25th Anniversary Tomás Rivera Children’s Book Award winners announced

Inside TXST

Jayme Blaschke | March 2, 2020

tomas rivera logo

The book My Papi Has a Motorcycle, written by Isabel Quintero and illustrated by Zeke Peña, has been named the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award recipients for works published in 2018-2019.

My Papi Has a Motorcycle was honored in the "Works for Younger Readers" category.

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Rivera Book Award, the late Francisco X. Alarcón will receive an honorary award in recognition of his multiple contributions to Mexican American children's literature.

Quintero and Peña will discuss their award-winning book on Nov. 5 at Texas State and on Nov. 7 at the Texas Book Festival in Austin. Both events are opened to the public.

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.

book cover of my papi has a motorcycle

My Papi Has a Motorcycle 

My Papi Has a Motorcycle, tells the story of Daisy Ramona, who sees the people and places she's always known while zooming around her neighborhood with her papi on his motorcycle. She also sees a community that is rapidly changing around her. But as the sun sets purple-blue-gold behind Daisy Ramona and her papi, she knows that the love she feels will always be there. With vivid illustrations and text bursting with heart, My Papi Has a Motorcycle is a young girl's love letter to her hardworking father and to memories of home that she holds close in the midst of change.

Quintero is an award-winning writer from the Inland Empire of Southern California. She is also the daughter of Mexican immigrants. In addition to Gabi, A Girl in Pieces, she has also written a chapter book series for young readers, Ugly Cat and Pablo (Scholastic, Inc.) and a non-fiction young adult graphic biography, Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide (Getty Publications, 2018), which received the Boston Globe Horn Book Award. Quintero also writes poetry and essays. Her work can be found in The Normal School, Huizache, The Acentos Review, As/Us Journal, The James Franco Review and other publications.

Peña makes comics and illustrations as an accessible way to remix history and explore complex issues. He was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and grew up in El Paso. He earned his degree in art history from the University of Texas at Austin and is self-taught in drawing and painting. He has published work with VICE.com, Latino USA, The Believer Magazine, The Nib, Penguin Random House, Holt/Macmillan and Cinco Puntos Press. In 2018 he received the Boston Globe Horn Book Award for a graphic biography he illustrated titled Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide.

alarcon headshot
Francisco Xavier Alarcón

Francisco X. Alarcón (1954-2016)

Francisco Xavier Alarcón was a Chicano poet, educator and a prominent author of bilingual children’s literature. He was an activist for quality Mexican American literature, often encompassing mythology, the Nahuatl language, Mesoamerican history and American culture in his work to guide the reader through a journey of adventure for both children and adults. 

Instrumental in breaking barriers, he was the first openly gay Latino children’s writer who often wrote about the life of immigrants, love and the indigenous languages and traditions in Mexico. As a pioneer of children’s bilingual literature, he wrote bilingual books of children’s verse, which he later said was the best thing he had ever done. 

Alarcón’s was born in California, growing up in Guadalajara, Mexico. He returned to the United States to earn his bachelor’s degree from California State University at Long Beach and master’s MA from Stanford University. As an author and professor at the University of California, Davis, Alarcón’s mission was to empower children to become active and playful readers. Although speaking several languages, Alarcón was nationally known among Chicano poets in part because he published in both Spanish and English and made major contributions in both languages.

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.

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922