2016 Rio Grande Valley Reading Rock Stars Authors

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The Texas Book Festival brings books to life with its Reading Rock Stars outreach program. Reading Rock Stars brings authors and illustrators from all across the nation to present their picture books, novels, and poetry to Title I schools in Texas.  After the author and illustrator presentations, each young reader receives their very own autographed book. For many students, this is the first book they will own. The Texas Book Festival also donates a set of the books for their school’s library.

The Texas Book Festival aims to ensure that all children have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits and wonders of reading. Reading Rockstars has been in place for fifteen years, and has given over 65,000 books to economically disadvantaged students across the state. Help the Texas Book Festival jumpstart a child’s home library by donating to the Reading Rock Stars program.

On March 3 – 4, an exciting lineup of ten authors will present their works to elementary school students in our Rio Grande Valley Reading Rock Stars Program.

Diane Gonzales Bertrand

Diane Gonzales Bertrand is a writer of many bilingual children’s books about Latino life. She is the author of award-winning picture books Sip, Slurp, Soup, Soup/Caldo, Caldo, Caldo and Family, Familia, The Last Doll, Empanadas Abuela Made, and more. She is published by Arte Publico Press in Houston, Texas.



Monica BrownMonica Brown

The Texas Book Festival is happy to have Monica Brown, PhD, returning for another year with Reading Rockstars! She is the author of award-winning children’s books Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/Marisol McDonald no combina, Waiting for the Biblioburro, and Maya’s Blanket/La manta de Maya. Her Lola Levine chapter book series from Little Brown Co. debuted in November 2015 with Lola Levine is not Mean!, and the third installment, Lola Levine and the Ballet Scheme, will hit shelves in July 2016.




Nathan Hale -- Photo Small

Nathan Hale

Nathan Hale is an author and illustrator of children’s books. He is the author and illustrator of his own bestselling graphic novel series, Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales, in which he depicts real historical events and characters to his young readers. His newest installment in the series, Alamo All-Stars, is expected to be published in Spring 2016. He has also illustrated graphic novels Rapunzel’s Revenge and Calamity Jack, its sequel, along with A Dinosaur’s Night Before Christmas and many more.



Nikki Loftin

Nikki Loftin is the author of Wish Girl, The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy, and Nightingale’s Nest, chosen as the best children’s book in 2014 by the Texas Institute of Letters. She lives and writes just outside Austin, Texas, surrounded by dogs, goats, chickens, and rambunctious boys. www.nikkiloftin.com




James Luna

James Luna is an elementary school teacher in Riverside, California. He has written two bilingual picture books for children, The Place Where You Live / El lugar donde vives (Piñata Books, 2015), and The Runaway Piggy / El cochinito fugitivo (Piñata Books, 2010), which was named to the 2011-2012 Tejas Star Reading List. A Mummy in Her Backpack / Una momia en su mochila (Piñata Books, 2012) is his first bilingual book for intermediate readers.




Scieszka_JonJon Scieszka

Scieszka is the creator of Trucktown and the author of The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!, the Time Warp Trio series, Caldecott Honor Book The Stinky Cheese Man, and many other books that inspire kids to want to read. He has worked as an elementary school teacher and is the founder of a literacy initiative for boys (http://www.guysread.com/). The Library of Congress named him the inaugural National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.


Carmen Tafolla
Carmen Tafolla 

Dr. Carmen Tafolla is a poet, storyteller, performance artist, motivational speaker, and university professor. Tafolla was named the 2015 Poet Laureate of the State of Texas. Chosen in 2012 as the first Poet Laureate of the City of San Antonio, she presented at more than 300 schools, universities, professional conferences, and community arts centers in her two-year tenure. Tafolla has received numerous awards, including the prestigious Americas Award, five International Latino Book Awards, two Tomas Rivera Book Awards, two ALA Notable Books, a Charlotte Zolotow Award, the Art of Peace Award, Top Ten Books for Babies, and has been recognized by the National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies for work which “gives voice to the peoples and cultures of this land.”



Matt Tavares 

Matt Tavares is the author-illustrator of Henry Aaron’s Dream, There Goes Ted Williams, Becoming Babe Ruth, and Growing Up Pedro, as well as Zachary’s Ball, Oliver’s Game, and Mudball. He is the illustrator of ’Twas the Night Before Christmas, Over the River and Through the Wood, Lady Liberty by Doreen Rappaport, The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup, and Jubilee! by Alicia Potter. Matt Tavares lives in Ogunquit, Maine.




Weinberg-StevenSteven Weinberg

Steven Weinberg , author of You Must Be This Tall, also illustrated and wrote his debut children’s picture book, Rex Finds an Egg! Egg! Egg!, and a biographical travelogue, To Timbuktu: Nine Countries, Two People, One True Story. He has illustrated a new book, beard Boy, which will hit shelves this May. Weinberg also works on a variety of other creative projects including murals, cartoons, and paintings. He lives in the Catskills, where he operates a small hotel and bar with his wife.