Meet Our March Reading Rock Stars Authors

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On March 20th and 21st authors from across the country will present their work to students in economically-disadvantaged schools in the Edinburg, McAllen, and Mission districts of the Rio Grande Valley, with generous support from major sponsor Target. At the end of the presentations, each child will receive an autographed copy of the author’s book, and a set of books will also be given to the school library. The Reading Rock Stars program was originally implemented in Austin in 2001 and expanded to the Rio Grande Valley in 2008. With help from community partner the University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA), Reading Rock Stars is held during FESTIBA, UTPA’s annual Festival of International Books and Arts.

To help us reach even more kids through Reading Rock Stars program, be sure to tune in and donate March 20th & 21st to our Amplify Austin Campaign!

Head to the Barnes and Nobles at Palms Crossing 3300 Expressway 83 # 1100 McAllen, TX 78501 for a chance to meet the authors for an in-store appearance at  4:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 20th.

Meet the authors!


Bertrand Diane website Diane Gonzales Bertrand is the author of numerous books for children and young adults. Her books for young children include Sofía and the Purple Dress / Sofía y el vestido morado (Piñata Books, 2012), Adelita and the Veggie Cousins / Adelita y las primas verduritas (Piñata Books, 2011), The Party for Papá Luis / La fiesta para Papá Luis (2010), We are Cousins / Somos primos (2007), Ricardo’s Race / La carrera de Ricardo (2007), The Ruiz Street Kids / Los muchachos de la calle Ruiz (2006), The Empanadas That Abuela Made / Las empanadas que hacía la abuela (2002), Uncle Chente’s Picnic / El picnic de Tío Chente, (2001), The Last Doll / La última muñeca (2001), Family, Familia (1999), and Sip, Slurp, Soup, Soup / Caldo, caldo, caldo (1997). Bertrand’s books for young adults include The F Factor (Piñata Books, 2010), Upside Down and Backwards / De cabeza y al revés (2004), Close to the Heart (2002), Trino’s Time (2001), Trino’s Choice (1999), Lessons of the Game (1998), Alicia’s Treasure (1996) and Sweet Fifteen (1995). A lifelong resident of San Antonio, Bertrand teaches at St. Mary’s University where she is also Writer in Residence. – Arte Publico Press.


Ruiz-Flores Lupe websiteLupe Ruiz-Flores is the author of six bilingual picture books: Lupita’s First Dance / El primer baile de Lupita (2013), Let’s Salsa / Bailemos salsa (2013), Alicia’s Fruity Drinks / Las aguas frescas de Alicia (2012), The Battle of the Snow Cones / La Guerra de las raspas (2010), The Woodcutter’s Gift / El regalo del leñador (2007) and Lupita’s Papalote / El papalote de Lupita (2002). She has also written children’s narrative passages for Harcourt Educational Measurement Center. Some of her poetry has been published in Voices Along the River, the San Antonio Express-News, and Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review. She received a Master of Arts in Computer Resources and Information Management from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri in 1994. She was an engineering technician with the Department of Defense until her retirement in 1999. She is a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and is currently working on a middle grade novel. She resides in San Antonio, Texas. -Arte Publico Press.



DianaLopez_creditToddYates WEBSITEDiana Lopez  is the author of the novels Choke, Confetti Girl, and Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel. Confetti Girl won the 2012 William Allen White Award. She is the editor of the journal Huizache and the managing director of Centro Victoria, an organization devoted to promoting Mexican American literature. She lives in South Texas and teaches at the University of Houston-Victoria. – Hachette.






Saldana Rene websiteRené Saldaña, Jr. is the author of several acclaimed novels for young people that depict life in Mexican-American communities. Reviewers have used words like “powerful,” “provocative,” “engaging,” and “accessible” to describe his work. In A Good Long Way, an affecting novel that follows the troubled lives of three teens in deep South Texas, Saldaña once again writes a fast-paced narrative that will engage young adults in questions about their own lives and responsibilities to family, friends, and most of all, to themselves. He is the author of the acclaimed Mickey Rangel Series of bilingual mysteries for intermediate readers; the second bilingual novel, The Lemon Tree Caper / La intriga del limonero, was published in 2011 and the first, The Case of the Pen Gone Missing / El caso de la pluma perdida, was published in 2010 by Arte Público Press. He published Dancing with the Devil and Other Tales from Beyond / Bailando con el Diablo y otros cuentos del más allá, a bilingual collection of tales featuring supernatural elements rooted in Latino folklore, with Piñata Books in 2012. His other books include The Whole Sky Full of Stars (Random House, 2007), Finding Our Way: Stories (2003) and The Jumping Tree (Delacorte, 2001). He lives in Lubbock, Texas, where he teaches in the College of Education at Texas Tech University. – Arte Publico Press.


Tafolla headshot WEBSITECarmen Tafolla  is an author, poet, professor, and educational consultant with a wide-ranging and diverse career.  Born and raised in San Antonio, Tafolla’s early poems employed the bilingual idiom of the city’s westside. She has long been regarded as one of the masters of this type of poetic code-switching, as seen in Curandera (1983). In the 1970s, Tafolla was the head writer for “Sonrisas,” a pioneering bilingual television show for children. She was the first Chicana faculty member to direct a Chicano Studies Center in the U.S. (Texas Lutheran College, 1973).
Tafolla received her Ph.D. in Bilingual and Foreign Language Education from the University of Texas in 1982. In 1984 she published To Split a Human: Mitos, Machos, y la Mujer Chicana, an analysis of racism and sexism from a Chicana perspective. She has held a variety of faculty and administrative posts at universities throughout the Southwest, including Associate Professor of Women’s Studies at California State University at Fresno, and Special Assistant to the President for Cultural Diversity / Visiting Professor of Honors Literature at Northern Arizona University. She currently teaches in the Bilingual/Bicultural Studies Department at the University of Texas at San Antonio. HBO’s “Habla Texas” series featured Dr. Tafolla, along with other important Latino politicians, musicians, educators, filmmakers, writers, and artists. Dr. Tafolla currently lives in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband, Dr. Ernesto M. Bernal, her daughter, Carmen’s mother, three cats, a dog, and a multitude of manuscripts, molcajetes, and books. In 1999, Tafolla was presented with one of her most cherished honors, the “Art of Peace Award” for writings which contribute to “peace, justice, and human understanding.” Tafolla also holds the title of San Antonio’s Poet Laureate. Her children’s titles include That’s Not Fair! Emma Tenayuca’s Struggle for Justice/ No es Justo: La lucha de Emma Tenayuca por la justicia (Wings Press, 2008), What Can You Do With a Rebozo? (Tricycle Press, 2008), What Can You Do With a Paleta? (Tricycle Press, 2009), Baby Coyote and the Old Woman (Wings Press, 2000). -Wings Press.


Duncan_Tonatiuh square Duncan Tonatiuh is the winner of the prestigious Pura Belpré Award. Born and raised in Mexico, he attended school in the United States. He divides his time between San Miguel Allende, Mexico, and New York City. Tonatiuh’s children’s titles include Dear Primo (Abrams 2010), Diego Rivera: His World and Ours (Abrams 2011), Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale (Abrams 2013). Tonatiuh’s forthcoming title, Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation (Abrams), will be out May 6, 2014. – Abrams.






Cynthia Weill websiteCynthia Weill holds a doctorate in education from Teachers College Columbia University. She has worked as an educator and in the field of international development. She has been fascinated with Oaxacan crafts since 1996 when she taught in Mexico through the Fulbright exchange. She is on the board of the Friends of Oaxacan Folk Art Foundation whose mission is to promote and preserve the artists and artisanal work of the state. She has published five books that feature the folk art of Oaxaca. – Cinco Puntos Press.






Thanks to major sponsor Target for making Reading Rock Stars in the Rio Grande Valley possible.