Thursday, May 8, 2008

Americas Award and the secret

The America’s Award announced its 2008 winners, honors and commendations. The picture book winner is none other that one of my favorite productions of last year: Yum! Mmm! Que Rico! America’s Sproutings, by Pat Mora, illustrated by Rafael López. I have already ordered the novel winner, Red Glass, by Laura Resau.

I did get an announcement too. And announcement that was first a secret. Here are the specifics:

The keeper of the secret: Dr. Jamie Campbell Naidoo, organizers of the USC’s first Annual Celebration of Latino children’s Literature, and –and unknowingly to me a member of the Americas Award 2008 committee.

What I was doing: I was minding my own business sittin in one of the front rows. I was the closing keynote speaker.

Witnesses: conference attendees including speakers Dr. Katie G. Short and Lucia Gonzalez plus about 300 people who came to this first-time incredible conference in South Carolina.

How the secret was revealed: Jamie introduced the conference, welcomed the attendees, and then proceeded to announced that they had held an announcement until that morning, so that he could let me know in person that Little Night had been selected as an Americas Honor book.

My reaction: “viva!”

Here is the complete winner’s list

Friday, May 2, 2008


Abuela doesn’t want to be called abuela, instead she wants to be called Mamá. Mamacita if you are afraid of her.

Even thought her husband the indio soldier already died, Mamacita still runs the house like military barracks. She shouts orders to her hijos and hijas, to the entenada who is nothing to her but lives in the house since her mother gave her away as a child, to her brother with sombrero, to the service girls who never go home, to the daughter-in-law who goes home only sometimes if she is granted permission, to the parrot before it got eaten by a rat, to the dog Loba tied on the roof, to the chayote plants growing wild in the garden. Mamacita, bellowing with the big drum of her belly, likes to give orders, and the house obeys.

This house, long like a chorizo, smells like carnitas fraying in the stove and candles lighting the Niño Jesus inside a glass box above her bed. But when Mamacita unties her braids at night, tired of giving orders all day long, what she longs for is the dusty smell of soldado indio. The bed feels so lonely since he left. The only thing her cama is good for now is turning around at night and for dreaming—dreaming that she is a child again and people call her Jirafa, giraffe with her long neck rising her eyes above the coffee fields where she works carrying sacks with the strength of a man. To Mamacita the world beyond looks misty and smell like pork.

But Mamacita stopped dreaming a long time ago. So long ago that her old birthday has already arrived and people now call her a pajarito; a little bird with her gray feather plastered to her skin and her hooked beak dipping weakly to the ground. Yet Mamacita likes birthdays almost as much as she likes giving orders, so shaking the flimsy feathers of her wings, she celebrate her pajarito birthday giving more orders. She is almost turning a 100, so her orders are a wish. With faint chirps that take her breath away, as the candles die out, she asks that the day comes for her to sleep with her soldado indio again. And like everyone else, the days obey.

Hermia Fuentes Viuda de Morales
Mach 22, 1914- May 2, 2008