HOUSTON, TX— Jasminne Mendez’s new picture book, Josefina’s Habichuelas / Las habichuelas de Josefina (ISBN 978-1-55885-923-4, hardcover, $18.95), has been awarded the Writers’ League of Texas 2022 Discovery Prize. Established in 1991, the Writers’ League of Texas Book Awards recognize the year’s outstanding books published by Texas authors. The Discovery Prize honors books with fresh perspectives and outstanding narratives to bring recognition to new voices.
Young Josefina loves sweets and eats plenty of cookies, cupcakes and candy, until one day her mother suggests they refrain from eating sugar for 40 days and 40 nights in preparation for Easter Sunday. In exchange, her mom promises to teach her how to make habichuelas con dulce, or sweet cream beans, her family’s traditional dessert. Josefina reluctantly agrees, and struggles to keep her promise while her friends continue to eat their favorite sweets at school. When she and her mom, tías and abuela finally begin to prepare the dish, they dance to merengue music and tell stories about life back in the Dominican Republic. The kitchen fills with the aromatic smells of cinnamon and sugar, but it’s the feelings of love and happiness Josefina will never forget. On Easter Sunday, when the family eats the special dessert she prepared, the girl’s grandmother proclaims, “It’s the best pot of habichuelas con dulce I’ve tasted in my life!”
Josefina’s Habichuelas has been widely praised. School Library Journal called it “a wonderful choice for picture book collections that focus on traditions, family and dedication to one’s goals,” and Kirkus Reviews said, “De Vita’s cozy pictures provide plenty of ideal images of family, with a diverse range of skin tones from light brown to dark brown.”
JASMINNE MENDEZ is a Dominican-American poet, playwright and award-winning writer. She is the author of a memoir for adults, Night-Blooming Jasmin(n)e: Personal Essays and Poetry (Arte Público, 2018), and one for teens, Islands Apart (Arte Público, 2022). Josefina’s Habichuelas / Las habichuelas de Josefina is her first picture book for children. She lives and works in Houston, Texas.
FLOR DE VITA, a native of Veracruz, Mexico, has illustrated two picture books: When Julia Danced Bomba / Cuando Julia bailaba bomba (Piñata Books, 2019) and Just One Itsy Bitsy Little Bite / Sólo una mordidita chiquitita (Piñata Books, 2018). A graduate of the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey with a B.A. in Animation and Digital Art, she currently resides in Jalisco, Mexico.
ARTE PÚBLICO PRESS is the nation’s largest and most established publisher of contemporary and recovered literature by US Hispanic authors. Its imprint for children and young adults, Piñata Books, is dedicated to the authentic portrayal of the themes, languages, characters and customs of Hispanic culture in the United States. Books published under the imprint serve as a bridge from home to school to support family literacy and elementary school education. Based at the University of Houston, Arte Público Press, Piñata Books and the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage project provide the most widely recognized and extensive showcase for Latino literary arts and creativity.