Celebrating 25 Years of the Pura Belpré Award: Book Talk About ¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat! by Raúl the Third

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We are an affiliate with Indiebound and Bookshop. If If you make a purchase through these links, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a small commission.

The Pura Belpré Award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latinx writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.

We have been marking the award’s 25th anniversary in different ways on the blog. Today, Dr. Sonia Rodriguez and Dora M. Guzmán talk about ¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat! by Raúl the Third. The book won the 2021 Pura Belpré Illustration Award.

Cover for ¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat (World of ¡Vamos!)

ABOUT THE BOOK: In this new Vamos! title, Let’s Go Eat, Little Lobo is excited to take in a show with wrestling star El Toro in his bustling border town. After getting lunch orders from The Bull and his friends to help prepare for the event, Little Lobo takes readers on a tour of food trucks that sell his favorite foods, like quesadillas with red peppers and Mexican-Korean tacos. Peppered with easy-to-remember Latin-American Spanish vocabulary, this glorious celebration of food is sure to leave every reader hungry for lunch!

You can find our book talks on our new YouTube channel!

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Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez, PhD is an Associate Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College (CUNY) where she teaches composition, literature, and creative writing. Her academic research focuses on decolonial healing in Latinx children’s and young adult literature. Sonia is a Mellon Emerging Faculty Leader.

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Dora M. Guzmán is a bilingual reading specialist for grades K-5 and also teaches college courses in Children’s Literature and Teaching Beginning Literacy. She is currently a doctoral student with a major in Reading, Language, and Literacy. When she is not sharing her love of reading with her students, you can find her in the nearest library, bookstore, or online, finding more great reads to add to her never-ending “to read” pile!

Book Talk: Areli is a Dreamer by Areli Morales, illus. by Luisa Uribe

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We are an affiliate with Indiebound and Bookshop. If If you make a purchase through these links, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a small commission.

Welcome to another Book Talk, which can be found on our new YouTube channel!

Here, Dr. Sonia Rodriguez and Dora M. Guzmán talk about ARELI IS A DREAMER by Areli Morales, illustrated by Luisa Uribe. If you want more information about the illustrator, click on this link to read a previous post about her process while creating illustration for THE VAST WONDER OF THE WORLD.

ABOUT THE BOOK: When Areli was just a baby, her mama and papa moved from Mexico to New York with her brother, Alex, to make a better life for the family–and when she was in kindergarten, they sent for her, too.
 
Everything in New York was different. Gone were the Saturdays at Abuela’s house, filled with cousins and sunshine. Instead, things were busy and fast and noisy. Areli’s limited English came out wrong, and schoolmates accused her of being illegal. But with time, America became her home. And she saw it as a land of opportunity, where millions of immigrants who came before her paved their own paths. She knew she would, too.
 
This is a moving story–one that resonates with millions of immigrants who make up the fabric of our country–about one girl living in two worlds, a girl whose DACA application was eventually approved and who is now living her American dream.
 
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an immigration policy that has provided relief to thousands of undocumented children, referred to as “Dreamers,” who came to the United States as children and call this country home.

Click on the link below to watch the book talk and then add your comments below to join the conversation. ENJOY!

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Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez, PhD is an Associate Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College (CUNY) where she teaches composition, literature, and creative writing. Her academic research focuses on decolonial healing in Latinx children’s and young adult literature. Sonia is a Mellon Emerging Faculty Leader.

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Dora M. Guzmán is a bilingual reading specialist for grades K-5 and also teaches college courses in Children’s Literature and Teaching Beginning Literacy. She is currently a doctoral student with a major in Reading, Language, and Literacy. When she is not sharing her love of reading with her students, you can find her in the nearest library, bookstore, or online, finding more great reads to add to her never-ending “to read” pile!

Celebrating 25 Years of the Pura Belpré Award: Book Talk About Snapshots from the Wedding by Gary Soto, illus. by Stephanie Garcia

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We are an affiliate with Indiebound and Bookshop. If If you make a purchase through these links, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a small commission.

The Pura Belpré Award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latinx writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.

We will be marking the award’s 25th anniversary in different ways on the blog. Today, Dr. Sonia Rodriguez and Dora M. Guzmán talk about Snapshots from the Wedding by Gary Soto, illustrated by Stephanie Garcia. The book won the 1998 Pura Belpré Illustration Award.

Cover for Snapshots from the Wedding

ABOUT THE BOOK: Being a flower girl has never been so exciting.

Meet Maya, Isabel’s flower girl, as she describes in vivid detail the exciting wedding day. Maya introduces us to Danny, the ring bearer; Aunt Marta, crying big tears; Uncle Trino, jump-starting a car in his tuxedo; and Rafael, the groom, with a cast on his arm. Of course, the big day also includes games, dancing, cake, and a mariachi band that plays long into an evening no one will ever forget.

Snapshots from the Wedding captures the unique moments of a special occasion–the big scenes as well as the little ones–that together form a rich family mosaic.

You can find our book talks on our new YouTube channel!

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Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez, PhD is an Associate Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College (CUNY) where she teaches composition, literature, and creative writing. Her academic research focuses on decolonial healing in Latinx children’s and young adult literature. Sonia is a Mellon Emerging Faculty Leader.

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Dora M. Guzmán is a bilingual reading specialist for grades K-5 and also teaches college courses in Children’s Literature and Teaching Beginning Literacy. She is currently a doctoral student with a major in Reading, Language, and Literacy. When she is not sharing her love of reading with her students, you can find her in the nearest library, bookstore, or online, finding more great reads to add to her never-ending “to read” pile!

Book Talk: The Cot in the Living Room by Hilda Eunice Burgos, illus. by Gaby D’Alessandro

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We are an affiliate with Indiebound and Bookshop. If If you make a purchase through these links, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a small commission.

Welcome to another Book Talk, which can be found on our new YouTube channel!

Here, Dr. Sonia Rodriguez and Dora M. Guzmán talk about THE COT IN THE LIVING ROOM by Hilda Eunice Burgos, illustrated by Gaby D’Alessandro.

ABOUT THE BOOK: Night after night, a young girl watches her mami set up a cot in the living room for guests in their Washington Heights apartment, like Raquel (who’s boring) and Edgardo (who gets crumbs everywhere). She resents that they get the entire living room with a view of the George Washington Bridge, while all she gets is a tiny bedroom with a view of her sister (who snores). Until one night when no one comes, and it’s finally her chance! But as it turns out, sleeping on the cot in the living room isn’t all she thought it would be.

With charming text by Hilda Eunice Burgos and whimsical illustrations by Gaby D’Alessandro, The Cot in the Living Room is a celebration of the ways a Dominican American community takes care of one another while showing young readers that sometimes the best way to be a better neighbor is by imagining how it feels to spend a night sleeping on someone else’s pillow.

Click on the link to watch the book talk and then add your comments below to join the conversation. ENJOY!

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Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez, PhD is an Associate Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College (CUNY) where she teaches composition, literature, and creative writing. Her academic research focuses on decolonial healing in Latinx children’s and young adult literature. Sonia is a Mellon Emerging Faculty Leader.

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Dora Guzmán is a bilingual reading specialist for grades K-5 and also teaches college courses in Children’s Literature and Teaching Beginning Literacy. She is currently a doctoral student with a major in Reading, Language, and Literacy. When she is not sharing her love of reading with her students, you can find her in the nearest library, bookstore, or online, finding more great reads to add to her never-ending “to read” pile!

Spotlight on Latinx Illustrators: Erika Meza

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We are an affiliate with Indiebound and Bookshop. If If you make a purchase through these links, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a small commission.

By Cecilia Cackley

This is the eleventh in a series of posts spotlighting Latinx illustrators of picture books. Some of these artists have been creating children’s books for many years, while others will have their first book out soon. They come from many different cultural backgrounds, but all are passionate about connecting with readers through art and story. Please look for their books at bookstores and libraries!

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Erika Meza

Erika Meza is a Mexican Migrant: colorful, bubbly, and a taco connoisseur. After studying graphic design back home (and moving house nearly 30 times) she lived in a dungeon with a princess in Paris to attend the Illustration (Image Imprimée) program at ENSAD, which got her addicted to chocolate éclairs and 2 am bike rides by the river.

She now lives with a cat in the UK where she works with ink, gouaches, and watercolor pencils as an author and illustrator.

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Q: What or who inspired you to become an artist? 

A: I remember vividly being four or five years old, and watching a making-of my parents had recorded for me on a Betamax cassette (for the younglings, that’s the grandfather of the VHS tape) about the ink-and-paint girls in the Disney studios. All those women having access to all of those paint colors, and creating all those beautiful and precise paint strokes, was for me the equivalent of a dream-world: it quickly became one of the most rewinded tapes of my childhood. Later on, becoming a children’s illustrator turned into the obvious choice: it meant I could write, design characters, and my own little universes: in short, to wear all of the creative hats I wanted.

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Q: Tell us something about your favorite artistic medium–why you like it, when you first learned it, etc. 

A: Oh gosh, watercolor pencils and inks. I love drawing, I love sketching – the messier it is, the better. But when I paint, I have a tendency to go clean and precise. As a result, people often told me that my final artwork lacked the energy and the vibrancy I had in my sketches.

It took a lot of patience and confidence, but watercolor pencils solved that problem for me. I sketch in my usual way directly on the final watercolor paper, and then allow the splashes of watercolors and inks to flow and help me discover the illustration as I go. It means letting go of a certain amount of control, which is hard for my perfectionistic brain to accept (and probably nerve-wrecking to the art directors who have never seen me work, haha). But the end result keeps being a surprise, and retains all the joy I have in making it, even if I have to paint it again from scratch if something went wrong. And I very much think it shows in the final result.

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Q: Please finish this sentence: “Picture books are important because…”

 A:…because they establish the relationship we will have to books growing up, as well as start helping us understand the world we live in. They are the first window we have to other cultures, other stories, and to our own imagination.

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Cecilia Cackley is a Mexican-American playwright and puppeteer based in Washington, DC. A longtime bookseller, she is currently the Children’s/YA buyer and event coordinator for East City Bookshop on Capitol Hill. Find out more about her art at www.ceciliacackley.com or follow her on Twitter @citymousedc

August 2021 Latinx Book Releases!

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We are an affiliate with Indiebound and Bookshop. If If you make a purchase through these links, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a small commission.

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In addition to listing 2021 titles by/for/about Latinx on our master list, we will remind readers of what’s releasing each month. CONGRATULATIONS to these Latinx creators. Let’s celebrate these August book babies! Please let us know in the comments if we are missing any.

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DRILL TEAM DETERMINATION: A Jake Maddox JV Girls Story text by Cindy L. Rodriguez (Capstone/Stone Arch Books, August 1, 2021). Middle Grade. Thirteen-year-old Aniyah comes from a long line of drill and step team members. Her mom and aunts all competed, so none of them understand why Aniyah doesn’t want to continue the tradition. But Aniyah doesn’t like attention or performing. Then Aniyah’s friend Stacy convinces her to give the team a try. They dance just for fun and they don’t compete, so there’s no pressure. Aniyah discovers she is right—it is kind of fun! But just when Aniyah is starting to get into the groove, the rules change, and the team decides to enter a competition. Can Aniyah overcome her fears and get on board with competition, or will she have to step away from drill team?

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GYMNASTICS PAYBACK: A Jake Maddox Mysteries Book text by Cindy L. Rodriguez (Capstone/Stone Arch Books, August 1, 2021). Middle Grade. Mia Hernandez’s gymnastics team is nervous about the upcoming season. However, they’re encouraged when their new coach tells them that she was once a gymnast for their longtime rivals. The coach’s knowledge will be a great advantage during the season. But strange things begin to happen at the competitions. The wrong music is played during some girls’ floor exercises. Itching powder ends up in one team’s chalk. At another meet, the parallel bars fall apart while a competitor performs her routine. Someone is taking dangerous risks to cheat at the competitions. But who could it be, and why? Follow along as Mia discovers the shocking truth behind who’s been sabotaging the competition during the gymnastics season in this Jake Maddox JV Mystery.

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A SONG OF FRUTAS/ Un pregón de frutas by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Sara Palacios (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, August 3, 2021). Picture Book. The little girl loves visiting her grandfather in Cuba and singing his special songs to sell all kinds of fruit: mango, limón, naranja, piña, and more! Even when they’re apart, grandfather and granddaughter can share rhymes between their countries like un abrazo—a hug—made of words carried on letters that soar across the distance like songbirds.

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LIKE A LOVE SONG by Gabriela Martins (Underlined, August 3, 2021). Young AdultFake boyfriend. Real heartbreak? Natalie is living her dream: topping the charts and setting records as a Brazilian pop star… until she’s dumped spectacularly on live television. Not only is it humiliating–it could end her career.

Her PR team’s desperate plan? A gorgeous yet oh-so-fake boyfriend. Nati reluctantly agrees, but William is not what she expected. She was hoping for a fierce bad boy–not a soft-hearted British indie film star. While she fights her way back to the top with a sweet and surprisingly swoon-worthy boy on her arm, she starts to fall for William–and realizes that maybe she’s the biggest fake of them all. Can she reclaim her voice and her heart?

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PAOLA SANTIAGO AND THE FOREST OF NIGHTMARES by Tehlor Kay Mejia (Rick Riordan Presents, August 3, 2021). Middle Grade. Six months after Paola Santiago confronted the legendary La Llorona, life is nothing like she’d expected it to be. She is barely speaking to her best friends, Dante and Emma, and what’s worse, her mom has a totally annoying boyfriend. Even with her chupacabra puppy, Bruto, around, Pao can’t escape the feeling that she’s all alone in the world.

Pao has no one to tell that she’s having nightmares again, this time set in a terrifying forest. Even more troubling? At their center is her estranged father, an enigma of a man she barely remembers. And when Dante’s abuela falls mysteriously ill, it seems that the dad Pao never knew just might be the key to healing the eccentric old woman.

Pao’s search for her father will send her far from home, where she will encounter new monsters and ghosts, a devastating betrayal, and finally, the forest of her nightmares. Will the truths her father has been hiding save the people Pao loves, or destroy them?

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WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE GREEN? by Rana DiOrio, illustrated by Addy Rivera Sonda (Little Pickle Press, August 3, 2021). Picture Book. A young boy and girl explore all the different ways they can be green over the course of a day. Drawing on two sides of your paper instead of just one. Walking to the park instead of getting a ride. Turning off the water while you brush your teeth. They discover lots of amazing facts (like how our food travels an average of 1,500 miles to be on our plate ) and realize there’s so much they–and we–can do to help save our world

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Yamile Saied Méndez - Wish Upon a Stray

WISH UPON A STRAY by Yamile Saied Méndez (Scholastic, August 3, 2021). Middle Grade. María Emilia’s life turns upside-down when she and her family immigrate from Argentina to the US. How can she make new friends when simply speaking English all day is exhausting?

Luckily, she has the company of a stray dog in the neighborhood, who happens to look and act just like her beloved pet cat back home. Eventually, it turns out the pup isn’t a stray after all — she belongs to María Emilia’s new neighbor, Donovan. In order to spend more time with the dog (who totally isn’t her reincarnated cat… right?), she agrees to sing in Donovan’s band. But can Emilia find her new voice without losing herself?

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ALEJANDRIA FIGHTS BACK! / ¡LA LUCHA DE ALEJANDRIA! by Leticia Hernandez-Linares, illustrated by Robert Liu-Trujillo for the Rise-Home Project (Feminist Press, August 10, 2021). Picture Book. For nine-year-old Alejandria, home isn’t just the apartment she shares with Mami and her abuela, Tita, but rather the whole neighborhood. Home is the bakery where Ms. Beatrice makes yummy picos; the sidewalk where Ms. Alicia sells flowers with her little dog, Duende; and the corner store with friendly Mr. Amir.

But lately the city has been changing, and rent prices are going up. Many people in el barrio are leaving because they can no longer afford their homes, and For Sale signs are popping up everywhere. Then the worst thing happens: Mami receives a letter saying they’ll have to move out too.

Alejandria knows it isn’t fair, but she’s not about to give up and leave. Join Alejandria as she brings her community together to fight and save their neighborhood.

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Boogie Boogie, Y'all - Kindle edition by Esperanza, C. G., Esperanza, C.  G.. Children Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

BOOGIE BOOGIE, Y’ALL written and illustrated by C.G. Esperanza (Katherine Tegan Books, August 10, 2021). Picture Book. A celebratory ode to graffiti and the Boogie Down Bronx. The city is alive with vibrant art in every corner of the parks, the shops, the trains. But most people are too busy to see it—or worse, choose to ignore it! When three children stop to marvel at the art around their community, they realize it’s up to them to show everyone else how truly special it is when art and reality dance together so seamlessly.

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HOW MOON FUENTEZ FELL IN LOVE WITH THE UNIVERSE by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, August 10, 2021). Young Adult. When her twin sister reaches social media stardom, Moon Fuentez accepts her fate as the ugly, unwanted sister hidden in the background, destined to be nothing more than her sister’s camerawoman. But this summer, Moon also takes a job as the “merch girl” on a tour bus full of beautiful influencers and her fate begins to shift in the best way possible.

Most notable is her bunkmate and new nemesis, Santiago Phillips, who is grumpy, combative, and also the hottest guy Moon has ever seen.

Moon is certain she hates Santiago and that he hates her back. But as chance and destiny (and maybe, probably, close proximity) bring the two of them in each other’s perpetual paths, Moon starts to wonder if that’s really true. She even starts to question her destiny as the unnoticed, unloved wallflower she always thought she was.

Could this summer change Moon’s life as she knows it?

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13th STREET #6: Fight with the Freeze-Ray Fowls by David Bowles, illustrated by Shane Clester (HarperChapters, August 17, 2021). Chapter Book. Cousins Malia, Dante, and Ivan must face off against the evil queen of 13th Street. But she has lots of monsters on her side, including birds that can freeze you with a look! Can the cousins defeat her and shut down 13th Street once and for all?

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BIG APPLE DIARIES written and illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez (Roaring Brook Press, August 17, 2021). Middle Grade. It’s the year 2000 in New York City. For 12-year old Alyssa, this means splitting time between her Puerto Rican dad’s apartment in Manhattan and her white mom’s new place in Queens, navigating the trials and tribulations of middle school, and an epic crush on a new classmate. The only way to make sense of it all is to capture the highs and lows in doodles and hilarious comics in a diary.

Then life abruptly changes on September 11, 2001. After the Twin Towers fall and so many lives are lost, worries about gossip and boys feel distant and insignificant. Alyssa must find a new sense of self and purpose amidst all of the chaos, and find the strength to move forward with hope.

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Cover for Child of the Flower-Song People: Luz Jiménez, Daughter of the Nahua

CHILD OF THE FLOWER-SONG PEOPLE: Luz Jiménez, Daughter of the Nahua by Gloria Amescua, illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh (Abrams Books for Young Readers, August 17, 2021). Picture Book. As a young Nahua girl in Mexico during the early 1900s, Luz learned how to grind corn in a metate, to twist yarn with her toes, and to weave on a loom. By the fire at night, she listened to stories of her community’s joys, suffering, and survival, and wove them into her heart.

But when the Mexican Revolution came to her village, Luz and her family were forced to flee and start a new life. In Mexico City, Luz became a model for painters, sculptors, and photographers such as Diego Rivera, Jean Charlot, and Tina Modotti. These artists were interested in showing the true face of Mexico and not a European version. Through her work, Luz found a way to preserve her people’s culture by sharing her native language, stories, and traditions. Soon, scholars came to learn from her.

The book includes an author’s note, timeline, glossary, and bibliography.

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DEFINITELY DOMINGUITA: All for One by Terry Castasús, illustrated by Fatima Anaya (Aladdin, August 17, 2021). Chapter Book. Dom, Pancho, Steph, and their noble steed, Rocco, are ready for their next adventure! When their beloved El Señor Fuentes asks Dom to run a very important errand—to put the order in at the local butcher shop for his daughter, Leni’s, upcoming quinceañera—Dom is happy to help. But when Señor Fuentes discovers the order was never put in—and the food for the party has been sold to someone else—Dom takes a cue from The Three Musketeers to try and figure out what happened.

With the help of Pancho and Steph, Dom discovers the dastardly Bublassi brothers have big plans to sabotage Leni’s party. Keeping in mind the famous motto All for One and One for All, Mundytown’s own Three Musketeers are determined to make sure Leni has a party she’ll remember for all the right reasons!

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LIVING BEYOND BORDERS: Growing up Mexican in America edited by Margarita Longoria (Philomel Books, August 17, 2021). Young Adult Anthology. Twenty stand-alone short stories, essays, poems, and more from celebrated and award-winning authors make up this YA anthology that explores the Mexican American experience. With works by Francisco X. Stork, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, David Bowles, Rubén Degollado, e.E. Charlton-Trujillo, Diana López, Xavier Garza, Trinidad Gonzales, Alex Temblador, Aida Salazar, Lupe Ruiz-Flores, Sylvia Sanchez Garza, Dominic Carrillo, Angela Cervantes, Carolyn Dee Flores, René Saldaña Jr., Justine Narro, Daniel García Ordaz, and Anna Meriano. In this mixed-media collection of short stories, personal essays, poetry, and comics, this celebrated group of authors share the borders they have crossed, the struggles they have pushed through, and the two cultures they continue to navigate as Mexican American.

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MY TWO BORDER TOWNS / MIS DOS PUEBLOS FRONTERIZOS by David Bowles, illustrated by Erika Meza (Kokila, August 24, 2021). Picture Book. Early one Saturday morning, a 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. To get there, his father drives their truck along the Rio Grande and over a bridge, where they’re greeted by a giant statue of an eagle. 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.

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BRAINS! NOT JUST A ZOMBIE SNACK by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Matthew Rivera (Henry Holt and Co. BYR, August 31, 2021). Picture Book. Brains. 78% water, 100% delicious. A zombie chef who has sworn off eating brains salivates over this super powerful organ in this funny and fact-filled picture book. From learning about how the brain processes messages from our five senses, to learning why wrinkly human brains are so much more powerful than smooth mouse brains, this is a hilarious introduction to the organ that does it all.

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