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Libros sin Fronteras announces its next author, Viola Canales

By Lexi Stickel

Libros sin Fronteras, a bi-cultural reading project, will be hosting author Viola Canales in November 2014. The San Miguel de Allende community will have the opportunity to read Canales’s award-winning book, The Tequila Worm (El Gusano de Tequila) in English or Spanish and engage in a series of discussions with the author during her visit.

The Tequila Worm features the story of Sofia, a young girl growing up in a predominately Latino neighborhood along the Texas-Mexico border. The young adult novel is ripe with the “magic and mystery of family traditions: making Easter cascarones, celebrating el Día de Muertos, preparing for quinceañera, rejoicing in the Christmas nacimiento, and curing homesickness by eating the tequila worm.”

The story follows Sofia as she leaves her family and neighborhood behind and embarks on a journey to a boarding school as a scholarship recipient. Her experiences in the new world of privilege within the boarding school allow her to add meaning to the family traditions she experienced throughout her childhood.

Viola Canales won the Pura Belpré Award in 2006 for The Tequila Worm “for its portrayal, affirmation, and celebration of the Latino cultural experience” (Random House).

Viola Canales grew up in McAllen, Texas, in a household that was rich in family traditions. Out of respect to her grandmother, Canales’ parents did not speak English in front of her and Canales started school in Texas not being able to speak or read English. Canales herself left home at 15 after receiving a scholarship to attend an elite boarding school in Austin, Texas. She attended Harvard College and graduated from Harvard Law School; later, she served as a captain in the United States Army. Additionally, she was a community organizer for the United Farm Workers and had a presidential-level appointment with the Clinton Administration. Throughout her adventures she never forgotten her neighborhood or her family traditions.

Libros sin Fronteras is thrilled to welcome Viola Canales and her novel The Tequila Worm as its second reading project. In 2013, Francisco Jiménez visited San Miguel and discussed his first book, Cajas de Cartón (The Circuit, in Spanish).

An important aspect of Libros sin Fronteras is an emphasis on increasing a love of reading for children in rural communities. Last year Jiménez visited three different rural communities and gave a presentation at La Biblioteca for children. The organization purchased and donated over 300 copies of Cajas de Carton to children and families living in the municipality of San Miguel.

With the partnership of the Literary Sala in 2014, Libros sin Fronteras hopes to expand its efforts even more – to donate to the cause or to learn more about the project, please visit

For information, contact Susan Neulist at Donations can be made to Libros sin Fronteras and left at La Conexion on Aldama, Box 70A.


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