SAN MARCOS – The books Bright Star, written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales, My Two Border Towns, written by David Bowles and illustrated by Erika Meza, and Indivisible, by Daniel Aleman, have been named the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award recipients for works published in 2020-2021.
Bright Star and My Two Border Towns were honored in the “Works for Younger Readers” category. Indivisible was honored in the “Works for Older Readers” category.
The awards will be presented at Texas State on Nov. 3, with a panel discussion scheduled in cooperation with the Texas Book Festival on Nov. 5.
The award, established at Texas State in 1995, is designed to encourage authors, illustrators and publishers to produce books that authentically reflect the lives of Mexican American children and young adults in the United States. The Rivera Award also promotes literacy by promoting high quality children’s and young adult literature, in addition to encouraging authors to write about the Mexican American experience.
Told with a combination of powerful, spare language and sumptuous and complex imagery that is typical of Morales’s work, Bright Star is the story of a fawn making her way through a border landscape teaming with flora and fauna native to the region. A gentle but empowering voice encourages her to face her fears when she comes across an obstacle in the form of an insurmountable barrier. It is a book with resonance for all children, especially those whose safety is threatened due to the national immigration crisis.
Morales, a past recipient of the Tomás Rivera Book Award, was born in Xalapa, Mexico, where she currently resides, and lived for many years in the San Francisco Bay Area. Professional storyteller, dancer, choreographer, puppeteer and artist, she has won the prestigious Pura Belpré Award for Illustration six times. Her books include Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book (2003), Los Gatos Black on Halloween (2006), Just in Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book (2008), Niño Wrestles the World (2013), Viva Frida (2014) and Dreamers (2019).
My Two Border Towns
My Two Border Towns is a picture book depicting a boy’s life on the U.S.-Mexico border. Early one Saturday morning, the boy prepares for a trip to The Other Side/El Otro Lado. It’s close — just down the street from his school — and it’s a twin of where he lives. Their outings always include a meal at their favorite restaurant, a visit with Tío Mateo at his jewelry store, a cold treat from the paletero and a pharmacy pickup. On their final and most important stop, they check in with friends seeking asylum and drop off much-needed supplies.
A Mexican-American author from deep South Texas, Bowles is an assistant professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Recipient of awards from the American Library Association, Texas Institute of Letters and Texas Associated Press, he has written several titles, including the Pura Belpré Honor Book The Smoking Mirror and Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky: Myths of Mexico. His book of middle-grade verse, They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid’s Poems, received a Pura Belpré Author Honor Award, a Walter Honor Award, the Tomás Rivera Award and won the Claudia Lewis Award for Excellence in Poetry from the Bank Street College of Education.
Meza was born in Mexico, fell in love with animation on the border with California and developed a taste for eclairs in Paris before moving to the United Kingdom. As an adoptive Tijuanense, she took her first steps to find her visual voice at the border-forever fueled by tacos and birria. When Erika isn’t drawing, she’ll be found drinking coffee, tweeting or plotting ways to bring her cat traveling with her.
Mateo Garcia and his younger sister, Sophie, have been taught to fear one word for as long as they can remember: deportation. Over the past few years, however, the fear that their undocumented immigrant parents could be sent back to Mexico started to fade. Ma and Pa have been in the United States for so long, they have American-born children, and they’re hard workers and good neighbors. When Mateo returns from school one day to find that his parents have been taken by ICE, he realizes that his family’s worst nightmare has become a reality. With his parents’ fate and his own future hanging in the balance, Mateo must figure out who he is and what he is capable of, even as he’s forced to question what it means to be an American.
Aleman was born and raised in Mexico City. A graduate of McGill University, he is passionate about books, coffee and dogs. After spending time in Montreal and the New York City area, he now lives in Toronto, where he is on a never-ending search for the best tacos in the city. Indivisible is his debut novel.
About the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award
The Tomás Rivera Award at Texas State celebrates authors and illustrators dedicated to depicting the values and culture of Mexican Americans. Rivera, who died in 1984, graduated from Texas State with both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees before receiving a Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma. A Distinguished Alumnus of Texas State, Rivera published his landmark novel in 1971 titled …y no se lo tragó la tierra/ …And the Earth Did Not Part. In 1979, Rivera was appointed chancellor of the University of California-Riverside, the first Hispanic chancellor named to the University of California System.
For more information on the Rivera Award, visit the Rivera Award website at www.education.txstate.edu/ci/riverabookaward.