Tortilla Sun

When twelve-year-old Izzy discovers a beat-up baseball marked with the words ‘Because magic’ while unpacking in yet another new apartment, she is determined to figure out what it means. What secrets does this old ball have to tell? Her mom certainly isn’t sharing any especially when it comes to Izzy’s father, who died before Izzy was born. But when she spends the summer in her Nana’s remote New Mexico village, Izzy discovers long-buried secrets that come alive in an enchanted landscape of watermelon mountains, whispering winds, and tortilla suns. Infused with the flavor of the southwest and sprinkled with just a pinch of magic, this heartfelt middle grade debut is as rich and satisfying as Nana’s homemade enchiladas.

The Last Summer Of The Death Warriors

When Pancho arrives at St. Anthony’s Home, he knows his time there will be short: If his plans succeed, he’ll soon be arrested for the murder of his sister’s killer. But then he’s assigned to help D.Q., whose brain cancer has slowed neither his spirit nor his mouth. D.Q. tells Pancho all about his “Death Warrior’s Manifesto,” which will help him to live out his last days fully–ideally, he says, with the love of the beautiful Marisol. As Pancho tracks down his sister’s murderer, he finds himself falling under the influence of D.Q. and Marisol, who is everything D.Q. said she would be; and he is inexorably drawn to a decision: to honor his sister and her death, or embrace the way of the Death Warrior and choose life. Nuanced in its characters and surprising in its plot developments–both soulful and funny–Pancho & D.Q. is a “buddy novel” of the highest kind: the story of a friendship that helps two young men become all they can be.

Tortilla Chronicles: Growing Up In Santa Fe

A family memoir full of New Mexico flavor, Tortilla Chronicles serves up a hearty helping of the “City Different” from the perspective of the humble, hardworking Romeros, a family honored for its contributions to regional folk arts. Marie Romero Cash, herself a renowned artist, poignantly sketches each family member using his or her own voice. Their stories present a rare glimpse into the life of a traditional Hispano family and provide an antidote to typical nostalgic tourist accounts of 1950s Santa Fe. One of the main characters is Santa Fe itself, and the narrative tours the city’s streets, shops, plaza, and surrounding hills and arroyos in astounding detail. The ancestry and rituals of family life, the culture and religion of northern New Mexico, and the growth of a neighborhood and its children are all part of the recipe.

Abuelos

abuelosThe tradition of los abuelos comes from northern New Mexico. In the cold months of midwinter, village men disappear to disguise themselves as scary old men and then descend on the children, teasing them and asking if they’ve been good. The abuelos encourage the little ones to dance and sing around huge bonfires. Afterwards, everyone enjoys cookies and empanadas. In this charming book, young Ray and Amelia move to a new village and experience the fright and fun of los abuelos for the first time. Amelia Lau Carling researched the region for her vibrant artwork, and author Pat Mora’s lively text captures the appeal of an old-world celebration now being revived.

Brothers Torres, The

brothersFrankie Towers has always looked up to his older brother, Steve, and with good reason. Steve is a popular senior who always gets what he wants: girls, a soccer scholarship, and–lately–street cred. Frankie, on the other hand, spends his time shooting off fireworks with his best friend Zach, working at his parents’ restaurant, and obsessing about his longtime crush, Rebecca Sanchez.

Frankie has reservations about Steve’s crusade to win the respect of the local cholos. He doesn’t think about them, though, until he gets into a fist fight John Dalton – the richest, preppiest kid in his New Mexican high school, and longtime nemesis of Steve. After the fight, Steve takes Frankie under his wing – and Frankie’s social currency begins to rise. The cholos who used to ignore him start to recognize him; he even lands a date to Homecoming with Rebecca.

The situation with Dalton continues to simmer, and after another incident Steve is bent on retaliating. Frankie starts to think that his brother is taking this respect thing too far. He may have to choose between respecting his brother and respecting himself.

In an honest and humorous debut novel, Coert Voorhees uses a coming of age story to look at where loyalty ends and the self begins.