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Texas State University

Tomás Rivera Children’s Book Award winners announced for 2017

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
Office of Media Relations
April 10, 2018

SAN MARCOS – Three books—All Around Us, The First Rule of Punk and I Am Not Your Prefect Mexican Daughter—have been named the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award recipients for works published in 2016-17.

All Around Us, written by Xelena Gonzalez and illustrated by Adriana M. Garcia, was honored in the "Works for Younger Readers" category. The First Rule of Punk, by Celia C. Pérez, was honored in the "Works for Older Readers: Middle Grade" category. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, by Erika L. Sánchez, was honored in the "Works for Older Readers: Young Adult" category.

The awards will be presented this fall at Texas State University with additional events scheduled in cooperation with the Texas Book Festival to be announced.

The award, established at Texas State University 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.

All Around Us

All Around Us

In All Around Us, Grandpa and his granddaughter meditate on gardens and seeds, on circles seen and unseen, inside and outside us, on where our bodies come from and where they return to. They share and create family traditions in this stunning exploration of the cycles of life and nature.

Author González has roots in San Antonio, but currently lives in Guangzhou, China, where she works as a librarian in an international school. She studied journalism at Northwestern University and library science at Texas Woman’s University, but her true training as a storyteller has come from getting to know other living beings—including plants, animals, and people who happen to speak different languages or see the world in unusual ways. She tells these stories through picture books, essays, song and dance.

Illustrator Garcia is a Texas-based visual artist, muralist and scenic designer. Garcia was most recently commissioned to create a mural for the San Pedro Creek improvement project in San Antonio. She has been invited to present and speak of her work at national conferences such as National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies (NACCS), and the Roots and Remedies Conference. She has created murals with many community organizations in Texas and has exhibited nationally.

The First Rule of Punk

The First Rule of Punk

A wry and heartfelt exploration of friendship, finding one's place and learning to rock out like no one’s watching, The First Rule of Punk tells the story of 12-year-old Malú, who, on the first day of Posada Middle School, inadvertently upsets the school’s queen bee, violates the school’s dress code with her punk rock look and disappoints her college professor mom in the process. Her dad, who now lives a thousand miles away, tells her things will get better as long as she remembers the first rule of punk: be yourself.

Pérez has been making zines inspired by punk and her love of writing for longer than some of her readers have been alive. Pérez is the daughter of a Mexican mother and a Cuban father. Originally from Miami, Florida, she now lives in Chicago with her family and works as a community college librarian. She still listens to punk music.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family. But Julia is not the perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role, before a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago left Olga dead. The tragedy shattered her family, but no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?

Sánchez is a poet, a feminist and a cheerleader for young women everywhere. She was the sex and love advice columnist for Cosmopolitan for Latinas for three years, and her writing has appeared in the Rolling Stone, Salon and the Paris Review. Since she was a 12-year-old nerd in giant bifocals and embroidered vests, Sánchez has dreamed of writing complex, empowering stories about girls of color—what she wanted to read as a young adult. She lives in Chicago. For more information, visit

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