Help Us Bring Reading Rock Stars to El Paso

The Texas Book Festival’s Reading Rock Stars program is a hands-on literacy initiative that sends nationally recognized authors into Title I schools in Texas to inspire young readers with dynamic presentations and send them home with the most empowering experience of all – owning their very own book. The Texas Book Festival funds and coordinates the author visits and donates the books to the children as well as a set of books to each school’s library.

We are excited to bring this program to El Paso elementary students!

Please consider making a gift to help us bring Reading Rock Stars to El Paso for the 2022-23 school year.

Mail donations to:

Texas Book Festival
1023 Springdale Road
Building 14, Suite B
Austin, Texas 78721

Contact the Texas Book Festival office with any questions: 512-477-4055, development@texasbookfestival.org.

Reading Rock Stars Dallas & Fort Worth

On March 24 and 25, the Texas Book Festival returns to the Dallas-Fort Worth area to visit six elementary schools as part of the Festival’s annual Reading Rock Stars program. Throughout the two days, ten nationally-acclaimed children’s authors will visit each school and present to students, a culmination of weeks of each school’s preparation for the program. Additionally, TBF will gift each student a copy of the visiting author’s book.

TBF will donate 2,400 books to classrooms at Frank Guzick Elementary School, NW Harllee Elementary School, Dr. MLK Jr. Arts Academy, Meadowbrook Elementary School, Van Zandt-Guinn Elementary School, and BJ Elliott Elementary School.

With this latest round of Reading Rock Stars, the Texas Book Festival will have given more than 133,000 books to students in elementary schools across Texas since the program’s inception.

The Texas Book Festival’s Reading Rock Stars literacy program brings books to life for children in elementary schools by inviting authors and illustrators into classrooms with entertaining presentations that inspire students to read, write, and create. Thanks to generous support from sponsor H-E-B and many individual donors, the Texas Book Festival gives each student an autographed copy of their author’s book and provides the school library with a new set of books by the visiting Reading Rock Stars authors. After each presentation, the author personally hands an autographed copy of their book to each student.

Get to know the authors and their books:

Raúl the Third is the Pura Belpré Award-winning author-illustrator of ¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat, ¡Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market and the rest of the World of ¡Vamos! series. He is also the Pura Belpré Award-winning illustrator of Lowriders to the Center of the Earth, written by Cathy Camper. Raúl was born in El Paso, Texas, and grew up going back and forth between El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, México. He now lives in Boston, Massachusetts, with his collaborator and fellow artist, Elaine Bay, and their son, Raúl the Fourth.

Website: raulthethird.com Twitter: @raulthe3rd Instagram: @raulthethird.info


¡Vamos! Let’s Cross the Bridge

A 2021 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Book

Little Lobo and Bernabé are back in this joyful story about coming together and celebrating community, a lively follow-up to ¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat, by Pura Belpré Medal-winning illustrator Raúl the Third.

People are always crossing the bridge for work, to visit family, or for play. Some going this way; others going that way. Back and forth they go. With friends on foot and on bicycles, in cars and trucks, the bridge is an incredibly busy place with many different types of vehicles.

Little Lobo and his dog Bernabé have a new truck and they are using it to carry party supplies over the bridge with their pals El Toro and La Oink Oink. The line is long and everyone on the bridge is stuck. How will they pass the time? Eventually, everyone comes together for an epic party on the bridge between two different countries. Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go get a Mexican-American makeover in this joyful story about coming together.


Don Tate is an award-winning author and the illustrator of numerous critically acclaimed books for children. He is also one of the founding hosts of the blog The Brown Bookshelf – a blog designed to push awareness of the myriad of African American voices writing for young readers, with book reviews, author and illustrator interviews. Don frequently speaks at schools, public libraries, and writing conferences, and participates in book festivals.

Pigskins to Paintbrushes

Pigskins to Paintbrushes is the inspiring story of Ernie Barnes, who defined himself on his own terms and pushed the boundaries of “possible,” from the field to the canvas. 

Young Ernie Barnes wasn’t like other boys his age. Bullied for being shy, overweight, and uninterested in sports like boys were “supposed” to be, he instead took refuge in his sketchbook, in vibrant colors, bold brushstrokes, and flowing lines. But growing up in a poor, Black neighborhood during the 1930s, opportunities to learn about art were rare, and art museums were off-limits because of segregation laws. Discouraged and tired of being teased, Ernie joined the school football team. Although reluctant at first, he would soon become a star. But art remained in Ernie’s heart and followed him through high school, college, and into the NFL. Ernie saw art all around him: in the dynamic energy of the game, the precision of plays, and the nimble movement of his teammates. He poured his passion into his game and his craft and became famous as both a professional athlete and as an artist whose paintings reflected his love of the sport and celebrated Black bodies as graceful and beautiful.


Deliberately walking through the intersection of Hip Hop, education, and spirituality, Bavu Blakes is an educator, a servant–leader, and an award-winning musician. He is a curriculum & instruction specialist whose facilitation of teaching & learning via writing, reading, listening, and speaking extends beyond classrooms to out of school & after school programs, school & community assemblies, district professional learning sessions, conventions, national education conferences, and concert venues, as well as workshops & events serving youth, men, teens, families, and faith communities. Accordingly, Austin mayor Steve Adler proclaimed April 23, 2015, as Bavu Blakes Day to a capacity crowd at City Hall. 

El, I mean Ellison Blakes, is a scientist, pianist, researcher, athlete and baller, gaming lover and designer, sportswriter, and author. After Mama’s prediction (with a wink) came true, Dad started helping him create El’s Mirror. He still goes to the school up the street from the big house full of books and art on the West side of the South.

El’s Mirror

“When I look in the mirror, I see somebody who kind of looks like me…” Young El starts kindergarten with high expectations for his school experience. Unexpected challenges force him to learn from other people’s mistakes. El’s family, and a few familiar faces, help him find his way. He even starts to understand the world by looking at himself. You are welcome to this realistic journey through everyday children’s stories where objects in the mirror are closer than they appear. Welcome to El’s Mirror, an upper elementary picture book and a reflective tool for families, parents, mentors, leaders, and educators of children.



Named State Poet Laureate of Texas in 2015, Dr. Carmen Tafolla is an award-winning poet and children’s author, storyteller, performance artist, motivational speaker, scholar, and university professor. The author of more than 30 books and a Professor of Transformative Children’s Literature at UT San Antonio, she holds a Ph.D. in Bilingual Education from the University of Texas and a B.A., M.A., and a Doctorate Honoris Causa in Humane Letters from Austin College. Dr. Tafolla has performed her one-woman show throughout the Americas, Europe, and New Zealand, and her work appears internationally in textbooks, newspapers, journals, magazines, elementary school Big Books & posters on city buses, and engraved on sidewalks and museum walls. Dr. Tafolla credits the community around her with her inspiration and her training, and says her works are inspired by “ancestors whispering over my shoulder.”

I’ll Always Come Back to You

I might have to visit a very sick friend or rescue a sinking canoe, but I will always, always, always come back to you! What happens when someone you love heads out the door? When a mother goes out to work and her daughter stays behind, Mom reassures her child that nothing can keep her from coming back home again. Mom promises that she would even ride on a whale or fight off a passel of bears if that’s what it takes to return to her child! Her daughter might have to wait with Gramma or a friend at home. Whether their time apart has been long or short, the family will be together again.

This humorous and touching book reminds young readers that distance cannot diminish love. Perfect for children struggling with separation anxiety or a change in family life, this book represents a parent’s promise that they will be back, no matter what! Reassuring rhyme and amusing illustrations create a story to cherish when loved ones have gone away—and also when they’ve come back at last.


Elisa Chavarri is the illustrator of numerous books for children, including Rainbow Weaver/Tejedora del Arcoiris and  Federico and the Wolf. Originally from Lima, Peru, she did much of her growing up in Northern Michigan where she now resides with her husband and two small children whose little hands she loves to hold.

I’ll Hold Your Hand

This sweet picture book celebrates the unbreakable bond of a parent’s support for a child through life’s milestones, from learning to walk to the first day of school and all the highs and lows in between. From the night you arrive to your first night away, from learning to crawl to healing a broken heart, and for all the highs and lows in between. . .through every season, every challenge, and every joy, you are loved. With sweet, lyrical text and stunning art, I’ll Hold Your Hand celebrates the unbreakable bond of family and all the ways our actions can say “I love you” louder than words.


Chris Barton is the author of many picture books including the award-winning What Do You Do with a Voice Like That?: The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara JordanNew York Times bestseller Shark vs. Train, Sibert Honor-winning The Day-Glo Brothers, and Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List books The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch and Whoosh!. He visits schools by the score and also loves speaking to professional gatherings of librarians, educators, and his fellow writers. Chris and his wife, novelist Jennifer Ziegler, live in Austin, Texas, with their family. For more information about Chris, please visit ChrisBarton.info.

How to Make a Book About My Dog

How do you make a picture book? Well, you need an author, an illustrator, and . . . a dog?! Acclaimed author Chris Barton and his trusty pooch Ernie show readers how to make a nonfiction picture book . . . about Ernie! From coming up with ideas, researching, and writing the first draft to find the perfect illustrator, deciding what goes on the cover, and getting every last word just right, you’ll see how a book is made from beginning to end.  

From acquisitions and editing to graphic design and dog treats, find out what’s required to bring a book to life. This title perfectly blends how-to and humor for an informative look at book publishing. And look, this is part of the marketing step!


Jennifer Ziegler is the author of several novels for young and young-at-heart readers, including Worser, Revenge of the Flower Girls, and How Not to Be Popular. She also serves as faculty co-chair of Vermont College of Fine Arts’ MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. A native Texan of Mexican American heritage, Jennifer lives in Austin with her husband (and favorite author), Chris Barton, and their boss, a terrier mix named Ernie. When not teaching or creating books, Jennifer loves to visit schools, festivals, and conferences to lead workshops and presentations, urging readers and writers to recognize their own powers and use them for good.

Worser

A lover of logic, words, and grammar, 12-year-old William Wyatt Orser acquired the annoyingly ungrammatical nickname “Worser” so long ago that few people at school know to call him anything else. Nor do they know about his Masterwork—an epic lexicon of words he’s carefully collected over the years.

When his widowed mother suffers a debilitating stroke that leaves her unable to speak, Worser’s world is completely upended. His aunt moves in along with her cats, art projects, loud music, and bright clothes, and home is not the refuge it once was.

Feeling lost, lonely, and overwhelmed, Worser searches for a new sanctuary just as the Literary Club run by his favorite classmate, Donya Khoury, needs a place as well. Worser finds a used bookstore that opens its doors to all of them, and he discovers—much to his surprise—that the key to making friends is for him to open up, too. Gradually, he finds himself sharing his thoughts, feelings, and sense of humor—and even pages of his treasured Masterwork.

But when change threatens his new refuge, Worser’s grief and frustration lead him to react in an extreme and destructive way, and he must make peace with the fact that nothing stays the same forever. In the end, it is up to Worser to turn the page on his own story.


Angela Shanté is the award-winning author of The Noisy Classroom, a picture book that she wrote about her third-grade classroom to help soothe childhood anxiety associated with school and change. In the classroom, she taught emergent learners through college; specializing in literacy and curriculum development. After leaving the classroom Angela worked in publishing for traditional and educational publishers as an Editor, Children’s Book Acquisition Editor and Consultant. With one leg in education and the other in the creative world, Angela divides her time around her passion (1) advocating for more diversity in publishing, (2) working as an educational consultant,  (3) running Sunday Dinner Publishing, and (4) hosting the podcast First-Generation Problems. Angela currently lives in Southern California with her husband and dog (Blue).

When My Cousins Come to Town

Voted BEST KIDS BOOK OF 2021 by NYC Public Library! A fun, lively story of Black family and cousin culture that celebrates individuality and embraces differences. Fitting in can be hard, but standing out isn’t easy either!

Every summer a young girl eagerly waits for her cousins to come visit and celebrate her birthday. All her cousins are unique in their own ways and have earned cool nicknames for themselves… except for the girl. But this year things are going to be different. This year before summer ends, she’s determined to earn her own nickname!

Filled with warmth, love, and laughter, When My Cousins Come to Town brings all the energy and love of a big family to prove that you don’t need to be anyone else to be special—just the way you are is exactly right!


Lyla Lee is an author of books for children and young adults. In addition to the Mindy Kim series, she is the author of I’ll Be the One and the upcoming Flip the Script for teens. Born in South Korea, she’s since then lived in various parts of the United States, including California, Florida, and Texas. Inspired by her English teacher, she started writing her own stories in fourth grade and finished her first novel at the age of fourteen. After working in Hollywood and studying psychology and cinematic arts at the University of Southern California, she now lives in Dallas, Texas. When she is not writing, she is teaching kids or playing with her dog, Eiva the Siberian Husky.

Mindy Kim and the Trip to Korea

Fresh off the Boat meets Junie B. Jones in the adorable chapter book series following Mindy Kim, a young Asian American girl—in this fifth novel, Mindy goes to South Korea!

Mindy is super excited to go to South Korea to visit her grandparents! She has never taken such a big trip before, and she can’t wait to see her family again. Plus, Dad’s girlfriend, Julie, is also going to meet the family for the first time.

Mindy and Julie decide to make a traditional Korean meal for the family as a thank-you for hosting. But after a few mishaps, Mindy fears they are cooking up a big disaster in the kitchen! Can Mindy and Julie make sure their meal passes the most important taste test of them all?

Thank you to Interabang Books for sponsoring our Reading Rock Stars in Dallas!

Reading Rock Stars Houston

On March 10, the Texas Book Festival returns to the Houston area to visit four elementary schools in Aldine and Humble as part of the Festival’s annual Reading Rock Stars program. Throughout the days, eleven nationally-acclaimed children’s authors will visit each school and present to students, a culmination of weeks of each school’s preparation for the program. Additionally, TBF will gift each student a copy of the visiting author’s book.

TBF will donate more than 2,000 books to classrooms at Wilson Elementary School, Thompson Elementary School, Harris Elementary School, and Magrill Primary School.

With this latest round of Reading Rock Stars, the Texas Book Festival will have given more than 133,000 books to students in elementary schools across Texas since the program’s inception.

The Texas Book Festival’s Reading Rock Stars literacy program brings books to life for children in elementary schools by inviting authors and illustrators into classrooms with entertaining presentations that inspire students to read, write, and create. Thanks to generous support from sponsor H-E-B and many individual donors, the Texas Book Festival gives each student an autographed copy of their author’s book and provides the school library with a new set of books by the visiting Reading Rock Stars authors. After each presentation, the author personally hands an autographed copy of their book to each student.

Get to know the authors and their books:

Chris Barton is the author of many picture books including the award-winning What Do You Do with a Voice Like That?: The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara JordanNew York Times bestseller Shark vs. Train, Sibert Honor-winning The Day-Glo Brothers, and Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List books The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch and Whoosh!. He visits schools by the score and also loves speaking to professional gatherings of librarians, educators, and his fellow writers. Chris and his wife, novelist Jennifer Ziegler, live in Austin, Texas, with their family. For more information about Chris, please visit ChrisBarton.info.

How to Make a Book About My Dog How to Make a Book (About My Dog)

How do you make a picture book? Well, you need an author, an illustrator, and . . . a dog?! 

Acclaimed author Chris Barton and his trusty pooch Ernie show readers how to make a nonfiction picture book . . . about Ernie! From coming up with ideas, researching, and writing the first draft to find the perfect illustrator, deciding what goes on the cover, and getting every last word just right, you’ll see how a book is made from beginning to end.  

From acquisitions and editing to graphic design and dog treats, find out what’s required to bring a book to life. This title perfectly blends how-to and humor for an informative look at book publishing. And look, this is part of the marketing step! 


Varian Johnson is the author of several novels for children and young adults, including The Parker Inheritance, which won both Coretta Scott King Author Honor and Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor awards; The Great Greene Heist, an ALA Notable Children’s book and Kirkus Reviews Best Book; and the graphic novel Twins, illustrated by Shannon Wright, an NPR Best Book.

Varian was born in Florence, South Carolina, and attended the University of Oklahoma, where he received a BS in Civil Engineering. He later received an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is honored to now be a member of the faculty. Varian lives outside of Austin, TX with his family.

Playing the Cards You’re Dealt

Ten-year-old Anthony Joplin has made it to double digits! Which means he’s finally old enough to play in the spades tournament every Joplin Man before him seems to have won. So while Ant’s friends are stressing about fifth-grade homework and girls, Ant only has one thing on his mind: how he’ll measure up to his father’s expectations at the card table.

Then Ant’s best friend gets grounded, and he’s forced to find another spades partner. And Shirley, the new girl in his class, isn’t exactly who he has in mind. She talks a whole lot of trash — way more than his old partner. Plus, he’s not sure that his father wants him to play with a girl. But she’s smart and tough, pretty, and knows every card trick in the book. So Ant decides to join forces with Shirley — and keep his plans a secret.

Only it turns out secrets are another Joplin Man tradition. And his father is hiding one so big it may tear their family apart…


Xavier Garza is a prolific author, artist, and storyteller whose work focuses primarily on his experiences growing up in the small border town of Rio Grande City. He graduated from the University of Texas-Pan American in 1994 with a BFA in Art and has exhibited his art and performed his stories in venues throughout the United States. He is the author of Rooster Joe and the Bully / El Gallo Joe y el abusón (Piñata Books, 2016), The Donkey Lady Fights La Llorona and Other Stories / La señora Asno se enfrenta a la Llorona y otros cuentos (Piñata Books, 2015), Maximilian & The Mystery of the Guardian Angel: A Bilingual Lucha Libre Thriller (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011), Kid Cyclone Fights the Devil and Other Stories / Kid Ciclón se enfrenta a el Diablo y otras historias (Piñata Books, 2010), Zulema and the Witch Owl / Zulema y la Bruja Lechuza (Piñata Books, 2009), Charro Claus and the Tejas Kid (Cinco Puntos Press, 2008), Juan and the Chupacabras / Juan y el Chupacabras (Piñata Books, 2006), Lucha Libre: The Man in The Silver Mask: A Bilingual Cuento (Cinco Puntos Press 2005), and Creepy Creatures and Other Cucuys (Piñata Books, 2004). Xavier Garza lives with his family in San Antonio.

La Llorana Can’t Scare Me/La Llorona no me asusta

Little Damian is getting ready for bed, and the spooky monster called La Llorona is hollering up a storm outside his bedroom window. But he’s not afraid. “You can’t scare me, silly Llorona,” says Damian, “and neither can your monster friends!”

When evil-looking witch owls fly around his room and little green duendes, or goblins, make creepy noises under his bed, he’s still not frightened. Not even a little bit. The Donkey Lady, a chupacabras and even some little devils parade through his room, but Damian still isn’t afraid. A witch casting spells, a ghost rattling its chains, a cucuy with a burlap bag to catch him … nada. None of them can terrify brave little Damian. How can a little boy like him be so fearless?!?

No one knows it, but Damian has a secret weapon: a night light shaped like a mighty wrestler wearing a silver mask. When he plugs it in, its bright light terrifies all the monsters and sends them running for a place to hide! Touching on issues such as bedtime rituals and nighttime terrors, children ages 4-8 will enjoy this entertaining story that features creepy creatures familiar to many Hispanic kids.


Jasminne Mendez is a Dominican-American poet, playwright, translator, and award-winning author of several books for children and adults. She is the author of two hybrid memoirs, Island of Dreams (Floricanto Press) and Night-Blooming Jasmin(n)e: Personal Essays and Poetry (Arte Público Press). Her second YA memoir, Islands Apart: Becoming Dominican American (Arte Público Press) is forthcoming in May 2022 and her debut poetry collection, City Without Altar, was a finalist for the Noemi Press Book Award for Poetry and will be released in August 2022. Her debut middle grade book Anina del Mar Jumps In (Dial) is a novel in verse about a young girl diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis and is set to release in 2023. Her debut picture book Josefina’s Habichuelas (Arte Público Press), was released last year. She is represented by Stefanie Sanchez Von Bortsel at Full Circle Literary.

Josefina’s Habichuelas/Las habichuelas de Josefina

Like all kids, Josefina loves to eat sweets. She loves warm chocolate chip cookies right out of the oven, cupcakes and candy! One night, while eating a piece of flan, Mami asks her to consider giving up sweets for Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter. “That’s impossible!” Josefina says. When Mami promises to teach her how to make her favorite dessert, habichuelas con dulce, she agrees to give it a try.

Josefina can’t wait to end her fast and eat the delicious sweet cream beans, her family’s traditional Easter dessert. While she and her mom, tías, and abuela prepare the dish, they dance to merengue music and tell stories about life back in the Dominican Republic. The kitchen fills with the aromatic smells of cinnamon and sugar, but it’s the feelings of love and happiness Josefina will never forget. On Easter Sunday, when the family eats the special dessert she prepared, the girl’s grandmother proclaims, “It’s the best pot of habichuelas con dulce I’ve tasted in my life!”

This heart-warming, bilingual picture book for children shares a universal story all kids can relate to—learning about one’s culture through food, music, and family stories—while focusing on a cultural tradition specific to the Dominican Republic. As a bonus, the book includes the recipe for this special dessert—in both English and Spanish!



Anna Meriano grew up in Houston and graduated from Rice University with a degree in English, and earned her MFA in creative writing with an emphasis in writing for children from the New School in New York. There she met CAKE Literary founders Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra, who started her on the Love Sugar Magic journey. Anna has written three Love Sugar Magic books.

Love Sugar Magic: A Mixture of Mischief:

Anna Meriano’s unforgettable family of brujas returns for one more serving of amor, azúcar, and magia, in this breakout series that’s been called “charming and delectably sweet.” (Zoraida Córdova, award-winning author of the Brooklyn Brujas series)

It’s spring break in Rose Hill, Texas, but Leo Logroño has a lot of work to do if she’s going to become a full-fledged bruja like the rest of her family.

She still hasn’t discovered the true nature of her magical abilities, and that isn’t the only bit of trouble in her life: Her family’s baking heirlooms have begun to go missing, and a new bakery called Honeybees has opened across town, threatening to run Amor y Azúcar right out of business.

What’s more, everyone around her seems to have secrets, and none of them want to tell Leo what’s going on.

But the biggest secret of all comes when Leo is paid a very surprising visit—by her long-lost Abuelo Logroño. Abuelo promises answers to her most pressing questions and tells Leo he can teach her about her power, about what it takes to survive in a world where threats lurk in the shadows. But can she trust him?


Nidhi Chanani was born in Kolkata, India, and raised in California. She holds a literature degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She creates illustrations that capture love in everyday moments. In 2012 she was honored by the Obama Administration as a Champion of Change. Her illustrations are often featured at Disney Parks. She’s the author of the graphic novel PashminaShubh Raatri Dost/Good Night Friend, a bilingual board book; and illustrator of the picture book I Will Be Fierce. Nidhi draws and dreams in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and kid.What Will My Story Be? by Nidhi Chanani

What Will My Story Be?

From the creator of the critically acclaimed graphic novel Pashmina, comes a new picture book that encourages kids to be their most creative selves and to imagine all the places that their stories can take them.

After spending an afternoon listening to her aunties tell her stories from their pasts, a young girl ruminates on all of the tales that she can create using her imagination and begins to feel as if the possibilities for her future are endless. Filled with Nidhi Chanani’s signature vibrant illustrations, What Will My Story Be? is for anyone who finds inspiration in the quiet moments and cherishes the wisdom of the generations that came before them. Perfect for fans of Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal, Drawn Together by Minh Le and Dan Santat, and You Matter by Christian Robinson.


Nicholas Solis has been writing all of his life, starting with knock-off Encyclopedia Brown mysteries and oddly deep poetry for an 8-year-old. Since then, he’s continued to write picture books, travel blogs, teaching blogs, middle-grade novels, and poetry about farts (decidedly less deep). In 2018, he was the recipient of the Walter Dean Myers Grant from We Need Diverse Books, and in 2020 he was nominated for the 2020 Austin SCBWI Cynthia Leitich Smith Writing Mentor Award and was the winner of the Austin SCBWI’s 2020 Creators of Diverse Worlds Scholarship.

His debut author/illustrated book THE STARING CONTEST (Peter Pauper Press) was released September 23rd, 2020. MY TOWN, MI PUEBLO (Nancy Paulsen Books), and THE COLOR COLLECTOR (Sleeping Bear Press) are scheduled for 2021.

Nick is also an award-winning elementary teacher with a Master of Arts degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas and a Master of Arts degree in Educational Administration from Concordia University. He has traveled the world and taught students in Tanzania, India, and Morocco. From all of his travels he has learned one important lesson: No matter the circumstances, kids are kids. When he’s not traveling, he enjoys spending time with his wife, their dog, and his brand new baby boy in Austin, Texas.

He is an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and of 12X12. He is also a writing fellow at The Writing Barn.

He also came in second on Hollywood Game Night. Seeing as how there are only two contestants, you could also say he came in last. 

The Color Collector

The Color Collector is a poignant story about newness, friendship, and common ground. When a boy notices the new girl picking up all manner of debris and litter on their walks home from school he wants to know why. So she shows him the huge mural she’s created in her room that reminds her of the home she left behind. He learns all about where she’s come from and they both find how wonderful it is to make a new friend.


Named State Poet Laureate of Texas in 2015, Dr. Carmen Tafolla is an award-winning poet and children’s author, storyteller, performance artist, motivational speaker, scholar, and university professor.

The author of more than 30 books and a Professor of Transformative Children’s Literature at UT San Antonio, she holds a Ph.D. in Bilingual Education from the University of Texas and a B.A., M.A., and a Doctorate Honoris Causa in Humane Letters from Austin College.  Tafolla has performed her one-woman show throughout the Americas, Europe, and New Zealand, and her work appears internationally in textbooks, newspapers, journals, magazines, elementary school Big Books & posters on city buses, and engraved on sidewalks and museum walls. Tafolla credits the community around her with her inspiration and her training, and says her works are inspired by “ancestors whispering over my shoulder.”

A brave young butterfly, a small boy, and a dancing blue planet build a bond of love and hard work, drawing on the magic of their relationship. A delightful adventure into the migration of monarch butterflies, and the value of protecting those things we love, this touching story is told in simple but poetic language aimed at children from 5 to 99 and is beautifully illustrated with the rich colors of the Mexican forests where the monarchs head each winter.


Andrea Wang is an acclaimed author of children’s books. Her book Watercress was awarded the Caldecott Medal, a Newbery Honor, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, a New England Book Award, and a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor. Her other books, The Many Meanings of Meilan, Magic Ramen, and The Nian Monster, have also received awards and starred reviews. Her work explores culture, creative thinking, and identity. She is also the author of seven nonfiction titles for the library and school market. Andrea holds an M.S. in Environmental Science and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing for Young People. She lives in Colorado with her family.

The Many Meanings of Meilan

The Many Meanings of Meilan by Andrea Wang

Pure joy and the power of community radiate from this sweet picture book about a young Black girl’s perseverance and confidence in following her double Dutch dreams.

Africa’s grandmother was a double Dutch legend, and Africa knows she can become the same. Her brother scoffs when she signs up for a double Dutch competition, though—how can she hope to compete when she’s never done it before? But Africa has all the tools she needs: memories of her grandmother, her bestie Bianca’s dance moves, her friend Omar’s rhythm, and her classmates’ Mary Mack timing and cartwheels.

If Africa can pull everything together to jump some winning moves, she might just fly, but it’s the birthmark in the shape of her name that tells her she’s always been a winner.

Reading Rock Stars Rio Grande Valley

On March 3 and 4, the Texas Book Festival returns to the Rio Grande Valley to visit six elementary schools as part of the Festival’s annual Reading Rock Stars program. Throughout the two days, nine nationally-acclaimed children’s authors will visit each school and present to students, a culmination of weeks of each school’s preparation for the program. Additionally, TBF will gift each student a copy of the visiting author’s book.

TBF will donate 3,915 books to classrooms at Hurla M. Midkiff Elementary School, Bryan Elementary School, Guillermo Flores Elementary School, Enedina B. Guerra Elementary School, Cesar Chavez Elementary School, and Dr. R. E Margo Elementary.

With this latest round of Reading Rock Stars, the Texas Book Festival will have given more than 133,000 books to students in elementary schools across Texas since the program’s inception.

The Texas Book Festival’s Reading Rock Stars literacy program brings books to life for children in elementary schools by inviting authors and illustrators into classrooms with entertaining presentations that inspire students to read, write, and create. Thanks to generous support from sponsors—including H-E-B and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley—the Texas Book Festival gives each student an autographed copy of their author’s book and provides the school library with a new set of books by the visiting Reading Rock Stars authors. After each presentation, the author personally hands an autographed copy of their book to each student.

Get to know the authors and their books:

Jon Scieszka was born in Flint, Michigan on September 8, 1954. It was a Wednesday. Right around lunchtime.

He is the second-oldest, and nicest, of six Scieszka boys. No girls.

His mother, Shirley, worked as a registered nurse.

His dad, Louis, was an elementary school principal at Freeman Elementary.

His dad’s parents, Michael and Anna, came to America from Poland. “Scieszka” is a word in Polish. It means “path.”

Steven Weinberg

I write and illustrate kids’ books about mutants fixing climate change, being a middle kid, chainsaws, beards, roller coasters, and dinosaurs. And I paint landscapes and fish, too. Basically all the fun stuff.

My books have been called “Brilliant” by Dave Pilkey, “thrillingly shameless” by the NY Times, “guaranteed to fuel read-aloud energy” by Publisher’s Weekly. They have won awards such as the Virginia Reader’s Choice Award (YOU MUST BE THIS TALL) and the Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection (ASTRONUTS: MISSION ONE THE PLANT PLANET), and the best board book of 2021 by Parents Magazine (WASHER AND DRYER’S BIG JOB).

My art has been featured in The New York Times, on book covers, beer cans, in magazines like Gray’s Sporting Journal and Boys’ Life as well as being exhibited across the country.

I live in the Catskills with my wife Casey Scieszka, our daughters Amina and Felix, our dog Waldo, and our bed and bar called the Spruceton Inn (and Artist Residency!) that we all run together in the backyard.

3D-book-cover-MISSION-3-1400.jpgAstro-Nuts Mission Three: The Perfect Planet

In this final book in the series, the crew (AstroWolf, LaserShark, SmartHawk, and StinkBug) must find a planet fit for human life before it’s too late.

So when they land on a place called “the perfect planet” their mission sounds way too easy. However, they quickly discover they’re dealing with the most dangerous specifies of all time . . . humans!? The AstroNuts have to work fast to convince the humans to risk death for the sake of their own lives!


Diana Lopez

Diana López is the author of the adult novella Sofia’s Saints and numerous middle-grade novels, including Confetti GirlNothing Up My Sleeve and Lucky Luna. Her debut picture book, Sing With Me: The Story of Selena Quintanilla, is available in English and Spanish. She also wrote the novel adaptation for the Disney/Pixar film Coco. Diana retired after a 28-year career in education at the middle grade and college levels, but she enjoys meeting with students when she visits schools to chat about books and writing. She lives in her hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas.

Sing with Me: The Story of Selena Quintanilla by Diana López

Sing with Me: The Story of Selena Quintanilla:

An exuberant picture book celebrating the life and legacy of Selena Quintanilla, beloved Queen of Tejano music.

From a very early age, young Selena knew how to connect with people and bring them together with music. Sing with Me follows Selena’s rise to stardom, from front-lining her family’s band at rodeos and quinceañeras to performing in front of tens of thousands at the Houston Astrodome. Young readers will be empowered by Selena’s dedication–learning Spanish as a teenager, designing her own clothes, and traveling around the country with her family–sharing her pride in her Mexican-American roots and her love of music and fashion with the world.


Raquel Ortiz

Raquel’s book Broken Butterfly Wings: Alas de mariposa rotas tells the story of a girl who wants to be a great dancer but she feels she can’t get anything right. Then, when she feels the beat of the drums, she loses herself in the music.

Raquel was born and raised in Lorain, Ohio. She is the author of two other bilingual picture books: Sofi and the Magic, Musical Mural / Sofi y el mágico mural musical (Arte Público Press, 2015) and Sofi Paints Her Dreams / Sofi pinta sus sueños (Piñata Books, 2019). She has worked at The Brooklyn Museum, the Allen Memorial Art Museum and El Museo del Barrio. Currently, she creates educational material for the Puerto Rican Heritage Cultural Ambassadors Program at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York City.

Broken Butterfly Wings: Alas de mariposa rotas:

Gabriela is super excited when her gift from Titi Sylvia finally arrives. She loves the colorful, glittery butterfly wings! She stands in the middle of her room and flaps and flaps her new wings, but nothing happens. She jumps off her bed, vigorously moving the wings up and down, but again, nada. She hops down the hallway and the stairs, but she still can’t fly!

Disappointed, Gabriela goes to the garage, digs into her father’s toolbox, and sets about trying to fix the broken butterfly wings. Maybe she can add a battery or an engine. Her father has a better idea, though, and encourages her to close her eyes and think about where she would like to fly. Soon she is envisioning El Yunque, a rainforest on the island of Puerto Rico that is full of tall green trees, humming waterfalls, and chattering birds. She can even hear the coquí, a tiny tree frog that lives only on the island, singing its special song: coquí-coquí.

Demonstrating the joy found in using one’s imagination, this bilingual picture book depicts a young girl drawing on her senses—smell, hearing, sight—to return to a beloved place. Kids will appreciate the beauty of the rainforest’s birds, frogs, and other natural wonders while admiring a strong girl willing to create solutions to problems.


Victoria Castillo

Victoria is an illustrator and comic artist who has a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the University of North Texas. Her Colombian mother and Mexican father ensured that she was exposed to different cultures from an early age. She has traveled extensively, and those adventures taught her the importance of diversity. She credits her passion for languages and communication to these experiences. The illustrator of The Little Doctor / El doctorcito (Piñata Books, 2016), Victoria loves vibrant, expressive shapes and colors. She surrounds herself with books, toys, music, cartoons, and monsters of various forms and sizes for inspiration in her drawing, sculpting, and painting. She lives in Texas with her family and numerous dogs.

Luna Luminosa, Dónde Estás? / Luminous Moon, Where Are You?

Juanito looked outside one dark night and discovered the moon was nowhere to be seen! Where could it have gone? Is it hiding under the bed or behind a great mountain?

He wonders if the coyote took it to his lair, but the wily canine couldn’t catch the slippery moon. “Aaah-ooooooh, aaaah-ooooooh, aaaah-ooooooh,” he cries sadly. Maybe the cicada’s deafening screeches made it disappear! Or did the owl bewitch the luminous moon? Perhaps the frog drowned it in the lagoon! Could the fireflies’ bright lights have hidden its glow? Juanito just doesn’t know!

This charming story by Aracely De Alvarado introducing the phases of the moon to children is enlivened by Victoria Castillo’s bright, eye-catching illustrations depicting the nighttime sky and animals in their habitat.  Kids ages 4 – 8, and some adults too, will enjoy repeating the sounds animals make—in English and Spanish!


Anna Meriano

Anna Meriano grew up in Houston and graduated from Rice University with a degree in English, and earned her MFA in creative writing with an emphasis in writing for children from the New School in New York. There she met CAKE Literary founders Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra, who started her on the Love Sugar Magic journey. Anna has written three Love Sugar Magic books.

Love Sugar Magic: A Mixture of Mischief:

Anna Meriano’s unforgettable family of brujas returns for one more serving of amor, azúcar, and magia, in this breakout series that’s been called “charming and delectably sweet.” (Zoraida Córdova, award-winning author of the Brooklyn Brujas series)

It’s spring break in Rose Hill, Texas, but Leo Logroño has a lot of work to do if she’s going to become a full-fledged bruja like the rest of her family.

She still hasn’t discovered the true nature of her magical abilities, and that isn’t the only bit of trouble in her life: Her family’s baking heirlooms have begun to go missing, and a new bakery called Honeybees has opened across town, threatening to run Amor y Azúcar right out of business.

What’s more, everyone around her seems to have secrets, and none of them want to tell Leo what’s going on.

But the biggest secret of all comes when Leo is paid a very surprising visit—by her long-lost Abuelo Logroño. Abuelo promises answers to her most pressing questions and tells Leo he can teach her about her power, about what it takes to survive in a world where threats lurk in the shadows. But can she trust him?


Margarita EngleMargarita Engle

Margarita Engle is the Cuban American author of many books including the verse novels Rima’s RebellionYour Heart, My SkyWith a Star in My HandThe Surrender Tree, a Newbery Honor winner; and The Lightning Dreamer. Her verse memoirs include Soaring Earth and Enchanted Air, which received the Pura Belpré Award, a Walter Dean Myers Award Honor, and was a finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction, among others. Her picture books include Drum Dream GirlDancing Hands; and The Flying Girl. Visit her at MargaritaEngle.com.

A Song of Frutas:A Song of Frutas

From Pura Belpré Award-winning author Margarita Engle comes a lively, rhythmic picture book about a little girl visiting her grandfather who is a pregonero—a singing street vendor in Cuba—and helping him sell his frutas.

When we visit mi abuelo, I help him sell
frutas, singing the names of each fruit
as we walk, our footsteps like drumbeats,
our hands like maracas, shaking…

The little girl loves visiting her grandfather in Cuba and singing his special songs to sell all kinds of fruit: mangolimónnaranjapiña, 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.


 Angela Dominguez
Image of Angela Dominguez
Angela Dominguez was born in Mexico City and grew up in the great state of Texas. She now resides on the east coast with her boyfriend, Kyle, and their petite dog, Petunia. She is also the author and illustrator of several books for children and a two-time recipient of Pura Belpré Illustration Honor. Her debut middle-grade novel, Stella Díaz Has Something To Say, was a New York Public Library and a Chicago Public Library pick for Best Books for Kids, Sid Fleischman Award winner, and an ALA Notable. She recently illustrated Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s newest picture book, Just Help! How to Build a Better World. As a child, she loved reading books and making a mess creating pictures. She’s delighted to still be doing both.

Stella Díaz Dreams Big: Stella Díaz Dreams Big

In Stella Díaz Dreams Big, by award-winning author and illustrator Angela Dominguez, how will Stella fare when the waters get rough?

Stella is happy as a clam in fourth grade. She’s the president of the Sea Musketeers conservation club, she starts taking swim lessons, and she joins a new art club at school. But as her schedule fills up, school gets harder, too. Suddenly the tides have turned, and she is way too busy!

Stella will be in an ocean of trouble if she can’t keep her head above water. But with her trusty Sea Musketeers by her side, she hopes to make her big dreams come true!

Based on the author’s experiences growing up Mexican-American, this infectiously charming character comes to life through relatable storytelling including simple Spanish vocabulary and adorable black-and-white art.


Dr. David Bowles, UTRGV Assistant Professor in Literatures & Cultural Studies, on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019 at the Liberal Arts Building South in Edinburg, Texas. UTRGV Photo by Paul Chouy

David Bowles

David Bowles is a Mexican-American author from south Texas, where he teaches at the University of Texas Río Grande Valley. He has written several titles, most notably The Smoking Mirror (Pura Belpré Honor Book) and They Call Me Güero (Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, Claudia Lewis Award for Excellence in Poetry, Pura Belpré Honor Book, Walter Dean Myers Honor Book).

His work has also been published in multiple anthologies, plus venues such as Asymptote, Strange Horizons, Apex Magazine, Metamorphoses, Rattle, Translation Review, and the Journal of Children’s Literature.

In 2017, David was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters.

My Two Border Towns:My Two Border Towns by David Bowles

Journey to the Gala with Don Tate!

Last Friday, the Texas Book Festival hosted the annual First Edition Literary Gala at the Four Seasons Austin. The evening saw presentations from award-winning storytellers and friends of the Fest, including Carrie Fountain, Noah Hawley, Chang-Rae Lee, Elizabeth McCracken, and recipient of the 2021 Texas Writer Award, Don Tate! 

We are delighted to talk with Don about his experience leading up to the big event. Read more below to spend [a couple of days] in the life of critically acclaimed Children’s author and illustrator, Don Tate!

Journey to the Gala with Don Tate

I learned that I was selected as the 2021 Texas Writer Award recipient while checking emails on my iPhone, while I was at a restaurant drive-through window. The message came from Texas Book Festival Literary Director Matthew Patin, informing me about the award.

Matthew said: 

“Your prolific contribution to Texas letters, your lengthy TBF alum status, your tireless commitment to community engagement, awareness, and in-school programming, including with Reading Rock Stars and The Brown Bookshelf —the choice is a no-brainer, really. And from me, and on behalf of the TBF staff and board and Author Selection Committee, I’d be honored if you’d accept the award.”

Moonstruck, I sent this message back to Matthew: 

I’m reading this email from a Schlotsky’s drive-through window, ordering a jalapeño turkey sandwich, with a mask covering my face, and hoping my very dark sunglasses are hiding my now red misty eyes. How’s that for a visual, huh? Of course, yes! I accept! Coming from my beloved friends at the Texas Book Festival, I can’t think of a greater honor!!

I was thrilled to receive the news, but I was also baffled—and even a little embarrassed. Like a lot of creative people, I tend to suffer from Imposter Syndrome. It’s a feeling of self-doubt, like I’m not quite what others perceive me to be. Past winners included names like Attica Locke, Dan Rather, and Pat Mora.

I also realized I’d be the first Black man to receive the recognition. My anxiety jagged up a few more notches. Being the first of anything is exciting, of course. But it can also be heavy, especially when it’s a Black first. Would folks take their recognition of me seriously? Might folks think the award to be penance for some past oversight? Or, do I simply worry too much?

In time, I was able to post the news to my social networks. Hundreds of people responded with congratulations, saying, “You deserve this!”

I thought about what I had accomplished since I started my writing career in 2010. I thought about several other recent honors I’d received—the SCBWI Golden Kite, induction into the Texas Institute of Letters. I was ready to put all that worry aside. But I began to worry again. The award is presented at a fancy gala! And I don’t own a tux. On the afternoon of the gala, I posted this to social networks: 

“Tonight’s the night—the Texas Book Festival’s literary gala! And I’ve sweated the whole tux thing way too much. I don’t own one, and I did not want to splurge on a pricey rental. So, I got the $49.99 blue-light special—which is a fair-looking tux, but not one of the more modern, skinny-fit ones with the narrow legs that I’d prefer. It’s more high school awkward, but the sales team said that with my athletic build, I could pull it off. The other thing is that it’s a black-tie event—which, if you know me, I like to be different. So if everyone else is wearing black tuxes, I want to wear— don’t know—ripped jeans and chukka boots or something. Anyway, after two years of being mostly shut-in, it will be nice to get out and have some fun with my literary friends!”

Later that evening, I was in aflutter some more:

One half-hour before the festivities, and I’m Googling “How the hell do cuff links work?”

That night after, I posted this: 

“Oh, what a night! Book lovers, philanthropists, politicians, authors, librarians, poets—an audience of almost 500 people! They raised almost $110.000 in about ten minutes to support Texas libraries. Then, I accepted the Texas Book Festival’s Texas Author Award. Even got a standing ovation after my acceptance speech. So honored to be acknowledged by an organization that I love. And my $49.99 tux, it worked!”

Texas Book Festival Gala 2022 at the Four Seasons photos ©Bob Daemmrich Author program

And the next day, I posted more about the cool cowboy boots that came with the award: 

“I forgot to mention in my previous post, the recipient of the Texas Writer Award receives a nifty pair of handmade custom cowboy boots. They are made by Rocketbuster out of El Paso, Texas, and they are fine works of art.”

“The process of creating them was quite an amazing experience, too. First, they asked me to trace my foot on paper and take other measurements—which included my heels, the waist of my foot, my instep, and the ball of my foot. I had to measure my calves in two different places. As far as the boots, I selected the toe box shape, the medallion stitching design, the height and style of the heel.”


“Rocketbuster builds the boots from scratch, but I picked a basic catalog design and then customized them from there. The Texas Book Festival’s logo would go on the front, but there was also a space on the back to fill. I thought about what the Texas Book Festival has meant to me over the years. To me, it’s been about presenting to children under the Read Me a Story tent or giving children books during the Reading Rock Stars program. So, I created this piece of art that represented that.”

“As the artists at Rocketbuster created my boots, they texted images to me along the way—sketches of the boots, leather choices, stitching color. It was cool to see how they literally carved and painted my design into the boots. I think they turned out so great, but I’m afraid to actually wear them. I put them atop my bookcase!”

To sum this post up: I am proudly a writer. I am proudly a Texas Writer Award recipient. And now, I am the proud owner of my first hand-made-from-scratch cowboy boots!

 

Reading Rock Stars Austin 2021

This fall, Texas Book Festival hosted visits from twenty-two exciting authors with nine Title I elementary schools in the Austin area as part of our Reading Rock Stars program. During these highly-anticipated visits, students had the opportunity to hear from authors about their writing journeys and craft, listen to stories, and ask questions.

Children holding the book "The Color Corrector"

Texas Book Festival’s Reading Rock Stars program is a hands-on literacy initiative that sends nationally recognized authors into Title I schools in Texas to inspire young readers with dynamic presentations. With generous donations from our sponsors, Texas Book Festival funds and coordinates these author visits and provides copies of visiting authors’ books to children and to their school’s library. Since the program began, Texas Book Festival has provided more than 133,000 books to students and hosted 400+ author visits. Reading Rock Stars is currently partnered with schools in Austin, Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, and the Rio Grande Valley.

Author, Gloria Amescua, greeting student

students seated in library

Thank you to our Reading Rock Stars sponsors who provide books and author visits to thousands of children in Title I elementary schools throughout Texas!

Join us at Symphony Square!

Join us for a very special Family Day with the Texas Book Festival!

About this event
Please note: all attendees age 18+ must provide proof of vaccination (OR negative COVID test within 72 hours of event) to attend.

Schedule: Doors open at 10:00 am, please arrive early to go through the check in process.

Morning Story Time

10:00 AM – (EN ESPAÑOL) Mis dos pueblos fronterizos con David Bowles

10:45 AM – Storytime: The Old Boat with Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey

Fans of The Old Truck will love The Old Boat! This is a story of exploration, and this journey with a boy and his boat celebrates the beauty of nature and the family we make along the way.

11:30 AM – Storytime: El’s Mirror with Bavu Blakes

Do you remember how you were feeling on your very first day of school? In this story, El is about to start kindergarten when he faces some unexpected challenges. But with the help of his family, El will learn to find his way and begin to understand this new world around him.

12:15 PM – Storytime: The Color Collector with Nicholas Solis

One day a boy notices the new girl picking up all kinds of litter on her way home from school. Filled with curiosity, he asks her about it! She then shows him the mural in her room that shows the village she left behind, and he learns how the two of them can be alike and different at the same time, and how incredible it is to make new friends.

BREAK

Afternoon Story Time

1:45 PM – Storytime: My Two Border Towns with David Bowles

A boy travels across the US-Mexican border with his father to have a fun day eating their favorite foods, visiting family, and most importantly checking in with their friends seeking asylum. Come listen to author David Bowles discuss his own experiences crossing the border with his father as a small boy!

2:30 PM – Storytime: Pigskins to Paintbrushes with Don Tate

Have you ever felt super excited about two different things? So did Ernie Barnes. In this story, young Ernie feels different from kids his age, so he takes refuge in his art. But, trying to fit in, he joins the school football team, and that leads him to a professional football career! But Ernie never loses his passion for art. Come join Don Tate as he discusses the incredible true story of Ernie Barnes, who never lost sight of himself and kept chasing his dreams.

3:15 PM – Storytime: Slow Down, Tumbleweed! with Haven Iverson

Sometimes in our fast-paced world we can all feel a little bit like a tumbleweed—rolling, rolling, rolling in the wind. When Mabel the tumbleweed gets stuck on a fence one day, she learns how to sit in the stillness and observe the quiet around her. Join author Haven Iverson as she talks about how you can celebrate the beauty of the world right where you are, no matter how fast you’re moving.

4:00 PM – Storytime: The Larger-Than-Life Story of Texas Governor Ann Richards w. Meghan P. Browne

Before the world knew her as Ann Richards (in the past the governor of Texas!) she was Dorothy Ann Willis. As a teenager she found a love for serving her community, which led her all the way to the nation’s capital, where she learned about government and politics. Join author Meghan P. Browne as she reads from her book! And talks about this larger-than-life personality who was able to take on the “political boys’ club” to become both governor and an inspiration to countless others after her.

RVSP

Graphic Novel Reading for AAPI Heritage Month

This year for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I wanted to take the opportunity to suggest a few graphic novels created by Asian American cartoonists, authors, and illustrators. Last year, Nicole Wielga suggested some fantastic graphic novels written and/or illustrated by Asian American authors and artists, check it out!

This list is by no means exhaustive, and I haven’t included many genre or YA books, so please share your favorite comics or graphic novels penned by AAPI authors and artists on our Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. Without further ado, here are a few of my favorites to kick off the conversation…

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

A student recommended this book to me about 15 years ago, and it reintroduced me to the joy and power of storytelling in graphic novels. American Born Chinese challenges and satirizes Asian stereotypes, as three unique characters converge. Yang, a former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, also wrote Dragon Hoops, Boxers and Saints, and Animal Crackers, and many more! Check out Gene Luen Yang’s website.

 


Good Talk by Mira Jacob

I know that I’ve already recommended Good Talk, a funny, honest, and scathing graphic novel by Mira Jacob, but you cannot miss this. This book was inspired by conversations Jacob had with her son about racism, and delves into the art of the conversation that reveals so much about relationships, beliefs, and love. I also love her novel, The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing. More of Mira Jacob’s work and insight can be found on her website.

In recent days, Jacob has been drawing awareness to the healthcare and humanity crisis in India, and not only suggesting ways for us regular people to help but also holding accountable companies who have profited off Indian culture. Check out her Instagram for more information: https://www.instagram.com/goodtalkthanks/.


Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine

Adrian Tomine is amazingly prolific. You may have seen his New Yorker covers, Brooklyn Book Festival posters, Optic Nerve comics, and many books and collections. So if I just had to choose one, it was Shortcomings. It is funny, insightful, and quiet, and filled with the precise beautiful art that Tomine is known for. Check out Adrian Tomine’s website to look at the scope of his artwork.

 


This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

While this may technically be Young Adult, it is such an authentic story of adolescence, that is should strike notes of nostalgia for many readers. The coming-of-age story follows two friends as their annual summer vacation is a turning point in their lives, as they grapple with family, mental health, sexuality, and tragedy. This One Summer is illustrated by Jillian Tamaki and written by her cousin, Mariko Tamaki. More of Jillian Tamaki’s work can be found on https://www.jilliantamaki.com/ and check out Mariko Tamaki’s Twitter to check out her latest work and collaborations: https://twitter.com/marikotamaki.

 


Forget Sorrow: An Ancestral Tale by Belle Yang

In this memoir, Belle Yang finds solace and healing through her father’s stories of old China. The same stories that she dismissed as a child now give her strength in the wake of an abusive relationship.

Yang also has several children’s books, filled with her beautiful art: http://belleyang.com/childrens-books/.

Keep your kids inspired with our Summer Reading Choice Board

Summer is just around the corner and we are happy to share a reading choice board featuring our Reading Rock Stars authors.  We’ve got great book options for your little ones who love STEM,  fine arts, or history plus fun stories with yummy recipes to try at home. We didn’t forget about the big kids. The board also has middle grade options with topics sure to spark critical thinking in your future leaders. Stay tuned for more resources throughout this summer!