Connecting Texas books and writers with those who most want to discover them

Lone Star Book Reviews
By Michelle Newby, NBCC
Contributing Editor


Michelle Newby is a reviewer for Kirkus Reviews and Foreword Reviews, writer, blogger at, and a moderator for the Texas Book Festival. Her reviews appear in Pleiades Magazine, Rain Taxi, Concho River Review, Mosaic Literary Magazine, Atticus Review, The Rumpus, PANK Magazine, and The Collagist.


Lone Star Book Reviews
of Texas books appear weekly


Born in El Paso, Texas, Pat Mora is a poet, writer, former teacher, university administrator, museum director, and consultant. She is the author of many books of poetry and children’s books. In 2018, the University of Arizona Press published Mora’s seventh adult poetry collection, Encantado: Desert Monologues; and Lee and Low Books published her children’s poetry collection, Bookjoy, Wordjoy.


Her other adult collections include Adobe Odes, Aunt Carmen’s Book of Practical Saints, Agua Santa: Holy Water, Communion, Borders, and Chants. Mora also wrote two collections for young adults, Dizzy in Your Eyes: Poems about Love written in the voices of teens, and My Own True Name.


The Washington Post described Mora’s acclaimed family memoir, House of Houses, as a “textual feast...a regenerative act...and an eloquent bearer of the old truth that it is through the senses that we apprehend love.”


Among her awards are honorary doctorates from North Carolina State University and SUNY Buffalo, a Life-time Achievement Award from the Texas Institute of Letters, a Virginia Hamilton Literary Award, an Honorary Membership in the American Library Association, a Life-time Membership in USBBY, a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship to write in Umbria, Italy, and a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Texas at El Paso. Mora was a recipient and judge of a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a recipient and advisor of the Kellogg National Leadership Fellowships.


A literacy advocate, Mora founded Children’s Day, Book Day, in Spanish, El día de los niños, El día de los libros. Mora and her partners, including the American Library Association and First Book, nationally promote this year-long initiative of creatively linking children and families to books and establishing annual April Children’s Day, Book Day celebrations. April 2018 was the 22nd anniversary of this initiative.

Mora and her husband live in Santa Fe, New Mexico.



Raúl Colón is a popular children’s book illustrator whose work has also appeared in many national publications. He has illustrated more than forty award-winning picture books, including those by Dr. Jill Biden and Frank McCourt.


Colón’s work has been recognized with The David Usher Greenwich Workshop Award from the Society of Illustrators as well as SI Gold and Silver Medals; honors from Communication Arts and 3×3; two Pura Belpré Awards; twice included in the New York Public Library’s 100 titles for Reading and Sharing; and twice recipient of The Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children’s Award.


Colón is known for his unique mixed-media illustration technique, which creates artwork rich in texture and deep colors. He lived in Puerto Rico as a young boy and now resides in New York City with his wife.





Bookjoy, Wordjoy

Pat Mora, illustrated by Raúl Colón

Lee & Low Books

Hardcover, (978-1-6201-4286-8), 32 pgs., $18.95

August 7, 2018


“Books and Me”


We belong


books and me,

like toast and jelly

o queso y tortillas.

Delicious! ¡Delicioso!

Like flowers and bees,

birds and trees,

books and me.



Bookjoy, Wordjoy is the newest collection of poetry for children from Pat Mora, recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Texas Institute of Letters and a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Texas at El Paso, among many distinctions. Especially in Texas, y’all may know her best as the founder of Children’s Day, Book Day (in Spanish, El día de los niños, El día de los libros), which celebrated its twenty-second anniversary this year.


Raúl Colón’s whimsical, joyful illustrations are inspired by Mora’s poems and Mexican painter Rufino Tamayo. The colors are rich but muted, reminding me of a child’s colored map pencils. One of my favorites in this book is a boy attempting to capture words with a butterfly net as they cavort through the air:


words that move, like wiggle

that have a brown scent, cinnamon

that sweetly stretch, car-a-mel

hard words, brick

soft words, lullaby


Mora describes “bookjoy” as the fun of reading and “wordjoy” as the fun of writing — listening to words, combining them and playing with them.


Mora excels at experimenting with words — sometimes in an easy mix of Spanish and English, the musical language of the borderlands, she calls “braiding” — words that can fill your senses, an onomatopoeia of touch, taste, smell, and sight that will stir little ones (and me) out of doors, into the night where fireflies may be



held by sprites

who tumble, ride

the evening breeze


or a place like “Antelope Canyon” where she writes of the changing seasons and antelope that “lick spring stars at sunset.”


In Bookjoy, Wordjoy, books are a feast and libraries are the laden tables. In “Library Magic,” Mora’s Tomás praises the library as “a treasure house that’s free” and exhorts readers to explore. In “¡Bravo! Hip-hop Book Day!” she writes that “Savoring a book buffet, / I become a book gourmet.”


Mora is inspiring and encouraging. “No one sees a tree just the way you see it or hears the wind just the way you hear it,” Mora writes in a welcome to the book. “So no one can write exactly what you can write.” In “Who’s Inside?” the poet prompts children to “draw, / your inside self, write / your inside poem.”


Bookjoy, Wordjoy may be the first creative writing handbook for children.



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