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Tomás Rivera Children’s Book Award announces three winning titles

Inside TXST

Jayme Blaschke | April 13, 2021

The books The Spirit of Chicano Park, written by Beatrice Zamora and illustrated by Maira Maez, Feathered Serpent and the Five Suns: A Mesoamerican Creation Myth, written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh, and Dreaming with Mariposas, written by Sonia Gutiérrez, have been named the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award recipients for works published in 2019-2020.

The Spirit of Chicano Park and Feathered Serpent and the Five Suns: A Mesoamerican Creation Myth were honored in the "Works for Younger Readers" category. Dreaming with Mariposas was honored in the "Works for Older Readers" category.

The awards will be presented at Texas State on Oct. 28, with additional events scheduled in cooperation with the Texas Book Festival on Oct. 30.

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.

The Spirit of Chicano Park

book cover for "the spirit of chicano park"

The Spirit of Chicano Park tells the dynamic story of the people of Logan Heights and world-famous Chicano Park. Through the eyes of a mystical Señora, Bettie and Bonky travel through a historical journey of a community’s struggle to build a park and learn the true history of Chicano Park and the importance of finding their voices and community action.

Zamora, a California native, grew up during the civil rights movement in the 1960s. At a young age she became involved with various social justice causes that eventually became the basis and foundation for her winning book.

Meza is a first-generation Chicana from California. During her teenage years she won several national poster contests that encouraged her love of art. Challenged by health complications, she turned to art for therapy and uses her mind and hand to bring her to a peaceful zone.

Feathered Serpent and the Five Suns: A Mesoamerican Creation Myth

book cover for "feathered serpent and the five suns"

Long ago, the gods of Mesoamerica set out to create humans. They tried many times during each sun, or age, but many attempts failed, and the gods grew tired. Only one did not give up: Quetzalcóatl—the Feathered Serpent. Gathering his staff, shield, cloak and shell ornament for good luck, Feathered Serpent embarked on the dangerous quest to create humankind.

Tonatiuh was born in Mexico City but travels often to the U.S. His books have received many awards over the years. Duncan is a past recipient of the Tomás Rivera Book Award. He resides in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, with his wife and children.

Dreaming with Mariposas

book cover for "dreaming with mariposas"

Written in a Tomás Rivera and Sandra Cisneros bildungsroman vignette style, Dreaming with Mariposas recounts the story of the Martínez family as told through the eyes of transfronteriza Sofía “Chofi” Martínez. Chofi witnesses institutional racism, sexual harassment and colorism as she learns to navigate the dreams of her parents as well as her own. In the process, she discovers her superpower, the strength of her Mexican Indigenous heritage and the spirit world.

Gutiérrez powerfully and poetically captures what it’s like to grow up as a brown girl in America. She teaches critical thinking and writing, women’s, gender and sexuality studies, and multicultural studies. She is currently working on her first picture book.

tomas rivera book award logo

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.

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922