Guadalupe García McCall’s debut novel, Under the Mesquite, has been given the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award by Texas State.
Established at Texas State University-San Marcos in 1995, the award 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 award will be presented Oct. 24 on the Texas State campus with additional events scheduled in cooperation with the Texas Book Festival to be announced.
The Tomás Rivera considers works in two categories: “Works for Older Children/Young Adult” and “Works for Younger Children,” with each category under consideration in alternate years. This year’s winners were nominated as “Works for Older Children/Young Adult.”
Under the Mesquite is the coming-of-age story of Lupita, the eldest of nine children in a Texas border town who is forced to grow up fast when her mother is diagnosed with cancer. Lupita finds comfort under the shade of a mesquite tree where she can express her feelings and thoughts through writing. Through her poetic voice, García McCall conveys the protagonist’s emotions, evoking empathy for Lupita.
“Lupita crafts words out of pain, using metaphorical poetry deeply rooted in the Southwest border landscape to ground this deeply moving coming-of-age novel in verse form,” said Oralia Garza de Cortés, a member of the national committee that selected the title and past president of the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking.
García McCall was born in Mexico and moved to Texas as a young girl, keeping close ties with family on both sides of the border. Trained in theater arts and English, she now teaches English/language arts at a junior high school. Her poems for adults have appeared in more than 20 literary journals. Her debut young adult novel, Under the Mesquite, also won the Pura Belpré Award and was named a Morris Award finalist.
García McCall lives with her husband and their three sons in the San Antonio area. Her web site may be found at www.guadalupegarciamccall.com.
Texas State developed the Tomás Rivera Award to celebrate by acknowledging 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 PhD 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 chancellor named to the University of California System.