Four books published as part of Arte Público’s imprint for children and young adults, Piñata Books, were chosen for the 2016-17 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.
The four Piñata Books selected for inclusion on the list are: The Donkey Lady Fights La Llorona and Other Stories / La señora Asno se enfrenta a la Llorona y otros cuentos by Xavier Garza; Francisco’s Kites / Las cometas de Francisco written by Alicia Z. Klepeis and illustrated by Gary Undercuffler; The Remembering Day / El día de los muertos by Pat Mora with illustrations by Robert Casilla; and Sofi and the Magic, Musical Mural / Sofi y el mágico mural musical by Raquel Ortiz and illustrated by Maria Dominguez.
Popular storyteller Xavier Garza returns with another collection of eerie tales full of creepy creatures from Latin American lore in The Donkey Lady Fights La Llorona and Other Stories / La señora Asno se enfrenta a la Llorona y otros cuentos. Set in contemporary times, Garza’s young protagonists deal with much more than just the supernatural: there are chupacabras and drug dealers, witches and bullies, a jealous cousin and the devil. Kirkus Reviews calls the bilingual stories “deliciously short but spooky.”
In Francisco’s Kites / Las cometas de Francisco, Francisco wants to fly a kite near his new home in the U.S., but his mother can’t afford one. So he decides to make one himself by finding used items, which later leads to an unexpected opportunity. According to Kirkus Reviews, “Francisco’s transformation from pensive newcomer to entrepreneurial kite master is inspiring and well-detailed in this successful slice of life.”
In The Remembering Day / El día de los muertos, acclaimed author Pat Mora creates an origin myth in which she imagines how the Mexican custom of remembering deceased loved ones—El día de los muertos or the Day of the Dead—came to be. With tender illustrations by Robert Casilla, this book will encourage children to honor loved ones. Publishers Weekly says Casilla’s “softly glowing portraits of grandmother and grandchild speak to the holiday’s quieter and more contemplative aspects.”
With lovingly rendered, colorful illustrations, Sofi and the Magic, Musical Mural / Sofi y el mágico mural musical tells the story of an imaginative girl’s delightful adventure. One day on her way home from the bodega, Sofi stops in front of the mural in her urban neighborhood. Suddenly she’s in Old San Juan, surrounded by dancers and musicians playing bongos, tambourines and güiros. According to Foreword Reviews, “magical realism merges with celebration of family heritage in this story of a Puerto Rican girl who seems to enter a large mural painted on a wall across the street from her home.”
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. For more information, please visit WWW.ARTEPUBLICOPRESS.COM.