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Arte Público Press • Piñata Books Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage
Falling in Love with Fellow Prisoners Poems
Debut poetry collection by Houston’s first Poet Laureate
“Drive back and forth / A rush-hour tide / I strive to regain that feeling I felt / When I thought that this was worth it. / The drive is gray. / I cry.” Gwendolyn Zepeda, a Houston native who has struggled to escape the inner-city barrio she grew up in, wonders why she’s crying about her long commute to the suburbs. “I’m driving towards something I sure / Can’t complain about, something my / Parents could never have had.” Single with three sons, Zepeda made her way in corporate America, “the cold, beige womb of a money-grubbing mother,” in the fight to provide them with better opportunities. Along the way, she has had to come to terms with the guilt of working in physical comfort while others work outside, trapped in dangerous jobs and the realization that the quality of her work doesn’t really matter to anyone. She’s an astute observer of people: her elders, full of bitterness; the stranger on the elevator, who exudes the smell of hate; the needy girl who’s broken. She’s compassionate and considerate, but Zepeda always chooses survival. Whether musing on dysfunctional relationships or parenthood, Gwendolyn Zepeda, the first Poet Laureate of Houston, captures the aching loneliness and vulnerability of contemporary urban life. Praise for the work of Gwendolyn Zepeda: “Fresh and smart.” —Booklist on Lone Star Legend
“Zepeda . . . presents a debut about the everyday struggle to find one’s way but adds unusual and alluring touches, namely the vibrant Houston setting and the novel’s emphasis on Tex-Mex culture, art and folklore.” —Booklist on Houston, We Have a Problema GWENDOLYN ZEPEDA is the author of a short-story collection, To the Last Man I Slept with and All the Jerks Just Like Him, and three novels: Houston, We Have a Problema; Lone Star Legend; and Better with You Here. A native of Houston, Texas, she is the Bayou City’s very first Poet Laureate.
Trade Paperback | $14.95 ISBN: 978-1-55885-769-8 September 30, 2013 | 64 pages
The Accidental Native
J. L. Torres
An intriguing novel about returning home and reclaiming love
When Rennie’s parents die in a freak accident, he does what he knows they would have wanted and buries them in their homeland, Puerto Rico. There, in the small town they grew up in, he’s in for another shock: the woman who raised him was not his biological mother. His birth mother, Julia, wants to get to know the son she gave up many years before, but Rennie is still grieving and unable to accept the truth. Adrift, with no family in New York and haunted by memories, Rennie is swayed by Julia’s constant pleading that he move to the island. A teaching job at a college in Puerto Rico decides it, and he finds himself flying “home” to a place he knows only through his parents’ recollections. Life and work on the island aren’t like they are in the U.S. The university is woefully behind in terms of technology, the students aren’t eager to learn English and his department chair isn’t thrilled to have a Nuyorican on staff. Most disturbing, though, is the rumor that numerous faculty and staff are dying of cancer because the campus is a former U.S. military base where toxic ammunitions have been buried. Rennie soon finds himself working to expose the government’s lies, though he risks losing his job, his home and even the woman he loves. In his debut novel, J.L. Torres captures the conflict experienced by Puerto Ricans returning to their “homeland.” Praise for The Family Terrorist and Other Stories: “A deeply satisfying collection. Sexy, provocative, brave even, Torres gives plenty of space in ten of his eleven stories for an exploration of how men construct their identities in relation to the men with whom they interact.” —MultiCultural Review J.L. TORRES, a professor of English at the State University of New York Plattsburgh, is the author of a short-story collection, The Family Terrorist and Other Stories. His stories and poetry have been published widely in anthologies and magazines.
Trade Paperback | $17.95 ISBN: 978-1-55885-777-3 September 30, 2013 | 208 pages
Tommy Stands Tall
Gloria L. Velásquez
The latest installment in the Roosevelt High School Series focuses on GLBT issues
Tommy is excited to finally be a senior at Roosevelt High School. There was a time when he thought he’d never graduate, especially after he tried to kill himself to avoid dealing with his sexual orientation. But with the help of his friends, he has accepted who he is, come out to his family and friends and is preparing for college next year. When Albert, a new student at Roosevelt High, is badly beaten, Tommy can’t help but wonder if he was attacked because he’s gay and fears Albert might seek the same solution he himself did two years before. Tommy visits Ms. Martinez, the counselor who helped him come to terms with his sexuality, and she reminds him about his idea to start a Gay Straight Alliance Club at Roosevelt High. Suddenly, he realizes how he can help Albert. Tommy finds other students—both gay and straight—interested in starting a club to raise awareness and seek equality for gay students. But will it really make a difference? And will the group be able to help Albert? Tommy Stands Tall is the ninth novel in Gloria L. Velásquez’s popular Roosevelt High School Series, which features a multiracial group of teenaged students who must individually confront social and cultural issues that young adults face today. This is the second novel that follows Tommy’s story, which began in Tommy Stands Alone. Praise for the Roosevelt High School Series: “Educational and at the same time compelling, the novel raises teenagers’ awareness on a topic considered taboo among Latinos.” —Kirkus Reviews on Rudy’s Memory Walk GLORIA L. VELÁSQUEZ is the author of the Roosevelt High School Series, which now comprises nine novels, and two poetry collections. She lives in San Luis Obispo, where she is a professor in the Modern Languages and Literatures Department at California Polytechnic State University.
Trade Paperback | $9.95 | Ages 11 & up ISBN: 978-1-55885-778-0 October 31, 2013 | 108 pages
El misterio del maloso marcador mágico
René Saldaña, Jr.
Kid detective Mickey Rangel has another mystery to solve in the third book in this series of bilingual “flip” books for middle readers
It’s Monday morning, and kid detective extraordinaire Mickey Rangel is on the hot seat. “You must be wondering why I’ve called you to my office,” said Mrs. Abrego, the school principal. And in fact, Mickey has been racking his brain and sweating bullets, trying to figure out what he has done to warrant being pulled out of homeroom. Could it have been the spitball fight with his twin brother Ricky on the bus? How could word have gotten to Mrs. A that quickly? When she instead brings up the recent rash of graffiti on school grounds, he quickly realizes why she has called him in: she needs his help! Mrs. A has heard that Mickey is a detective, and he confirms that he’s the “real deal,” with an online certificate. She wants him to unmask the Magic Marker Mischief Maker, the person writing all over the school’s walls. The culprit has left numerous clues in his postings—mainly a pronounced lack of grammar and spelling skills. And when Bucho, Mickey’s life-long nemesis, denies involvement and asks for his help, Mickey—flabbergasted but intrigued—is “on the case.” In the third book in the Mickey Rangel Mystery series for intermediate readers, author and educator René Saldaña, Jr. has once again crafted an appealing book for kids, and his wise-cracking, smart protagonist will appeal to even the most reluctant readers. Praise for the work of René Saldaña, Jr.: “Lively and entertaining narrative coupled with attractive illustrations will make this book a favorite among young mystery readers.” —Críticas on The Case of the Pen Gone Missing RENE SALDAÑA, JR. is the author of the Mickey Rangel Mystery series and several books for teens and middle readers, including, Dancing with the Devil and Other Tales from Beyond / Bailando con el diablo y otros cuentos del más allá, A Good Long Way, The Whole Sky Full of Stars and Finding Our Way: Stories. He lives in Lubbock, Texas, where he teaches in the College of Education at Texas Tech University.
The Mystery of the Magic Marker Mischief Maker
Trade Paperback | $9.95 | Ages 8-12 ISBN: 978-1-55885-776-6 Bilingual Title! October 31, 2013 | 64 pages
La chancleta perdida y otros casos secretos
Flaca, or Detective Flaca as she likes to be called, shares three of her top-secret cases in this bilingual “flip” book
Flaca’s chancleta, or flip flop, has gone missing! She prepares to investigate the theft: “Pencil and notepad: in hand. Straw hat for disguise: on. Magnifying glass: Check.” She interviews each of her family members, all of whom are suspects. Oddly, their stories check out, so Flaca will have to dig deeper to find the culprit. Normally, Detective Flaca—a pale, scrawny second grader—doesn’t allow civilians to read her confidential case files. But young readers willing to sign the confidentiality agreement that appears before the three top-secret cases included in this bilingual collection are in luck! In “The Case of the Missing China,” Flaca discovers small pieces of china—or oranges for those who grew up in Puerto Rico—in a fruit cup included in her lunch. She’s allergic to oranges, so she immediately suspects someone is trying to harm her. But who could it be? And in “The Case of the Lost Salsa,” Flaca is dismayed to learn she will have to dance salsa at her older sister’s quinceañera. Attending the birthday party is bad enough, but performing in front of everyone is unimaginable! When Flaca starts dance lessons, she realizes her “salsa” is missing. She uses her finely tuned detective skills to locate her lost dancing abilities, ultimately discovering that one’s inner “salsa” can’t be found with pencil and paper. Narrated by Detective Flaca in hard-boiled detective style, this bilingual collection of inter-related short stories for intermediate readers will appeal to seasoned and reluctant readers alike. And Flaca will surely inspire a host of amateur private investigators! ALIDIS VICENTE is the author of a picture book, The Coquí and the Iguana. She received her bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University and worked for New Jersey’s Division of Youth and Family Services. She lives and works in New Jersey.
The Missing Chancleta and Other Top-Secret Cases
Trade Paperback | $9.95 | Ages 7-10 ISBN: 978-1-55885-779-7 Bilingual Title! November 30, 2013 | 64 pages
My Migrant Family Story La historia de mi familia migrante
A bilingual memoir for intermediate readers about a family’s migrant worker experience
Every spring, Lilia García had to leave school early to go north with her family to pick fruits and vegetables. She was too young to work in the fields with the rest of the family, so her mother and teenage brother would sign her up to attend the local school. She was the only Spanishspeaking child at Coloma Elementary, and that, combined with the fact that it was late in the school year, made it difficult to make friends and keep up with the work. In this bilingual collection of short vignettes, García remembers her family’s life as migrant workers in the 1970s. Every year, they packed their red, Ford pick-up and left McAllen, Texas. The children’s excitement soon waned during the long drive through Texas, but grew as they passed the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and skyscrapers in Chicago. Finally, they arrived at their destination: the Ponderosa in Coloma, Michigan. The family worked year in and year out for the same patrón, who allowed them to live in a house they called the Ponderosa, named for the big house on the TV show Bonanza. It was surrounded by fields full of fruits: an apple orchard lay to the east; a peach orchard was on the other side. There were strawberry patches, cherry trees and a grape vineyard. García’s family worked long, back-breaking hours for a pittance, but they were together and their love for each other pulled them through. García was nine when her father found a full-time job in McAllen and their migrant life came to an end. “We missed the adventure of travel and sightseeing, but we didn’t miss the hard, back-breaking work.” Staying in one place allowed the kids to focus on school, ensuring that they never had to do that back-breaking work again. This is a heartfelt recollection of the life of migrant workers. LILIA GARCÍA has worked as an elementary bilingual teacher, and currently works at San Antonio College in San Antonio, Texas. She lives in Seguin, Texas. This is her first book.
Trade Paperback | $9.95 | Ages 8-12 ISBN: 978-1-55885-780-3 Bilingual Title! October 31, 2013 | 64 pages
What the Critics Say
Desperado: A Mile High Noir
“As invigorating as a dip in a Rocky Mountain stream.” —Mystery Scene magazine “A dark mix of North Denver gangsters and Catholicism, but it’s [the] setting that really grips readers. Nostalgia is combined with reality . . . Ramos gets it right.” —Denver Post
Calligraphy of the Witch
“De Alba has a firm grasp of her historical material and portrays the pirate life as convincingly as the witch trials.” —Publishers Weekly “De Alba’s Puritans are as rich and complex as any characters in recent historical fiction.” —Kirkus Reviews
Hotel Juárez: Stories, Rooms and Loops
“In seemingly effortless fashion, Chacón’s talent goes into play, his collection unfolding with sketches of life . . . sketches that [he] draws for us in unpretentious prose—all on the border between the U.S. and Mexico, all on the border between life and art.” —Alan Cheuse, NPR’s All Things Considered
The Land Grant
“In the troubled, dusty border region of South Texas, corruption and violence aren’t isolated forces to be wrestled with and conquered by our hero but a pervasive condition. Alex is no white knight, but he’s sympathetic enough that the harsh denouement will leave readers shaken.” —Publishers Weekly
Our Lost Border: Essays on Life amid the Narco-Violence
“Eye-opening collection of essays details struggles of Mexican and American citizens affected by drug cartels along the Mexican-American border. Oscillating between gruesome and hopeful, the collection . . . is imbued with optimism.” —Publishers Weekly “A tough but eye-opening read.” —Kirkus Reviews
The Poet Upstairs
“An important story about family, dreams, art and not giving up.” —ForeWord Reviews
The Witches of Ruidoso
“Elegant prose is a highlight in a book [with] memoirlike tone.” —Kirkus Reviews
The Cucuy Stole My Cascarones El Coco me robó los cascarones
Spelile Rivas Illustrations by Valeria Cervantes
The confetti-filled eggs meant for Roberto’s birthday party have disappeared and Roberto is sure the boogeyman is the culprit
Mighty Monster Mysteries! Roberto and his mother made thirty dozen confetti-filled eggs, or cascarones, for his birthday party. Roberto can’t wait to crack the hollowed, painted and confetti-stuffed eggs over his friends’ heads. But, when he goes to the kitchen to get the cascarones, they’re gone! The only clue they ever existed is a trail of confetti that leads to a shadow. The shadow of the cucuy, or boogeyman! A party isn’t a party without cascarones. So, even though the cucuy has scary eyes, sharp claws and pointy fangs, Roberto resolves to get them back. He grabs his red wagon with the squeaky wheels and follows the trail of confetti, only to discover the tamales, cake and piñata for his party also have been swiped! Children ages 4-8 will follow along in breathless anticipation as brave Roberto conquers his fears and sets out to get his party back. Author Spelile Rivas and illustrator Valeria Cervantes team up again in this engaging sequel to their award-winning debut, No Time for Monsters / No hay tiempo para monstruos. Praise for No Time for Monsters / No hay tiempo para monstruos: Winner of the 2010-2011 Tejas Star Book Award “Cervantes’s digital illustrations are done in bold vibrant colors and complement Rivas’s amusing story line. This story will work well both as a read-aloud and for sharing one-on-one.” —School Library Journal SPELILE RIVAS lives in Arlington, Texas, with her family. A former middle-school English teacher, she is the author of No Time for Monsters / No hay tiempo para monstruos. VALERIA CERVANTES lives and works in Mexico City, where she manages her own design bureau. She has worked as an art coordinator for McGraw-Hill Interamericana and has collaborated with several publishing houses in Mexico and abroad. She is the illustrator of No Time for Monsters / No hay tiempo para monstruos.
Hardcover | $17.95 | Ages 4-8 ISBN: 978-1-55885-771-1 November 30, 2013 | 32 pages
Lupe Ruiz-Flores Illustrations by Robert Casilla
In this energetic bilingual picture book, a young girl learns to dance salsa and make change in her community
Estella can’t help but giggle when she sees her neighbors, Doña Rosa and Doña María, shaking their hips while dancing and sweating at an exercise class at the community recreation center. Later, when her mother complains about gaining weight, Estella encourages her to join the class. Every day after school, Estella enjoys watching the women dance to the rhythmic music. And she’s especially thrilled when the instructor invites her to join them in dancing salsa. “Salsa? That’s what it’s called? I thought salsa was to eat with chips!” But one day, kids are banned from the class, and Estella is forced to go to a boring crafts class instead. She’d much rather be dancing! So when Estella learns that women had to fight to gain the right to vote, she decides she’ll petition for kids’ rights to enjoy salsa dance classes at the community center! In this bilingual picture book for children ages 5-9, a young girl learns that dancing is good for fun and fitness, and that even kids can change the way things are done. Praise for the work of Lupe Ruiz-Flores: “Ruiz-Flores crafts an uncomplicated and heartwarming story . . . and the colorful, full-page illustrations depict daily life in a small community. Great for reading aloud.” —Críticas on The Woodcutter’s Gift / El regalo del leñador LUPE RUIZ-FLORES is the author of several bilingual children’s books, including Lupita’s Papalote / El papalote de Lupita and Alicia’s Fruity Drinks / Las aguas frescas de Alicia. She lives in San Antonio, Texas. ROBERT CASILLA was born in New Jersey, to parents from Puerto Rico. He has illustrated many multicultural children’s books, including Jalapeño Bagels. He has also illustrated a number of biographies, including ones about Martin Luther King, Jr.; John F. Kennedy; and Rosa Parks.
Let’s Salsa Bailemos salsa
Hardcover | $17.95 | Ages 5-9 ISBN: 978-1-55885-762-9 November 30, 2013 | 32 pages
Lupe Ruiz-Flores Illustrations by Gabhor Utomo
A bilingual picture book about learning to dance from the heart—even in the spotlight!
Lupita is excited about dancing la raspa, a Mexican folk dance, with her first-grade class at a celebration of El día de los niños. They get to read books and dance too during this Children’s Day! But she’s devastated when she learns right before the show that her partner Ernesto sprained his right ankle. She had been practicing for weeks. And now her family won’t get to see her, swishing and swaying in her beautiful dress full of colorful ribbons. Lupita sadly watches the other dancers from backstage behind the blue velvet curtain. But suddenly, she finds herself on stage, in the spot where she and Ernesto should have been. She begins to dance the routine she knows so well, holding her arms out to an imaginary partner, and almost flees when the audience laughs at her. But the sight of her mother encourages her to be brave. She continues the dance, becoming the star of the show—at least in the eyes of her proud teacher and parents. Praise for the work of Lupe Ruiz-Flores: “This positive family story is a great way to start off a new school year or a unit on kites.” —School Library Journal on Lupita’s Papalote / El papalote de Lupita LUPE RUIZ-FLORES is the author of several bilingual children’s books, including The Woodcutter’s Gift / El regalo del leñador and Alicia’s Fruity Drinks / Las aguas frescas de Alicia. She lives and works in San Antonio, Texas. GABHOR UTOMO was born in Indonesia and received his degree from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco in 2003. He has illustrated a number of children’s books, including Kai’s Journey to Gold Mountain. He lives with his wife and twin daughters in Portland, Oregon.
Lupita’s First Dance El primer baile de Lupita
Hardcover | $17.95 | Ages 4-8 ISBN: 978-1-55885-772-8 November 30, 2013 | 32 pages
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