Book Award: The Tomás Rivera Book Award

The Tomás Rivera Mexican American Book Award was developed by the Texas State University’s College of Education to honor authors and illustrators who create literature that depicts the Mexican American experience. Tomás Rivera, arivera native of Crystal City, Texas, is the first Mexican American to have been selected Distinguished Alumnus at Texas State University–San Marcos. He is known as the Dean of Mexican American Literature.

The award is given each year to the authors and illustrators of outstanding children’s and young adult literature that most authentically reflects Mexican Americans in the United States.

Past winners include Guadalupe Garcia McCall’s Under the Mesquite, Sylvia and Aki by  Winifred Conkling, Diego Rivera His World and Ours by Duncan Tonatiuh and What Can You Do with a Paleta by Carmen Tafolla. The first winners of the award in 1996 were Chatos Kitchen by Gary Soto and Farolito’s Christmas by Rudolfo Anaya.

Nominations must be submitted by 1 November and winners are announced on 15 February.

Criteria for the award are

  • The book will be written for children and young adults (0-16 years).
  • The text and illustrations will be of highest quality.
  • The portrayal/representations of Mexican Americans will be accurate and engaging, avoid stereotypes, and reflect rich characterization.
  • The book may be fiction or non- fiction.

Male Monday: Juan Felipe Herrara

I am merely posing for a photograph.juan_felipe_herrera_163x249.
Remember, when the Nomenclature
stops you, tell them that—“Sirs, he was posing
for my camera, that is all.” . . . yes, that may just work.
Poet. Artist. Teacher. Activist. Writer. Poet Laureate of California.
“Your friends, and your associates, and the people around you, and the environment that you live in, and the speakers around you – the speakers around you – and the communicators around you, are the poetry makers.
If your mother tells you stories, she is a poetry maker.
If your father says stories, he is a poetry maker.
If your grandma tells you stories, she is a poetry maker.
And that’s who forms our poetics.”
~Juan Felipe Herrara


Today was my last day at the garden. It had to be cleared out before the end of the month, so I went over to pull everything out and thus end my growing season. I was once again gifted with little surprises. A few remaining red and green tomatoes, broccoli and  tender sprouts that grow from where I removed that large cabbage head earlier in the season.

first garden pik

The garden was just beginning!

The cucumber died out a while ago. They were my first reliable crop, so sweet, juicy and crisp. After tasting how much flavor they had, I realized why I hadn’t previously been fond of the vegetable: they’d had no flavor. My bell peppers didn’t do anything for months, but I left them in the ground to be surprised with a bumper crop of peppers in the past few weeks. I learned this year that turnips greens have been genetically modified so that turnip bottoms grow on separate plants. So, I was quite happy to find the baby turnips when I pulled the turnip greens (tops) from the ground.

I left the sage, basil, catnip and marigolds. They were worker plants and will thrive a bit long.

I’ve learned a lot from all these different plants. Sometimes it was just about the plants and sometimes it transferred to what I can know about people.

last garden pic

The garden today

I’ve learned a lot from the planters, too. The older, retired white Americans, my African American colleagues, the Filipinos, Ghanaians and Kenyans have all shared their harvest, their wisdom and their love of gardening. I started out gardening with my sister and loved the days when we would reminisce about my mom’s and grandmother’s gardens.  The drive over got to be more than we realized it would be, but I kept on, probably surprising both of us.  I’ve blogged and FBed about this garden way more than I ever thought I would. I think it filled a social, spiritual and creative gap for me. I’ll miss it, but life goes on.

So, I began my morning planning my day, my week and thinking of all the committee work I have in front of me, the growing pile of books I have growing for BFYA and the articles I need to write for tenure. My phone rang and all this seemed rather pointless.

Chance's Graduation

My son and DIL

My son’s brother in law passed away last night. Kyle was in his mid 20s and because he suffered with cystic fibrosis, spent much of his life in a care facility. I have to confess I really didn’t know Kyle so, I’m really not sure why I’ve wilted into a puddle today. Perhaps it’s knowing my son and daughter-in-law are in pain and there is nothing I can do for them. It could be because I can relate to the horror my son’s MIL is going through having now lost her child, or maybe it’s just anger at the American health care system.

Kyle stayed at home as long has his physical needs could be met. Once he needed more care and equipment than could be available there, he was moved and that’s when his nightmares began. There have been broken bones, infections and so many other instances of what I’m going to call neglect. Clothing items, toys and trinkets bought for him often disappeared. They were “lost in the wash”. Now, this is one child with a ferocious mother. This is one child, one human child abused in care facilities right here in the US. There are certainly others all of whom are voiceless.

Who speaks for the mentally and physically challenged?  They’re not in YA fiction or children’s picture books, not on CNN, not in Starbucks commercials and not in Steven Spielberg’s latest movie. My, god, who would want to see about that? The thing is, we all have people with special needs in our families!

We do hear about the tremendous blessings felt by those who love and care for the less abled, but we never hear about the challenges they face finding or affording care or the abuse they face at the hands of their providers. Silly me, I thought people who worked with those who are disabled did it because of a special calling.

I would like to hope Obamacare with alleviate some of this, that it will get prenatal care to women so that many debilitating illnesses can be cured in vitro and so that better long term care can be there for those in need. I want to hope.

Kyle is gone. Kyle was a special one here in this garden of humanity. The sun shined on his smile. Some of the crap thrown on him was fertilizer, too much of it wasn’t. The best part of him lives in full bloom.

Celebrate Latino Children’s Literature and Literacy

Celebrate Latino Children’s Literature & Literacy at the National Latino Children’s Literature Conference in March 13-14, 2014. For more information.

I received the following information in an email today. Do think about proposing a presentation for this conference and share this information with others you know who may be interested in presenting as well.

The University of Alabama School of Library and Information Studies is pleased to announce the 2014 National Latino Children’s Literature Conference to be held in Tuscaloosa, AL on March 13-14, 2014. This exclusive conference was created for the purpose of promoting high-quality children’s and young adult books about the Latino cultures and to offer a forum for librarians, educators, researchers, and students to openly discuss strategies for meeting the informational, educational, and literacy needs of Latino youth (children and teens) and their families. Featuring nationally-acclaimed Latino literacy scholars and award-winning Latino authors and illustrators of children’s and young adult books, this exclusive conference is truly an unforgettable experience.
Request for Proposals: In keeping with the recurring conference theme “Connecting Cultures & Celebrating Cuentos,” we invite poster and program proposals that contribute to and extend existing knowledge in the following areas: Latino children’s and young adult literature, bilingual education, Latino family involvement in the school curriculum, Latino cultural literacy, library services to Latino children and their families, literacy programs utilizing Latino children’s literature, educational needs of Latino children, educational opportunities and collaborations with El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day), Latino children’s responses to culturally-responsive literature, social influences of children’s media on Latino youth, Noche de Cuentos literacy programs in schools and libraries, creating cross-cultural connections with Latino children’s literature, and other related topics. Presentations and posters can share recent research or provide practical suggestions for current or preservice librarians and educators. The National Latino Children’s Literature Conference is both a research and practitioner conference and proposals are peer reviewed.
Program Proposals: Programs can be a presentation of research  or  practical suggestions for teachers, librarians, and other educators. To submit your program proposal, please provide the following information:  a 250 word (maximum) abstract of your presentation along with the program title;  the name of the program organizer; the names of all presenters and their affiliations along with their preferred contact phone, email, and address; and your preferred presentation day (Thursday, Friday, or Either) to conference chair Dr. Jamie Campbell Naidoo at Please be sure to put “program proposal” in your subject heading.
Poster Proposals: Posters can be a presentation of research  or  practical suggestions for teachers, librarians, and other educators. To submit your poster proposal, please provide the following information:  the title of your poster; a 200 word (maximum) abstract of your poster; the subject of your poster (choose Literature/Media Studies, Programs & Services in Libraries, Educational & Literacy Strategies, or Exemplary Programs); your name and affiliation; your preferred contact phone, email, and address; and your preferred presentation day (Thursday, Friday, or Either) to conference chair Dr. Jamie Campbell Naidoo at Please be sure to put “poster proposal” in your subject heading. Easels will be provided for posters and additional information about poster size will be provided with the acceptance letters.
The deadline for proposal submissions is midnight December 9, 2013  with notification of acceptance on or before December 18, 2013.


Oscar Jerome Hijuelos (August 24, 1951 – October 12, 2013)


“Instead, Mr. Hijuelos chose to build panoramic tales around the messy lives of his characters, with vivid depictions of romance and sorrow and the mood of the times.” The Washington Post

I was stunned yesterday to hear of the passing of Oscar Hijuelos. I knew him through Dark Dude.

In Wisconsin, Rico could blend in. His light hair and lighter skin wouldn’t make him the “dark dude” or the punching bag for the whole neighborhood. The Midwest is the land of milk and honey, but for Rico Fuentes, it’s really a last resort. Trading Harlem for Wisconsin, though, means giving up on a big part of his identity. And when Rico no longer has to prove that he’s Latino, he almost stops being one. Except he can never have an ordinary white kid’s life, because there are some things that can’t be left behind, that can’t be cut loose or forgotten. These are the things that will be with you forever…. These are the things that will follow you a thousand miles away. (Amazon.)Visit their page to read or listen to an exerpt.)

Hijuelos was an internationally know Pulizter Prize winning Cuban American author. He was the first Latino to win the award for his 1989 novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. Needless to say, his book opened doors.

Unlike that of many well-known Latin writers, his work was rarely outwardly political, focusing instead on the conundrums of assimilation. And rather than employing a syncopated musicality or fantastical flights of magic realism, Mr. Hijuelos wrote fluid prose, sonorous but more earthy than poetic, with a forthright American cadence. (The New York Times)

While obituaries on CNN, BBC, Chicago Post….. my favorite is on PBS.

Woulda Shoulda Coulda and Courageously So!

‘The brave may not live forever, but the cautious don’t live at all.’

– Ashley L.
I’ve had thoughts lately about what I shoulda and what I coulda done.
I have a fantastic plan to distribute books to high schools in IN once BFYA is done, but I shoulda sent them out during the year so that I coulda gotten feedback from teen readers regarding the books. The teens would have known that their opinion matters and they would have been excited about reading these brand new books.
I woulda started a new meme a few weeks ago, something to make it easier to get to the blog and get something posted, but I’ve been too distracted! I simply want to post polls every now and them, sometimes serious, sometimes not. I follow @fakelibrarystats on Twitter and can’t help but think that generating my own numbers can’t be any worse than that, and sometimes perhaps more fun! I do plan to start do a poll every week or so. Plan to join in the action!
I really coulda started a weekly post based upon my word for the year way back in January when I chose it. Or, when it chose me! Courage!! I’ve had so many ideas about what I could post today on courage, but then I saw Cindy Pon’s retweet on Twitter and there it was.

Cindy’s forthright support of her friend and her friend’s forthright explanation of who she is. Her friend is Malinda Lo.  Yep, it’s National Coming Out Day. Today is calling us to be courageous and to get rid of those woulda, should, couldas. Be courageous and live life with no regrets.

Struggling Readers and the Common Core

the following information was received in an email.

Struggling Readers and the Common Core
Improving Literacy in Changing Times

An ALA/Booklist webinar from Orca Book Publishers and Saddleback Education

The goal of the Common Core State Standards is to accelerate students’ reading achievement to grade level by the end of 2014, but educators can’t begin to make an impact on young adults who are reading below grade level without rich resources to aid them.

In this hour-long, free webinar, sponsored by Orca Book Publishers and Saddleback Education, an expert panel will offer tips about how to implement the Common Core State Standards with struggling and striving readers in the middle- and high-school classroom.

Date: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 2:00 pm EST

Register here.

KC Boyd is a library media specialist in inner-city Chicago and author of the popular blog The Audacious Librarian.
Troy Fresch is the Assistant Principal at Tustin High School in Tustin, California and has served on the Tustin Unified School District’s Common Core implementation team.
Tim McHugh is the co-owner and VP of Sales/Marketing at Saddleback Educational Publishing.
Andrew Wooldridge is publisher at Orca Books and the editor of several series of successful novels for middle and high school readers.