Tonatiuh, Quintero winners of 2015 Tomás Rivera Book Awards

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
May 12, 2015

Duncan Tonatiuh and Isabel Quintero have been named the 20th Anniversary Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award recipients for works published in 2013-14.

The award, established at Texas State University in 1995, is designed to encourage authors, illustrators and publishers to produce books that authentically reflect the lives of Mexican American children and young adults in the United States.

The awards will be presented Sept. 25-26 on the Texas State campus with 14 past winners in attendance. A conference celebrating the award's 20th anniversary will be held Sept. 25 in the LBJ Student Center, and a literary fair will be held Sept. 26 at the San Marcos Public Library and the San Marcos Activity Center.

The Tomás Rivera Award considers works in two categories: "Works for Older Children/Young Adult" and "Works for Younger Children." Quintero is being recognized for her book Gabi: A Girl in Pieces under the "Works for Older Children/Young Adult" category, while Tonatiuh is being recognized for Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation under the "Works for Younger Children" category.

Gabi: A Girl in Pieces

In Gabi: A Girl in Pieces, Quintero conveys an authentic cultural perspective in Gabi, a Mexican American high school girl growing up in a complicated world. Gabi is a realist, and her confidence is revealed when she is forced to understand love and its different demands. She strives to make sense of her father’s addiction to meth, and she must defend her identity and beliefs within the messy dynamics of family, best friends and her educational goals. Gabi’s resilience depends on being authentic, using wit, humor, raw honesty and writing poetry.

Quintero's love of reading and writing comes from her mother reading to her and from the teachers who encouraged her to keep writing. Her love of chorizo and carne asada tacos comes from her dad grilling on Sundays. She lives in the Inland Empire area of Southern California with her husband, where she teaches at two community colleges.

Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation

In Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation, Tonatiuh takes the reader to one of the origins of desegregation in U.S. Schools. In 1946, eight years before the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education court case, Sylvia Mendez’s family embarks in a legal fight to end segregation in the California school system. When Sylvia was denied enrollment in her neighborhood’s "Whites Only" school because of her Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage, and the color of her skin, her parents took action by organizing the Latino community. Their lawyers filed the Mendez v. Westminster lawsuit in federal district court and in February 1946. This desegregation success brought to an end segregated education in California. Tonatiuh masterfully brings this successful struggle for civil rights to life so children and young adults can understand the history and importance of school desegregation in the United States.

Tonatiuh was born in Mexico City and grew up in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. He is a graduate of Parsons the New School for Design in New York City, where he studied writing and illustration. His first book, Dear Primo, won the 2011 Pura Belpré Honor for Illustration, and Diego Rivera won the 2012 Pura Belpré Illustration Award and the 2010-11 Tomás Rivera Children’s Book Award. Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote also received the Pura Belpré Honor for Illustration and Narrative, as well as the 2012-13 Tomás Rivera Children’s Book Award. Tonatiuh lives in Mexico.

About the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award

The Tomás Rivera Award at Texas State celebrates authors and illustrators dedicated to depicting the values and culture of Mexican Americans. Rivera, who died in 1984, graduated from Texas State with both his bachelor's and master's degrees before receiving a Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma. A Distinguished Alumnus of Texas State, Rivera published his landmark novel in 1971 titled ...y no se lo tragó la tierra/ ...And the Earth Did Not Part. In 1979, Rivera was appointed chancellor of the University of California-Riverside, the first Hispanic named chancellor to the University of California System.

For more information on the Rivera Award, please visit the Rivera Award website at