Young Adult Novel with the Right Ingredients Wins Skipping Stones Honor Award

HOUSTON, TX— An intriguing coming-of-age novel for teens, Reservations Required by Estela Bernal, is the recipient of a 2022 Skipping Stones Honor Award. The book follows seventeen-year-old Lucy Sánchez as she overcomes numerous obstacles to achieve her dream of becoming a chef.

Skipping Stones: An International Multicultural Magazine, an award-winning resource in multicultural and global education, publishes art and original writings in every language and from all ages. The winners of the annual book awards promote an understanding of cultures, cultivate cooperation and encourage a deeper awareness of nature, ecology and diversity.

In Reservations Required (Piñata Books, 2021), Bernal depicts Lucy’s journey as her world is turned upside down when her grandmother dies. Nana was instrumental in teaching her how to cook and encouraging her dream to become a chef. More importantly, her kitchen was a haven from the dysfunction at home. When Lucy becomes the target of her father’s physical abuse, she is forced to escape sooner than she’d planned. “I’m going to be a chef,” she keeps telling herself while on a bus headed to Los Angeles. Her life changes forever, though, when she sees a help-wanted sign in a restaurant window and impulsively gets off the bus in a small Arizona town. As Lucy aspires to move from dishwasher to chef, she must deal with coworkers who are jealous of her rising culinary talent. Bernal explores Lucy’s resilience to the obstacles placed in her life as she grapples with trauma, loss and the trials of growing up.

Reservations Required has been praised by reviewers. Kirkus Reviews said, “In this tale of resilience and recovery, Bernal keeps the pacing tight and brisk, mapping out Lucy’s arc from scared adolescent to triumphant yet cautious chef-in-progress. A well-rounded feast for the heart.”

Estela Bernal, the author of the teen novel Can You See Me Now?, was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley, the southernmost part of Texas. Now based in Portland, Oregon, she dedicates most of her time to writing about universal themes and multicultural characters that readers of all backgrounds can relate to. She is a former teacher, social worker, civil servant, and military veteran. Her goal is to inspire children to read and, in the process, fall in love with books and learning.

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.

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