The Stars are Big, Bright and Bilingual in Tejas!

Three Piñata Books for Kids Chosen for Tejas Star Reading List

HOUSTON, TX January 2014—Three books published as part of Arte Público’s imprint for children and young adults, Piñata Books, were chosen for the 2014-15 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 school children will read the books on the list and vote for their favorite one. The three Piñata Books selected for consideration are: Canta, rana, canta / Sing, Froggie, Sing with illustrations by Carolyn Dee Flores; Lupita’s First Dance / El primer baile de Lupita by Lupe Ruiz-Flores with illustrations by Gabhor Utomo; and The Missing Chancleta and Other Top-Secret Cases / La chancleta perdida y otros casos secretos by Alidis Vicente.

In Lupita’s First Dance / El primer baile de Lupita, a bilingual picture book for children ages 4-8, Lupita is excited about dancing la raspa, a Mexican folk dance, with her first-grade class. She is devastated, however, when she learns right before the show that her partner Ernesto sprained his right ankle. Lupita sadly watches the other dancers from backstage, but suddenly, she finds herself on stage, dancing the routine she knows so well and holding her arms out to an imaginary partner. As the audience starts to laugh, the sight of her mother encourages Lupita to go on and she becomes the star of the show—at least in the eyes of her proud teacher and parents. Kirkus Reviews says, “The positive portrayal of a young girl brave enough to take a risk is noteworthy.”

Based on a traditional folksong that has been sung by parents and children in Spanish-speaking countries for generations, Canta, rana, canta / Sing, Froggie, Sing is a charming tale in which a “frog was sitting under the water, when she decided to croak out loud.” With animals, people, and music whimsically depicted by illustrator Carolyn Dee Flores, this book will inspire a new generation to discover a unique cultural tradition. Mamiverse says “both [children and adults] will find this retelling of a traditional folk song—which features different animals and humans being told to “hush” as each attempts to sing—a deeply satisfying read.”

 Flaca, or Dective Flaca as she likes to be called, shares three of her top-secret cases in this bilingual “flip” book, The Missing Chancleta and Other Top-Secret Cases / La chancleta perdida y otros casos secretos. When Flaca’s chancleta, or flip flop, goes missing, she investigates the theft by interviewing each of her family members, all of whom are suspects. Oddly their stories check out, so Flaca will have to dig deeper to find the culprit. In “The Case of the Missing China,” Flaca discovers small pieces of china—or oranges for those who are of Puerto Rican descent—in a fruit cup included in her lunch. Since she’s allergic to oranges, she immediately suspects someone is trying to hurt her. But who could it be? In “The Case of the Missing Salsa,” Flaca is dismayed to learn she will have to dance salsa at her older sister’s quinceañera. To make matters worse, Flaca discovers her “salsa” is missing as she starts dance lessons. Readers will have fun joining her as she uses her detective skills to locate her lost dance abilities, which she discovers can’t be found with a paper and pencil. “Short and sweet, this book is a good choice…chuckle-inducing fun,” writes Kirkus Reviews.

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.