Pecos Bill

Incidents from the life of Pecos Bill, from his childhood among the coyotes to his unusual wedding day.

Alamo Wars

alamoJosephine “Miss Mac” McKeever had taught English and Theatre Arts at Rosemont Middle School for so long that her colleagues sometimes joked that she would die in the classroom. So when she does just that, students, teachers, and administrators are stunned. After getting over the initial shock of losing their colleague, the staff agrees that they need to do something very special to acknowledge Miss Mac’s fifty-one years of dedication to the students at Rosemont and suggest naming the school’s auditorium after her. When Mrs. Frymire, her long-time colleague and friend, discovers a play written by Miss Mac years before, she knows that it would be the perfect memorial to present the play, Thirteen Days to Glory: The Battle of the Alamo, in the school’s auditorium named after her friend. But the teachers quickly learn that presenting a play isn’t as easy as Miss Mac had always made it seem, and soon the entire school community is in an uproar as conflicts related to the play emerge. Seventh-grader and Golden Gloves boxer Marco Diaz is, at first, excited to be chosen to play Jim Bowie, the brave Texan who defended the Alamo against Santa Anna’s Mexican Army. But his friend Raquel, an undocumented immigrant, calls him a sell-out because she believes the play makes heroes out of the people who stole her ancestors’ land. And Sandy Martinez, Miss Mac’s much younger replacement, finds the Mexican characters’ dialogue not only politically incorrect but downright offensive. Miss Mac’s friends, though, are adamantly opposed to making changes. Ms. Martinez also tries to convince them that giving certain students plum roles in exchange for their parents’ contributions is wrong, but ends up leaving the production in frustration. Meanwhile, rehearsals only serve to increase the tension between Marco’s friend Izzy Pena and the school bully Billy Ray Cansler. And it’s only a matter of time before Billy Ray corners Izzy when Marco isn’t around to protect him. Weary from struggling with disruptive kids, teachers and kids dropping out of the play, and parents with unreasonable expectations, everyone begins to wonder if they should just give up and cancel the production. Is it too much to expect everyone to work together to pay homage to a long-time friend and teacher?

A Piece Of My Heart/Pedacito De Mi Corazon: The Art Of Carmen Lomas Garza

pieceThe thirty-seven works of art, twenty-four in full color, presented in A Piece of My Heart take us into the heart of one of the most distinguished painters of Chicano life. In a career that spans twenty years, Carmen Lomas Garza has depicted the cherished traditions and harsh struggles of Chicano culture. From Grandparents Cutting Cactus to Felino’s Breakdancers, Lomas Garza’s bright, colorful images capture the beauty and texture of daily life among families, friends, and neighbors in southern Texas.

Crazy Loco

Lively, fascinating, and often laugh-out-loud funny, this short story collection provides an intimate glimpse into the life of Mexican American kids in South Texas. From the tale of a boy’s first crush to that of a girl who yearns to see more of the world, from the feud between Texas brothers and their California cousins to the exploits of a reluctant altar boy, from a poignant reminiscence about a family’s maid to a zany tale of a car-crazy dog, this collection is a whirlwind of insight and entertainment. Loosely based on the author’s own Mexican American childhood, Crazy Loco depicts a South Texas full of charm, humor and energy.

Featured in Volume VI, Issue 1 of WOW Review.

Surprising Cecilia

Surprising Cecilia is the second novel-following the success of Cecilia’s Year-about a girl whose dreams carry her far beyond the small farm community she lives in. Both novels are set in the rich Hispanic culture of the Rio Grande Valley in the 1930s. Cecilia has worked hard so that she can go to high school. Now it’s September-the school bus is bringing Cecilia to the new adventures, surprises, and responsibilities of growing up. Susan Gonzales Abraham and Denise Gonzales Abraham are the daughters of Cecilia Gonzales Abraham, the hero of the Cecilia books. Cecilia’s Year has been selected as the Best Book for Young Adults in 2004 by the Texas Institute of Letters.

Behind The Eyes

behindHector Robles has spent his sixteen years in the projects of El Paso trying to stay unnoticed. His peaceful obscurity is shattered when his impulsive brother challenges the leader of a gang called the Discípulos. Suddenly Hector is drawn into their world of violence and hopelessness. When a marker is placed on his life, Hector tries to escape by going away to a school for students with troubled pasts. But it isn’t easy to function when he’s paralyzed by the fear that they’ll find him, even there. Ultimately, by confronting external threats and the internal pain of his memories and mistakes, Hector begins to understand what manhood really means.

Zulema and the Witch Owl/Zulema y la Bruja Lechuza

zulemaWhen Grandma Sabina comes to live with the family, the first thing Zulema says to her is, ”You sure look old and ugly.” Grandma Sabina warns her granddaughter about the Witch Owl who prowls the night looking for mean children, but Zulema laughs defiantly at such a preposterous tale. In this story about the consequences of being mean to others, Zulema learns something about herself and possibly her grandmother too.

Creepy Creatures and Other Cucuys

creepycreaturesCreepy Creatures and Other Cucuys presents the author’s retellings of fifteen traditional tales heard during his childhood in southern Texas.

Waynetta and the Cornstalk: A Texas Fairy Tale

Times sure are tough on the ranch, and Waynetta and her ma can use all the luck they can get. But when Waynetta trades their last longhorn for a handful of so-called magic corn, Ma is none too pleased. “The only magic this corn’s got is the disappearin’ kind,” she says, and tosses it out the window. But come the next morning, there’s a giant cornstalk growing up to the sky, and Waynetta climbs it to find her own luck… Helen Ketteman’s Texas-style retelling of “Jack and the Beanstalk” is full of cowgirl sass. Diane Greenseid’s paintings bring rollicking new life to a familiar tale. The author lives in Florida; the illustrator lives in California.