HOUSTON, TX June 2017— René Saldaña, Jr.’s bilingual “flip” book for intermediate readers, A Mystery Bigger than Big / Un misterio más grande que grandísimo, was selected for inclusion in the 2017-2018 Tejas Star Reading List. The Tejas Star Reading List (TSRL) is developed to encourage children ages 5-12 to explore multicultural books and to discover the cognitive and economic benefits of bilingualism and multilingualism. Sponsored by the Texas Library Association, the TSRL is intended for recreational reading and not to support a specific curriculum. The program began as the Tejas Star Book Award, created by the Region One ESC Library Advisory Committee. The Texas Library Association assumed responsibility for the list in 2012.
In the fourth installment of the bilingual Mickey Rangel Mystery series, acclaimed author René Saldaña, Jr. writes a thought-provoking novel for young people that explores the contemporary issue of immigration from a kid’s perspective. Rumors are flying about Natalia, the new girl in school. She’s so quiet that everyone is sure she’s hiding something. Was her father a drug lord in Mexico, killed by rival gangs? Or were her parents Russian spies, caught doing what spies do? Maybe she’s the sole survivor of a plane crash?!?
Mickey Rangel, fifth-grade detective extraordinaire, knows all of the stories going around are bogus. But when his arch rival, Bucho, challenges him for the answer, Mickey vows to crack the case of the new girl. He’ll prove once and for all that he’s the real deal, a private detective!
Natalia is peculiar. She’s very skinny, and eats her lunch so quickly that Mickey wonders if she got something more appetizing than he did. She never talks, and her shoes and clothing are worn and shabby. But his efforts to discover the girl’s secret come up empty, until he overhears a conversation. Is Natalia really one of those undocumented children he has heard about on the news? Did she really travel all the way from Guatemala by herself? Why would she leave her family? And why would her parents let her go?
Author and educator René Saldaña, Jr. effectively shows intermediate readers that the issue of immigration isn’t always black and white. And in this case, Mickey learns some hard truths about being a detective and a good person, ultimately realizing that some mysteries are best left unsolved.
RENÉ SALDAÑA, JR. is the author of three books in the Mickey Rangel Mystery series: The Mystery of the Mischievous Marker / El misterio del malvado marcador (Piñata Books, 2013), The Lemon Tree Caper / La intriga del limonero (Piñata Books, 2011) and The Case of the Pen Gone Missing / El caso de la pluma perdida (Piñata Books, 2009). His books for teens include A Good Long Way (Piñata Books, 2010), The Whole Sky Full of Stars (Random House, 2007) and The Jumping Tree (Delacorte, 2001). He lives in Lubbock, Texas, where he teaches in the College of Education at Texas Tech University.
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 realistic and authentic portrayal of the themes, languages, characters and customs of Hispanic culture in the United States. 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 Hispanic literary arts and creativity. For more information, please visit www.artepublicopress.com.