Love in the Time of Covid: New Award Honors Picture Book about Family, Technology and the Pandemic

HOUSTON, TX—A bilingual picture book that explores intergenerational family relationships, technology and Covid, Abuela y covid / Grandma and Covid by Airy Sindik (ISBN 978-1-55885-955-5, hardcover, $18.95), is the winner of the inaugural REYES-OLIVAS AWARD FOR BEST FIRST BOOK OF LATINO CHILDREN’S AND YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE. The award was presented to Sindik at Arte Público Press’ 40th anniversary celebration on Thursday, September 15, 2022.

THE REYES-OLIVAS AWARD FOR BEST FIRST BOOK OF LATINO CHILDREN’S AND YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE seeks to stimulate the work begun by Arte Público Press and its imprint, Piñata Books, which is dedicated to the publication of children’s and young adult literature that realistically portrays themes, characters and customs unique to US Hispanic culture. In addition to the publication of the book and royalties from sales, Sindik received a $5,000 prize. Funding for the award was provided by long-time Arte Público Press supporters and University of Houston professors Dr. Augustina “Tina” Reyes and her recently deceased husband, Dr. Michael Olivas.

In the book, a young boy’s grandmother lives far away, but they keep in touch using cell phones and other devices. She calls him every day, but one day he doesn’t hear from her. The next time they talk, she is wearing a mask that covers her nose and mouth. A few days later on their video call, she wears a mask with a tube attached. Then she stops calling altogether, and the boy is worried. Will he need to go rescue her? This bilingual picture book for children ages 4-8 explores contemporary society’s reliance on cellular and digital devices in communicating with friends and family. Airy Sindik’s moving story, combined with Tony De Luz’s warm illustrations, also portrays the very serious issue of the Covid virus and its impact on loved ones, all seen through the eyes of an imaginative boy.

AIRY SINDIK, the author of Sin aire para el regreso. Novela de la primera intifada de la primavera árabe (UdeG, 2018), oversees Entre Autores, a forum for new authors at the Guadalajara International Book Fair, and Poiesis/Diáspora, a cultural and creative consultancy. He has taught communication at ITESO, the Universidad Jesuita de Guadalajara, since 2011 and is currently a Ph.D. student in the Creative Writing Program in Spanish at the University of Houston.

TONY DE LUZ was raised in Boston’s inner-city neighborhoods and has worked as a watercolor artist, commercial illustrator, graphic designer, business owner and teacher. He lives and works in Camp Verde, Arizona.

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.