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‘Bait’ wins Tomás Rivera Children’s Book Award

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
October 10, 2011

Alex Sanchez

Alex Sanchez (Photo by Bill Hitz)

Alex Sanchez’s young adult novel Bait, which depicts the emotional journey of a troubled 16-year-old boy, has been named the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award recipient for works published in 2009-10.

Sanchez will be honored during a series of events Oct. 20-22 on the Texas State campus and at the Texas Book Festival in Austin.

The author will give a presentation 10-11:30 a.m. Oct. 20 in the LBJ Student Center Ballroom on campus. Sanchez will be signing autographs, and books will be available for purchase. He will also take part in the Rivera Award 15th Anniversary celebration 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Wittliff Collections in the Alkek Library.

Sanchez will attend the Texas Book Festival Oct. 22, participating in the Rivera Book Award session along with moderator Minda Lopez 1:30-2:15 in Capitol Extension Room E2.15 in Austin.

The award, established at Texas State University-San Marcos 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 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 winner was nominated as “Works for Older Children/Young Adult.” More than 40 books published in 2009 and 2010 in this category were considered for this year’s Tomás Rivera Award.

In Bait, 16-year-old Diego is forced to confront painful secrets from his past. Diego goes through an emotional transformation with the help of Mr. Vidas, his probation officer. Over time, Diego recognizes Mr. Vidas as one of the only trustworthy adults in his life and together they examine Diego’s experiences and begin to understand how those experiences set up patterns of behavior that continue to haunt him. The book resists stereotyping and oversimplification, allowing readers to witness the long and difficult process of dealing with emotional turmoil resulting from past abuse. This groundbreaking work boldly addresses important issues that are often hidden away and ignored out of fear and shame. A central message of the book is that through caring relationships with supportive adults, young people are able to overcome painful experiences to lead healthy lives.

Sanchez is an award-winning author of novels geared for young adults. He received his master’s degree in guidance and counseling from Old Dominion University and for many years worked as a youth and family counselor. His novels include the Lambda Award-winning So Hard to Say, the Meyers Award-winning Getting It, The God Box and the Rainbow Boys trilogy. When not writing, Alex tours the country talking with teens, librarians and educators about the importance of teaching tolerance and self-acceptance. Alex was born in Mexico City and his family moved to the United States when he was five. He now divides his time between Thailand and Hollywood, Fla. He maintains a website at AlexSanchez.com.

About the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award

Texas State developed the Tomás Rivera Award to congratulate and acknowledge 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 chancellor named to the University of California System.

For more information on the Rivera Award, please visit the Rivera Award website at www.education.txstate.edu/c-p/Tomas-Rivera-Book-Award-Project-Link.html.