In 1981, the New Mexico Library Association and the New Mexico Literary Association created the Land of Enchantment Book Award. Its purpose is to encourage New Mexican young people to read books of exceptional quality. Books are selected for four lists: Roadrunner (grades K-3), Coyote (Grades 3-5), Lizard (Grades 6-8), and Black Bear (Grades 9-12). Youth who have read at least the required number of nominated books from their age category can then vote in the spring on their favorite. We are currently in the process of ensuring that all the Land of Enchantment nominees will soon be part of our book collection.
The nominated books are a wonderfully-diverse collection. Among them is My Two Border Towns by David Bowles, one of the Roadrunner books. It tells the satisfying story of a father’s and son’s weekend tradition visiting family who live on the other side of the Rio Grande, in Mexico. Their day includes breakfast at a favorite restaurant, visiting an aunt and uncle’s jewelry shop and a treat of cold paletas.
Jo Jo Makoons: The Used-to-Be Best Friend by Dawn Quigley is one of the books from the Coyote list. Jo Jo is an energetic seven-year-old of Ojibwe heritage. She lives on the reservation where her life is busy with family, friends, school, and, of course, her cat, Mimi. She is a plucky problem-solver, leading to humorous experiences in her busy life.
The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera is one of the Lizard list books. It received the 2022 Newbery Award. It intertwines science fiction with Mexican folklore in telling the story of Petra, who finds herself immersed in a utopian vision, while discovering what is real and honorable.
Children’s Book Reviews are by Nancy Guist.