Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award

Unlike some ethnic book awards, the Rivera Award doesn't depend on the race of the author. It's given annually "to the author/illustrator of the most distinguished book for children and young adults that authentically reflects the lives and experiences of Mexican Americans in the United States."

This year, two books tied for the top honor (descriptions quoted verbatim from the official Rivera Award site):

The Holy Tortilla and a Pot of Beans
by Carmen Tafolla

In this wonderfully creative collection of sixteen short stories, Tafolla brings to life the bilingual/bicultural world of the Texas-Mexico border. As in her previous works, Tafolla celebrates the resilient human spirit of her characters amidst the prejudice and hypocrisy, the faith and magic, and the family, and community that are part of this world. The stories are poignant, even tragic, and they are funny, filled with humor. Tafolla’s energy is felt throughout. As Carmen herself says, “ It’s about those things that are really holy and miraculous, but it’s also about those very common, underappreciated blessings, like a homemade pot of beans.”

He Forgot to Say Goodbye
by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

In this carefully crafted novel, two high school boys develop an unlikely friendship despite their different upbringings. Ramiro Lopez has been raised in the Mexican American working class barrio of El Paso where his brother is lured into the world of drugs, while White Jake Upthegrove has lived in the rich West Side and has a problem managing his anger. Both boys have not known their fathers who abandoned their families early. Ramiro and Jake both come to enjoy and respect the loyal friendship of Alejandra a third strong teenager in this contemporary setting.