The American Library Association announced this morning that my YA novel The Smoking Mirror is a Pura Belpré Honor Book!
The Belpré recipients are selected by a committee of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association, and the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-speaking (REFORMA). The award recognizes writing that “best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.” In announcing the award on the ALA website, the committee said of The Smoking Mirror, “Bowles creates an action-packed story based on Aztec and Mayan mythology while capturing the realities of life in contemporary South Texas and Mexico.”
This is a tremendous honor, but it is certainly not something I achieved on my own.
I owe a huge debt of gratitude to many people who have supported the project, believed in my work, read early drafts, reviewed, and otherwise given publicity to this quirky fantasy tale of shape-shifting Latino twins from Donna, Texas.
I should probably single out Gerry Huntman and Louise Zedda-Sampson of IFWG Publishing, who believed in the Garza Twins series when two years of unsuccessful pitches had me losing hope. My friends Xavier Garza, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Rene Saldana Jr. and Jason Henderson were especially awesome in giving me tips and boosting my confidence, as were other authors and illustrators like Malin Alegria, Viola Canales, Carolyn Flores, Lupe Ruiz-Flores, Jan Seale, Jeanette Larson, and and many others.
Exposure is key to a work’s success, and I would be remiss not to tip my hat to the people who reviewed or otherwise helped promote the book: Rudy Ch. Garcia and La Bloga, Sabrina Vourvoulias and AL DÍA News, Olivia Fowler and GeekaChicas, Ernest Hogan, Gabino Iglesias and Amy Cummins. A very special shout-out goes to the entire community of Texas authors/illustrators and to the guy who often wrangles us together: Pat Anderson, who put a bunch of copies of this book in the hands of a bunch of people. The community of librarians in the Rio Grande Valley deserves a huge hug, especially Maria Elena Anzaldua Ovalle and Priscilla Celina Suarez. Plus all the teachers, librarians, administrators and other staff at Donna ISD, with a specific mention of Efren Ceniceros, who along with his wife Dora has always given my writing the moral support I needed from my town (and the town of the Garza Twins, hello).
Y sobre todo, les debo esto a mi esposa, Angélica, y a mis hijos: Helene, Chalene y Angelo. Sin ustedes, no soy nada. Gracias por aguantar que me encierre durante largas horas con la computadora, tecleando como loco. Los quiero más que la vida misma.