Four Piñata Books for Kids Chosen for Tejas Star Reading List
HOUSTON, TX February 2015—Four books published as part of Arte Público’s imprint for children and young adults, Piñata Books, were chosen for the 2015-16 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.
Texas schoolchildren will read the books on the list and vote for their favorite one. The four Piñata Books selected for consideration are: Dale, dale, dale: Una fiesta de números / Hit It, Hit It, Hit It: A Fiesta of Numbers by René Saldaña, Jr. with illustrations by Carolyn Dee Flores; Dalia’s Wondrous Hair / El cabello maravilloso de Dalia written and illustrated by Laura Lacámara; Estas manos: Manitas de mi familia / These Hands: My Family’s Hands by Samuel Caraballo with illustrations by Shawn Costello; and Letters from Heaven / Cartas del cielo by Lydia Gil.
“Today is my birthday, and I am so excited. / One piñata filled with candy. / Two hours until the party. / Three tables set for all of the guests.” Mateo counts to twelve as he anticipates the fun he’ll have at his party in Dale, Dale Dale: Una fiesta de números / Hit It, Hit It, Hit It: A Fiesta of Numbers. Kirkus Reviews calls it “a contemporary and festive Latino birthday celebration.”
Dalia’s Wondrous Hair / El cabello maravilloso de Dalia tells the story of a girl’s fanciful encounters with nature. One night, while Dalia slept safely wrapped in her mother’s cool silken sheets, her hair grew and grew. By the time the rooster crowed, her hair had “grown straight up to the sky, tall and thick as a Cuban royal palm tree.” Her mother was amazed, and wondered what her daughter would do with her wondrous hair. As Dalia looked at the flowers blooming in the garden, an idea sprouted inside her. According to School Library Journal, “Lacámara’s rich and colorful artwork beautifully complement the imaginative text.”
In Estas Manos: Manitas de mi familia / These Hands: My Family’s Hands, 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. Her father’s hands are strong like the mahogany tree; her siblings’ friendly like the blooming oak tree. Midwest Book Review says the “sweeping color illustrations reflect the enduring beauty of family togetherness in this wonderful read-aloud picture book.”
A warm story of family and friendship, Letters from Heaven / Cartas del cielo celebrates Latino traditions, especially those of the Spanish Caribbean. Celeste is heartbroken when her grandmother dies. But everything changes when a letter mysteriously comes in the mail—from Grandma! As letters continue to arrive from the beyond, each with a recipe of a favorite food her grandmother used to prepare, Celeste consoles herself by learning how to cook the dishes. According to Kirkus Reviews, it is “a tender depiction of a child’s acceptance of the death of a beloved grandmother and the cultural importance of traditional foods.”
Arte Público Press is the nation’s largest and most established publisher of contemporary and recovered literature by U.S. 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 U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage project provide the most widely recognized and extensive showcase for Hispanic literary arts and creativity.