HOUSTON, TX—The Bank Street College of Education Children’s Book Committee named three Piñata Books to its Best Children’s Books of the Year in Spanish list for 2023. El cumpleaños de mi hermana Dulce / My Sister Dulce’s Birthday by Erika Said, El niño de maíz / The Boy of Maize by Mario Bencastro and Viento, Vientito / Wind, Little Wind by Jorge Argueta were all recognized, and Bencastro’s book was highlighted with a star as an exceptional book for cultural authenticity in text and artwork, among other characteristics.
In El cumpleaños de mi hermana Dulce / My Sister Dulce’s Birthday, Erika Said tells the story of six-year-old Dulce, who loves sweets. Vibrant illustrations by Claudia Navarro show Dulce and her sister as they search for the perfect candies to go inside the traditional Mexican birthday piñata. Midwest Book Review called it “a charmingly entertaining bilingual (Spanish/English) picture book” and “an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school and community library collections.”
ERIKA SAID is the author of iPoems: Poemas en Shuffle (El Humo, Querétaro, 2013) and co-author of Fuego del Aire (Media Isla, 2015). Her work has been published in Mexican and US magazines such as Revista de Literatura Mexicana Contemporánea and Círculo de Poesía. Her writing has been anthologized in numerous books, including Lados B (Nitro Press, 2018), Viejas Brujas II (Aquelarré Editoras, México DF, 2017), Along the River II (VAO, McAllen, 2012) and El infierno es una caricia (Fidaura, Mexico DF, 2011).
Mario Bencastro’s El niño de maíz / The Boy of Maize captures the essence of nature while telling the mythical story that unites Central American countries around the importance of corn. Characters including Balám, “the Mayan boy born from a plant of maize,” and the “bird with silky and brilliant feathers” come to life for the reader through Christina Rodriguez’s gorgeous illustrations.
MARIO BENCASTRO is the author of numerous award-winning books, including a bilingual picture book, Un tren llamado Esperanza / A Train Called Hope (Piñata Books, 2021), and a novel for teens in English and Spanish: A Promise to Keep (Piñata Books, 2005) and Viaje a la tierra del abuelo (Piñata Books, 2004). Bencastro lives and works in Florida.
Viento, Vientito / Wind, Little Wind is the third book in Jorge Argueta’s four-part series about Mother Earth, and reflects the author’s indigenous roots and appreciation for the natural world. Written from the perspective of a mischievous youngster in English, Spanish and Nahuat, the book is beautifully illustrated by Felipe Ugalde Alcántara. It is the winner of the Academia Norteamericana de la Lengua Española’s (ANLE) 2022 Premio Campoy-Ada in the Children’s Fantasy-Fiction Picture Book Category.
JORGE ARGUETA, a Pipil Nahua Indian from El Salvador and the 2023 Poet Laureate of San Mateo County, is a prize-winning poet and author of more than twenty children’s picture books. His Madre Tierra / Mother Earth series celebrates the natural world and is made up of four installments: Tierra, Tierrita / Earth, Little Earth (Piñata Books, 2023), winner of the Salinas de Alba Award for Latino Children’s Literature; Viento, Vientito / Wind, Little Wind (Piñata Books, 2022); Fuego, Fueguito / Fire, Little Fire (Piñata Books, 2019); and Agua, Agüita / Water, Little Water (Piñata Books, 2017), winner of the inaugural Campoy-Ada Award in Children’s Poetry.
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. For more information, please visit www.artepublicopress.com.