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2021 Book Award Winners

Works for Younger Readers: Feathered Serpent and the Five Suns: A Mesoamerican Creation Myth - written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh

Cover of Feathered Serpent and the Five Suns


Long ago, the gods of Mesoamerica set out to create humans. They tried many times during each sun, or age. When all their attempts failed and the gods grew tired, only one did not give up: Quetzalcóatl—the Feathered Serpent. To continue, he first had to retrieve the sacred bones of creation guarded by Mictlantecuhtli, lord of the underworld. Gathering his staff, shield, cloak, and shell ornament for good luck, Feathered Serpent embarked on the dangerous quest to create humankind.
Award-winning author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh brings to life the story of Feathered Serpent, one of the most important deities in ancient Mesoamerica. With his instantly recognizable, acclaimed art style and grand storytelling, Tonatiuh recounts a thrilling creation tale of epic proportions.

Author Biography

Duncan Tonatiuh wearing a blue jacket

Duncan Tonatiuh was born in Mexico City but travels to the US often. His books have received many awards over the years. Duncan is a past recipient of the Tomás Rivera Book Award. He resides in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico with his wife and children.

Works for Younger Readers: The Spirit of Chicano Park/El espíritu del Parque Chicano - written by Beatrice Zamora, illustrated by Maira Meza

Cover of The Spirit of Chicano Park, El espiritu del Parque Chicano


Bettie and Bonky discover a magical park located in a most peculiar place, under a bridge! They learn to love their new home in Barrio Logan, a neighborhood with a rich history in San Diego, California. Through the eyes of a mystical Señora they travel through a historical journey of a community’s struggle to build a park. They learn the true history of Chicano Park and the importance of finding their voice and community action.

This historical fiction children's book tells the dynamic story of the people of Logan Heights and world-famous Chicano Park.  It is bilingual in English and Spanish and includes short biographies of several community champions in the back section.

Author Biography

Beatrice Zamora profile

Beatriz Zamora, a California native, grew up during the civil rights movement in the 1960s. At a young age she became involved with various social justice causes which eventually became the basis and foundation for the winning book.

Illustrator Biography

Maira Meza wearing a black shirt and jacket

Maira Meza is a first generation Chicana from California. During her teenage years she won several national poster contests which gave way to her love for art. While she has had a long journey of health complications, she has turned to art for therapy and continues to escape the real world by letting her mind and hand bring her into a peaceful zone.

Works for Older Readers: Dreaming with Mariposas - written by Sonia Gutiérrez

Cover of Dreaming with Mariposas


Dreaming with Mariposas, written in a Tomás Rivera and Sandra Cisneros bildungsroman vignette style, recounts the story of the Martínez family as told through the eyes of transfronteriza/transboundary Sofía “Chofi” Martínez. Chofi witnesses institutional racism, sexual harassment, and colorism and learns to navigate her parents’ dreams and her dreams as she discovers her superpower, the strength of her Mexican Indigenous heritage, and the spirit world.

Author Biography

Sonia Gutierrez wearing a pick hat

Sonia Gutiérrez carries the torch of her literary forebearers Tomás Rivera and Sandra Cisneros, powerfully and poetically capturing what it’s like to grow up as a brown girl in America. She teaches critical thinking and writing, women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, and multicultural studies but is returning to her manuscript, to work on her first picture book.