Visiting assistant professor Carmen Tafolla wins awards for children's book

Zolotow Award Winners

Zolotow Award Committee members Tracy Moore and KT Honring with author Carmen Tafolla and committee member Svetha Hetzler

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(April 19, 2010)--Carmen Tafolla, visiting assistant professor in the UTSA Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies Mexican-American Studies' program, was awarded the 2010 Charlotte Zolotow Award for Outstanding Writing in a Picture Book and the Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award.

The Zolotow award from the Cooperative Children's Book Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, is given annually for outstanding writing in a picture book for children in the birth through age seven range, published in the United States in the preceding year. Established in 1998, the award honors the work of Charlotte Zolotow, a distinguished children's book editor for 38 years with Harper Junior Books, and author of more than 70 picture books. The Cooperative Children's Book Center is a noncirculating library for adults with a professional, career or academic interest in children's and young adult literature.

The Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award, established at Texas State University in 1995, encourages authors, illustrators and publishers to produce books that authentically reflect the lives of Mexican-American children and young adults in the United States.

"I grew up in the West Side barrios of San Antonio at a time when the 10 o'clock news called it the "deep West Side" and the "bad side of town." All across the world, there are children, still today, hearing that they live on the bad side of town, and that their home experiences are somehow 'deprived' of cultural wealth," said Tafolla. "Having this book honored with both awards is a tremendous affirmation of the beauty of our children's barrios and a tribute to all the good that people put into their hopes for their children, no matter where they live or how little they have."

Tafolla's book "What Can You Do with a Paleta?" is a story of a young Mexican-American child's delight with an ice pop on a hot summer day. Tafolla playfully appeals to all senses with rich imagery and crisp language. She invites the reader to think of all the creative things that can be done with a paleta, such as painting tongues purple or giving oneself a blue mustache, making a new friend or learning to make tough decisions.

A sprinkling of Spanish words and Magaly Morales' sun-warmed acrylic illustrations add details of life in a vibrant barrio where the daily arrival of the paleta wagon is met with anticipation and celebration. "What Can You Do with a Paleta?" was edited by Abigail Samoun and published in 2009 by Tricycle Press.