Books

View all books individually below, or on Arte Publico Press, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble. You can also click the titles below to go directly to a book on the page.

Let’s Salsa / Bailemos salsaPrint

Published 2013
Author Lupe Ruiz-Flores
Illustrator Robert Casilla

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Estella can’t help but giggle when she sees her neighbors, Doña Rosa and Doña Maria, shaking their hips while dancing and sweating at an exercise class at the community recreation center. A few days later, when her mother complains about gaining weight, Estella encourages her to join the class.

Every day after school, Estella enjoys watching the women dance to the rhythmic music. And she’s especially thrilled when the instructor invites her to join them in dancing salsa. “Salsa? That’s what it’s called? I thought salsa was to eat with chips!”

But one day, kids are banned from the class, and Estella is forced to go to a boring crafts class instead. She’d much rather be dancing! So when Estella learns that women had to fight to gain the right to vote, she decides she’ll petition for kids’ rights to enjoy salsa dance classes at the community center!

In this bilingual picture book for children ages 5-9, a young girl learns that dancing is good for fun and fitness, and that even kids can change the way things are done.

PrintLupita’s First Dance / El primer baile de Lupita

Published 2012
Author Lupe Ruiz-Flores
Illustrator Gabhor Utomo

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Lupita is excited about dancing la raspa, a Mexican folk dance, with her first-grade class at a celebration of Children’s Day. But she’s devastated when she learns right before the show that her partner Ernesto sprained his right ankle.

She had been practicing for weeks. And now her family won’t get to see her, swishing and swaying in her beautiful dress full of colorful ribbons. Lupita sadly watches the other dancers from backstage behind the blue velvet curtain. But suddenly, she finds herself on stage, in the spot where she and Ernesto should have been. She begins to dance the routine she knows so well, holding her arms out to an imaginary partner, and almost flees when the audience laughs at her.

But the sight of her mother encourages her to be brave. She continues the dance, becoming the star of the show at least in the eyes of her proud teacher and parents.

Alicia's Fruity DrinksAlicia’s Fruity Drinks / Las aguas frescas de Alicia

Published 2012
Author Lupe Ruiz-Flores
Illustrator Laura Lacámara

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Seven-year-old Alicia and her parents are enjoying the annual festival celebrating Mexico’s independence. There are mariachis strolling across the festival grounds, folkloric dancers twirling in their colorful costumes and brightly colored booths lining the plaza.

But the hot day has fruit juice: there’s watermelon, strawberry, mango and even papaya. The watermelon juice is so delicious that Alicia drinks it all. “Mami, this tastes better than that red soda I drink after soccer practice. Can we make some of these at home?” Soon, Alicia is perfecting her own recipe and sharing it with her teammates after soccer practices and games.

In this bilingual picture book for children ages 5-8, a young girl discovers a treat from her mother’s Mexican-American childhood and becomes her friends’ favorite player with her healthy, frothy fruit drinks.

Battle of the Snow ConesThe Battle of the Snow Cones / La guerra de las raspas

Published 2010
Author Lupe Ruiz-Flores
Illustrator Alisha Gambino
Spanish Amira Plascencia

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It was so hot in Caliente, Texas, that the townspeople gulped gallons of lemonade and poured buckets of water over their heads, but they couldn’t stay cool.

Swinging on the front porch with her mother, Elena suddenly has an idea. Raspas—icy cold snow cones—are what the neighbors need to stay cool. And she can make and sell the refreshing treats from a stand in her own front yard! So with the help of her parents, Elena soon has a stand and the items needed to make and sell the snow cones. Before long everyone is lining up to buy the frosty delights in delicious flavors.

Elena’s best friend Alma watches her friend’s success from across the street and decides to start her own snow cone stand. And so begins the battle of the snow cones, with each girl devising ever more elaborate plans to attract clients: decorating their stands with colorful Mexican crepe paper flowers and papel picado, adding exotic flavors such as coconut and mango to their menus, staging puppet shows and even a folkloric dance. The girls’ ice shaving machines furiously crank out raspas, until one day both machines go bonkers!

Readers will enjoy the girls’ clever antics to attract customers in this lively, colorful picture book for children ages 4 – 8. And just as important, children will learn—along with Elena and Alma—that competitors can still be friends.

The Woodcutter's GiftThe Woodcutter’s Gift / El regalo del leñador

Published 2007
Author Lupe Ruiz-Flores
Illustrator Elaine Jerome
Spanish Gabriela Baeza Ventura

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One day, a terrible thunderstorm knocked down the giant mesquite tree that grew in the town square. After the storm, the townspeople gathered to gawk at the large obstruction blocking the street. They weren’t sure what to do with it, but they all agreed that the wood was good for nothing except a fire.

But the woodcutter Tomás sees something in the huge tree that the rest of the townsfolk don’t. “The beauty of this tree is not on the outside but on the inside,” Tomás tells them. In the following days, everyone watches curiously as the woodcutter carves and chips and whittles the wood into blocks. At one point, he moves the chunks into his shed, increasing everyone’s curiosity. What could the woodcutter be doing with all that lumber?

Finally, Tomás calls the townsfolk together to see his creations: a wonderful collection of life-sized animals for the children to enjoy. Children and adults alike are thrilled with their private zoo! But a few weeks later the woodcutter is visited by strangers from a folk art museum who want to buy the pieces for their collection. Will Tomás sell the town’s new zoo animals so that others can enjoy them too?

Lupita’s Papalote / El papalote de LupitaLupita's Papalote

Published 2002
Author Lupe Ruiz-Flores
Illustrator Pauline Rodriguez Howard
Spanish Gabriela Baeza Ventura

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Lupita sits on the wooden steps of her house and stares into the sky. It is not a commercial airplane that holds her attention or even a bird bedecked in exotic plumes. No, it’s none of these things. Lupita cannot tear her eyes away from the colorful papalotes, or kites, that capture her attention. They dot the sky over her head, playing in the wind, and seeing them, Lupita yearns for one of her own.

But when Lupita approaches her mother about buying one, her mother tells her that they cannot afford one of the beautiful, but expensive, toys. The family needs to save all of its money for school supplies and other must-haves. The kite remains in Lupita’s mind, until with the help of her father, Lupita hatches a plan to make her very own. Finally, Lupita has a chance to let her dreams take flight.

Graced with tender illustrations and playful text, this joyful bilingual picture book offers children aged 3 to 7 the opportunity to let their imaginations fly with Lupita’s.