrama says about how his company treats farm workers:

You may be surprised to hear that Giumarra can get away with denying workers water or breaks during the hot summer months of CA's Central Valley, where temperatures climb to the triple digits. Not only is this a grave injustice, it is also illegal. However, this company has a long history of such violations.

State enforcement of the law has proven to be inadequate in protecting these workers. In order to be able to ensure their own protection, farm workers need union representation. Giumarra goes to great lengths to avoid losing any power over the farm workers toiling in their fields. In the past, they've harassed and intimidated workers who have tried to gain union representation.

In order to make sure that Giumarra cannot do this again, we need you to tell the buyers of Giumarra's and Nature's Partner's produce to demand this company uphold the law. Join Domingo in saying, "Si Se Puede!" Click here to send this message to them.

Keep up with the Giumarra campaign at:

Super offer on bilingual books from Arte Público

Celebrate Children's Day / Book Day with a special 50% discount off books purchased for Día events! For inexpensive paperback books for children, such as Día founder Pat Mora's The Desert Is My Mother / El desierto es mi madre, please click here. Or visit our online catalog at

Check out the Biblioburro...

If you missed the spot on CNN about Luis Soriano, an elementary teacher in Columbia, go here.

Click here to read the latest blog post about Soriano, his donkeys Alfa and Beto, and their mission to spread literacy by taking books to children in rural areas in Colombia.

Es todo, hoy

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Arte Público Press

Letter from Nicolás Kanellos, Ph.D.
Arte Público Press Director

Here is wishing you well during these economically trying times. Because many sectors in the economy are fairing poorly, Arte Público Press has also been suffering. As usual, the first budgets to be cut by state and local authorities are those for schools and libraries, precisely the major consumers of our books and where our children most need them. What’s worse, our largest consumers are from California, the state that has seen its schools and public services cut back the most.

If you wish Piñata Books, Arte Público Press and its Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage to continue to present, represent and safeguard Latino culture in education, the media and general society, you must help us overcome this financial shock to our system. Since August, our sales have plummeted by more than 25%, which can only mean laying off professionals and student workers, as well as publishing fewer books and conducting less research.

We can get over the economic hump this year, but only with your help. This is not part of any yearly solicitation that we do. This is a one-time request to help us make it until next fall, when we expect the economy to improve, and schools and libraries to respond.

Please help us with your personal, maximum contribution. Also, please consider sending this letter and attachment to benefactors you know, along with your own personal cover letter, or send us a list of names and addresses, and we will be happy to reach them.

We have very little time left before we seriously cut back our operations, and we urge you to be generous in your contribution and in providing contacts that can help us reach our goal.
Your contribution is fully tax-deductible. You may send us a check directly or use your credit card to donate via our portal

Thanks you so much for your past and current support and continued involvement in Arte Público and Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project. We appreciate your dedication to the importance of our mission and know that you are vital to its success.

With warmest regards and sincere appreciation for your generosity,

Nicolás Kanellos, Ph.D.

Friday, July 10, 2009


A half-dozen selections from the Arte Público Fall catalog:

Death at Solstice: A Gloria Damasco Mystery
Lucha Corpi, September

Chicana detective Gloria Damasco has a "dark gift," an extrasensory prescience that underscores her investigations and compels her to solve numerous cases. This time, the recurring vision haunting her dreams contains two pairs of dark eyes watching her in the night, a phantom horse and rider, and the voice of a woman pleading for help. But most disquieting of all is Gloria’s sensation of being trapped underwater, unable to free herself, unable to breathe.

When Gloria is asked to help the owners of the Oro Blanco winery in California’s Shenandoah Valley, she finds herself on the road to the legendary Gold Country. And she can’t help but wonder if the ever-more persistent visions might foreshadow this new case that involves the theft of a family heirloom, a pair of antique diamond and emerald earrings rumored to have belonged to Mexico’s Empress Carlota.

Soon Gloria learns that there’s more to the case than stolen jewelry. Mysterious accidents, threatening anonymous notes, the disappearance of a woman believed to be a saint, and a ghost horse thought to have belonged to notorious bandit Joaquín Murrieta are some of the pieces Gloria struggles to fit together. A woman’s gruesome murder and the discovery of a group of young women from Mexico being held against their will in an abandoned house send Gloria on a fateful journey to a Witches’ Sabbath to find the final pieces of the puzzle before someone else is killed.

Corpi weaves the rich cultural history of California’s Gold Country with a suspenseful mystery in this latest installment in the Gloria Damasco Mystery series.

In addition to poetry and mystery novels, Lucha Corpi also writes for children. In 1997, she published her first bilingual picture book, Where Fireflies Dance / Ahí, donde bailan las luciérnagas (Children’s Book Press), and The Triple Banana Split Boy / Diente dulce (Arte Público Press, 2009).

Corpi holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from UC-Berkley and an M.A. in World and Comparative Literature from San Francisco State University. A tenured teacher in the Oakland Public Schools Neighborhood Centers Program for 30 years, she retired in 2005.

Meet Me Under the Ceiba
Silvio Sirias, September

"I’m not afraid of that old man," Adela once told her niece. But everyone in the small town of La Curva, Nicaragua, knew that the wealthy land owner, Don Roque Ramírez, wanted Adela Rugama dead. And on Christmas Day, Adela disappeared. It was two months before her murdered body was found.

An American professor of Nicaraguan descent spending the summer in his parents’ homeland learns of Adela’s murder and vows to unravel the threads of the mystery. He begins the painstaking process of interviewing the townspeople, and it quickly becomes apparent that Adela—a hard-working campesina who never learned to read and write—and Don Roque had one thing in common: the beautiful Ixelia Cruz. The love of Adela’s life, Ixelia was one of Don Roque’s many possessions until Adela lured her away.

The interviews with Adela’s family, neighbors, and former lovers shed light on the circumstances of her death and reveal the lively community left reeling by her brutal murder, including: her older sister Mariela and her four children, who spent Christmas morning with their beloved aunt, excitedly unwrapping the gifts she brought them that fateful day; her neighbor and friend, Lizbeth Hodgson, the beautiful mulata who rejected Adela’s passionate advances early in their relationship; Padre Uriel, who did not welcome Adela to mass because she loved women (though he has no qualms about his lengthy affair with a married woman); her former lover Gloria, the town’s midwife, who is forever destined to beg her charges to name their newborn daughters Adela.

Through stories and gossip that expose jealousies, scandals, and misfortunes, Sirias lovingly portrays the community of La Curva, Nicaragua, in all its evil and goodness. The winner of the Chicano / Latino Literary Prize, this spellbinding novel captures the essence of a world rarely seen in American literature.

Silvio Sirias is the author of Bernardo and the Virgin (Northwestern University Press, 2007). He has also written and edited several books on Latino/a literature, including Julia Alvarez: A Critical Companion (Greenwood Press, 2001) and Conversations with Rudolfo Anaya (University Press of Mississippi, 1998). He received his doctorate in Spanish from the University of Arizona and worked as a professor of Spanish and U.S. Latino/a literature for several years before returning to live in Nicaragua in 1999. He currently lives in Panama.

Cut & Run: The Misadventures of Alex Perez
Alberto Arcia, September

Alex Perez is an aspiring writer living with his girlfriend Ramona, who feeds him, washes and irons his clothes, and gives him nice and useful gifts. All that is expected of him in return is to satisfy her unquenchable sexual urges. Her mother Charlene is paying Ramona’s bills until she graduates from college, and she thinks Alex is a free loader. He’s horrified when Charlene gives him an ultimatum: "You either marry her or I won’t put out another dime."

Quick thinker that he is, Alex negotiates a dowry: Charlene’s Mercedes Benz convertible and an all-expense-paid road trip to Panama so he can marry Ramona in the presence of his beloved mother. Soon the deal is sealed and Alex finds himself headed down the Pan American Highway with his fiancée and—much to his dismay—his future mother-in-law.

Armed with maps and an assortment of emergency rations, Alex is determined to postpone their arrival in Panama and his impending nuptials. The unlikely trio has just crossed the border when two Mexican street urchins, Junior (Jaime Buffet, Jr.) and his brother Raul, join the group. And before they know it, Alex’s delaying tactics lead the motley crew into a series of dodgy and often perilous situations frequently involving pistol-waving bandits and corrupt government officials. But it’s their efforts to free Charlene’s lover—a defrocked Guatemalan priest—from jail that leads to an even more twisted turn of events!

Their travels through Mexico, Belize and Guatemala introduce them to a slew of colorful characters, including a drunken boat captain and his blind first mate, and a Guatemalan police officer, who owns several whorehouses. Featuring a roguish protagonist with a distinct, humorous voice, Cut & Run: The Misadventures of Alex Perez is a satirical take on the clash of cultures between north and south of the U.S. border.

Alberto Arcia, a native of Panama, lives in Plantersville, Texas. Cut & Run: The Misadventures of Alex Perez is his first novel.

Rudy's Memory Walk
Gloria Velásquez, October

Rudy can’t believe it when his dad says he will have to watch his abuela while his parents go out. He shouldn't have to babysit his own grandmother! And he had plans to go out with his girlfriend, Juanita. His brother Manuel isn’t happy either, and won’t even consider watching Abuela alone.

Nothing has been going right since Abuela moved in. Manuel had to give up his own room and move into Rudy’s, and both boys are unhappy about losing their privacy. Abuela’s forgetfulness and weird behavior has everyone worried, and Rudy’s mom in particular spends lots of time crying.

When Abuela disappears one day, they can’t ignore the problem anymore. A trip to the doctor confirms what they feared: Abuela has Alzheimer’s. What are they going to do? They can’t lock her up, but they can’t be with her every minute of the day either.

As Rudy juggles everything going on in his senior year at Roosevelt High School, including his relationship with Juanita and his friends’ attempts to convince him to enroll in college, his feelings of guilt grow. He can’t help but wish he had his room to himself and that life would go back to the way it was before Abuela moved in.

Rudy’s Memory Walk is the eighth novel in Gloria Velásquez’s popular Roosevelt High School series, which features a multiracial group of teen aged students who must individually confront social and cultural issues (such as violence, sexuality, and prejudice) that young adults face today.

Gloria Velásquez is an internationally acclaimed author who holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University in Latin American and Chicano Literatures. Velásquez is the author of two collections of poetry, I Used to Be a Superwoman (Arte Público Press, 1994) and Xicana on the Run (Chusma House Publications, 2005). She is a professor in the Modern Languages and Literatures Department at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California. Velásquez has also toured throughout the United States performing songs and poetry from her Superwoman Chicana CD.

René Has Two Last Names / René tiene dos apellidos

René Colato Laínez, illustrated by Fabiola Graullera Ramírez, October

"On the first day at my new school, my teacher, Miss Soria, gave me a sticker that said René Colato. The sticker was missing my second last name. Maybe Miss Soria's pen ran out of ink. I took my pencil and added it. Now it looked right: René Colato Laínez."

Young René is from El Salvador, and he doesn't understand why his name has to be different in the United States. When he writes Colato, he sees his paternal grandparents, René and Amelia. When he writes Laínez, he sees his maternal grandparents, Angela and Julio. Without his second last name, René feels incomplete, "like a hamburger without the meat or a pizza without cheese or a hot dog without a wiener."

His new classmates giggle when René tells them his name. "That's a long dinosaur name," one says. "Your name is longer than an anaconda," another laughs. But René doesn't want to lose the part of him that comes from his mother's family. So when the students are given a project to create a family tree, René is determined to explain the importance of using both of his last names. On the day of his presentation, René explains that he is as hard working as Abuelo René, who is a farmer, and as creative as his Abuela Amelia, who is a potter. He can tell stories like his Abuelo Julio and enjoys music like his Abuela Angela.

This charming bilingual picture book for children ages 4-8 combines the winning team of author René Colato Laínez and illustrator Fabiola Graullera Ramírez, and follows their award-winning collaboration, I Am René, the Boy / Soy René, el niño. With whimsical illustrations and entertaining text, this sequel is sure to please fans and gain many new ones while explaining an important Hispanic cultural tradition.

René Colato Laínez came to the United States from El Salvador as a teen, and he writes about his experiences in children’s books such as Waiting for Papá / Esperando a Papá (Piñata Books, 2004) and I Am René, the Boy / Soy René, el niño (Piñata Books, 2005), which received Special Recognition in the 2006 Paterson Prize for Books for Young People. His book, Playing Lotería / El juego de la lotería (Luna Rising, 2005), was a finalist in the 2007-2008 Tejas Star Book Award, was named to Críticas magazine’s “Best Children’s Books” of 2005 and received the 2008 New Mexico Book Award for Best Children’s Book. René is a graduate of the Vermont College MFA program in Writing for Children & Young Adults and a bilingual elementary teacher at Fernangeles Elementary School in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Fabiola Graullera Ramírez, a native of Mexico City, graduated from UNAM’s National School of Fine Arts with a degree in Graphic Communication. Her work has been part of collective exhibits in Mexico and Spain. She has illustrated many picture books, including I Am René, the Boy / Soy René, el niño (Piñata Books, 2005).

Baseball on Mars/ Béisbol en Marte
Rafael Rivera, Jr and Tim Hoppey, Illustrations by Christina Rodriguez, Spanish Translation by Gabriela Baeza Ventura, October

Roberto’s dad speaks in Spanish when he gets upset, and boy, is he unhappy today! His lucky chair—the one he sits in to watch his beloved New York Yankees play—is missing. And he needs it for the afternoon game against the Red Sox!

Roberto is excited, too. He’s about to take off to Mars on his home-made rocket ship, and his dad’s lucky chair makes a perfect pilot’s seat. When his father finds that the missing chair has become part of the rocket ship in the backyard, he grudgingly tells Roberto he can use it—for now. But it needs to be returned before game time.

Roberto’s dad is skeptical about the rocket ship. “You might have a problem getting off the ground,” he says. “You’re forgetting one little thing—you don’t have an engine!” Soon, he finds himself invited along as co-pilot. And during the exciting flight to Mars, Roberto helps his father rediscover his imagination as they experience an amazing blastoff, wayward asteroids, and even weightlessness.

When they finally land, Roberto surprises his father with two baseball gloves and a ball. “Today’s baseball game is on Mars,” he tells his dad. After spending the day playing catch, father and son realize that they speak the same language on the Red Planet. And his dad doesn’t even mind that he missed the Yankees’ game!

Children ages 4-8 will want to embark on their own mission to Mars after reading this story that combines vibrant illustrations with a touching story about a father and son’s afternoon adventure.

Rafael Rivera, Jr. was born and raised in the Bronx, the setting for this story. He is a New York City firefighter stationed in Spanish Harlem. He has two young daughters with whom he hopes to build rocket ships. He is a lifelong New York Yankees fan, but does not have a lucky chair to sit in.

Tim Hoppey is a New York City firefighter stationed in Spanish Harlem. He is the author of a bilingual picture book, Tito, the Firefighter / Tito, el bombero (Raven Tree Press, 2005). He lives on Long Island with his wife and three children.

Christina Rodriguez received her BFA in Illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2003 and presently works as a freelance illustrator and designer. She has illustrated many children’s books, including Mayté and the Bogeyman / Mayté y el Cuco (Piñata Books, 2006), Un día con mis tías / A Day with My Aunts (Piñata Books, 2006), and Storm Codes (Windward Publishing, 2007).


Thanks to RudyG for filling in the past couple of weeks.

Read and lead.