UA Americas Award Book Fair Features Latino Children's Authors

Lori Harwood
April 2, 2004

The University of Arizona Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) will host an event for Tucson teachers, librarians, K–12 students and their parents. The Américas Award Book Fair and Author Event features two dynamic Latino children's authors, Juan Felipe Herrera and Jorge Argueta.

The event is Saturday, April 24, at the UA BookStore with a reading from 10 a.m. to noon, and a book signing from noon to 1 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Teachers and librarians are especially invited to attend. The UA BookStore is located in the Student Union Memorial Center.

The Américas Award annually recognizes English or bilingual books for children and young adults, published during the previous year in the United States, and portraying sensitive and authentic themes about Latin America, the Caribbean and Latinos in the United States. The award, like the Newberry and Caldecott Medals, is recognized by librarians and language teachers as a sign of literary and artistic merit.

The event will connect the authors and their work with teachers, librarians and students, and will raise awareness of the vibrant and growing field of Latino children's literature. Children's literature is a natural avenue for educators to broaden cultural horizons and enhance language skills with children and young adults.

A central objective of the Center for Latin American Studies, which is recognized and supported by a Title VI grant from the U.S. Department of Education, is to serve K-12 teachers and students. The center offers a listserv and regular workshops for educators, a curriculum resource center accessible through their Web site, and a video library, to help educators infuse Latin American themes into their curricula.

Other UA departments and colleges contributing to this event include the colleges of Humanities, Education and Social and Behavioral Sciences, the UA Foundation, the Poetry Center, Southwest Center, Mexican American Studies and Research Center, the English department's writing program, the department of Spanish and Portuguese, the department of language, reading and culture and their Children's Literature Program, the School for Information Resources and Library Science, the UA Bookstore, and the UA Press.

The UA Poetry Center also will host a poetry reading by Herrera on Friday, April 23, at 8 p.m. in the Modern Languages Auditorium.

About the authors and their Américas Award Book
Juan Felipe Herrera is a nationally recognized poet whose first children's book, "Calling the Doves," won the Ezra Jack Keats Award. A sequel, "The Upside-Down Boy," was a selection for the Texas Blue Bonnet Master List and a Smithsonian Notable Book for Children. A third story, "Grandma and Me at the Flea," came out in 2002 to rave reviews. Herrera also won the Latino Hall of Fame Poetry Award for 2000 and 2002. He lives with his family in Fresno, Calif., and loves the color green "because it's the color of emerald, oceans and cilantro."

Américas Award: "Crashboomlove: A Novel In Verse" (Award 1999)
This carefully crafted, hard-hitting novel is a series of prose poems in the voice of 16-year-old César García. As a working-class Chicano teen, sensitive to the inequities he sees on a daily basis, García struggles - not always successfully - to resist the peer pressure that defines adolescence. Like most teens, he seeks acceptance by self-destructive friends, but eventually finds the strength to not let others define him as he becomes an adulthood. Herrera's inventive use of language uses imagery that holds true to adolescent experience. This powerful novel will especially resonate with teens who feel they don't belong, no matter who or where they are.

Jorge Argueta is a prize-winning poet and teacher. Born in El Salvador, Argueta came to San Francisco in 1980. He is active in the cultural life of the city and teaches poetry in the public schools. He also works with humanitarian organizations to assist families and children in El Salvador. His first book for Children's Book Press, "A Movie in My Pillow/Una película en mi almohada," earned the 2002 Américas Award for Latin American Literature, the IPPY Award for Multicultural Fiction–Juvenile/Young Adults and the Skipping Stones Honor Award for Multicultural & International Books.

Américas Award: "A Movie in My Pillow" (Award 2002)
The story of a young boy with two homelands and a delightful sense of wonder comes to life in Jorge Argueta's first collection of poems for children. Young Jorgito lives in San Francisco's Mission District, but he hasn't forgotten the volcanoes, the tasty cornmeal pupusas and his grandmother's stories in his native El Salvador. Growing from timid newcomer to seasoned city dweller, Jorgito's memories and new adventures form a patchwork of dreams - the movie in his pillow - that is perfectly suited to his new bicultural identity. The lines of the story capture the pleasures and difficulties of living in each country and the sense of being a child in the city.

Extra info


Am ricas Award Book Fair and Author Event


UA BookStore, Student Union


Saturday, April 24, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.


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Free and open to the public