Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Lost Narrative from the Civil Rights Era

A Lost Narrative from the Civil Rights Era
A Re-Issue of 1973 Knopf First Edition 
With a new Afterword by Paul Spike

Trade paper $17.95 / 978-1-941026-23-6
E-Book $17.95 / 978-1-941026-24-3
Publishes March

In 1966, a man killed civil-rights leader Rev. Robert Spike. Was it an assassination? Was it simply murder? Paul Spike attempts to rescue his father and his self with the truth.

“So unforgettable that I felt my heart was breaking when I came to the end.” —Paul Auster

At the National Council of Churches, Robert Spike had organized American churches to support the passage of both the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act, to march in Selma and to organize in Mississippi.  An important white leader in the black civil rights struggle, he helped the LBJ White House pass legislation and write crucial civil rights speeches. In the midst of what he described as “the dirtiest fight of my life” struggling to save a federal Mississippi education program, he was viciously murdered in Columbus, Ohio. The murder was never solved. Very little effort went into finding the murderer. The Columbus police and the FBI hinted the unsolved murder was connected to Spike’s undisclosed gay life. During his father's rise in the civil rights movement, Paul Spike lived a life typical of a young man in the 1960s, finding his way through a labyrinth of booze, drugs, and girls. At Columbia University, he was active in the 1968 student rebellion and friends with many SDS radicals. That rootless life ended with his father's murder.

“We don’t believe these assassinations are an accident. We believe there is a conspiracy. Too many of our most important leaders have been assassinated.  John F. Kennedy, his brother Robert, Dr. King, Robert Spike…”  —Hosea Williams, SCLC civil rights leader
“So we not only believe Mr. Spike's story and participate in its comedy, its terror, its extreme pain and ultimate triumph. We also can identify with the author to the point where we understand both his private suffering and the rage he finally vented against the system. For Mr. Spike doesn't whine or exhort or rationalize or rail or ask for sympathy. He simply states how things were with the utmost insight and candor.”  —Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times in a review of the first edition of Photographs of My Father
After Robert Spike’s death, Martin Luther King wrote to his widow and two sons— “Deeply saddened to learn of the death of our dear friend Bob Spike. His death comes as a great loss to the nation and to the fellowship of the committed. He was one of those rare individuals who sought at every point to make religion relevant to the social issues of our time. He lifted religion from the stagnant arena of pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. His brilliant and dedicated work in the National Council of Churches will be an inspiration to generations yet unborn. We will always remember his unswerving dedication to the legitimate aspirations of oppressed people for freedom and human dignity. It was my personal pleasure and sacred privilege to work closely with him in various undertakings as we continue to grapple with the ancient evils of man’s inhumanity to man. We will be sustained and consoled by Bob’s dedicated spirit. Please know that we share your grief at this moment and you have our deepest sympathy and most passionate prayers for strength and guidance in these trying moments.”
In the Afterword of this re-issue of Photographs of My Father, Paul Spike says, “Murder is an indelible stain on a family. It never fades. This book I wrote about my father's murder was an attempt to rescue him and myself with the truth. Of course, that was not going to work like I hoped when I was 23 years old. It doesn't matter. I still believe the hard truth can rescue us from the easy delusions of our political history and that is why I want Photographs of My Father—and the truths I learned after this book was first published—to be read today. Now, after almost 50 years, I understand why I tried to do this. And why I left America. I still dream of justice for my father.”

PAUL SPIKE is the author of five books. A former editor of Punch magazine, his writing has appeared in many publications, including the Village Voice, The Sunday Times, Vogue, the TLS and The Paris Review. He now lives in London. Photographs of My Father was published in 1973 when Paul was 23 years old and named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, 1973.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015



Written and Illustrated by Xavier Garza
Cloth $17.95 
$10.00 plus 25% Discount EQUALS$7.50
Ho! Ho! Ho!

Santa needs help! Abracadabra! Cousin Pancho and little Victor become Charro Claus and the Tejas Kid!

"Even Santa Claus sends the jobs he is unable or unwilling to do to this colorful storybook by local author-illustrator Xavier Garza...The simple South Texas Christmas tale is printed in both English and Spanish, allowing for several different bilingual reading opportunities...Charro Claus is the perfect gift for the children of your Minute Men relatives." —San Antonio Current

Let’s welcome Santa’s newest helper: his cousin Pancho, a farmer living down in South Texas who is so smart he speaks Spanish and English. Back in the day, Pancho was a mariachi singer with a whole lot of style and a fancy sombrero. But as the years passed, Pancho got, well, a little older and a little wider all around. Then one night his primo Santa Claus showed up. Santa needed some help! Pancho volunteered. And then, poof, Santa transformed Pancho into the resplendent Charro Claus with his incredibly Flying Burritos. And Charro Claus, it turns out, even had his own surprise elf—his nephew Vincente!

All Christmas Eve, Vincente and Pancho deliver toys to the boys and girls on the border. Neither rain, cloudy skies, wire fences nor concrete walls keep them from covering every inch of their newly assigned territory. And they don’t forget a single town or city. How could they? The border is their home.

A native of the Rio Grande Valley, Xavier Garza is an enthusiastic author, artist, teacher and storyteller whose work is a lively documentation of life, dreams, superstitions, and heroes in the bigger-than-life world of South Texas. Garza has exhibited his art and performed his stories in venues throughout Texas, Arizona and the state of Washington. He lives with his wife and son in San Antonio, Texas, and is the author of five books. 
Especially great to get young boys reading!

Monday, December 7, 2015


A Novel for Young Adults
Phillippe Diederich
Cloth $16.95 / 9781941026298
Paper $11.95 / 9781941026304
E-book $11.95 / 9781941026311
Publishes February 2016

The bittersweet odyssey of a boy coming of age through a landscape broken by drugs, crime, and corruption.

In Playing for the Devil’s Fire, we ride a young Mexican boy’s emotional helter-skelter as he gradually understands the hopelessness of his battle against evil. Through the hero Boli and his luchador sidekick El Chicano Estrada, Phillippe Diederich has found a brilliant way of going behind the headlines to show that the Mexican tragedy is about real people.
Alan Riding, author of Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans

Phillippe Diederich’s Playing for the Devil’s Fire is a frightening and gripping story of what happens when evil takes control of a small town. Boli, a baker’s son, gives us a firsthand understanding about the long plague of Mexico’s drug wars, the disappearances of those willing to speak out, and the helplessness common people feel when their leaders choose money over justice. Boli’s friendship with El Chicano Estrada, an itinerant masked luchador, recalls the same odd and deep bond Huck and Jim formed in Twain’s great book. The stakes are just as high here for a child whose heart is just as good.    
­Tony D’Souza, author of Whiteman and Mule

Phillippe Diederich, in his debut young adult novel, creates Boli, a 12-year-old boy who becomes our unwitting guide into the terrible tragedy of Mexico’s Narco Wars. Boli, his father and his mother, his sister Gabriela and the demented grandmother live in the tiny town of Izayoc, which in Nahuatl means the place of tears. The mountains around Izayoc had long protected their pueblo from the on-going drug wars that were roiling the rest of Mexico. That is, until the first sentence of the book:

It was a hot Sunday morning when we discovered the severed head of Enrique Quintanilla propped on the ledge of one of the cement planters in the plaza.

Then everything changes. Not apocalyptic changes, like phalanxes of men riding on horses with stingers for tails—but subtle ones. Poor neighbor boys turn up with brand-new SUVs with fancy girls hanging off them. Boli’s parents leave for Toluca, never arrive at their destination, and never come home. No one will talk about it. The priest starts saying mass in Latin. And then a washed-out masked wrestler turns up one day, a man only interested in finding his next meal. Boli hopes to inspire the luchador to set out with him to find his parents.

“Playing for the Devil’s Fire," says Diederich, "is a novel born from my nostalgia and deep sorrow for Mexico. I wanted to put a face to the statistics we hear about, to the over 60,000 to 100,000 deaths in the so-called war on drugs that has ravaged the country. I wanted to address the corruption and the senseless narco violence that is tearing the country apart. I chose the point of view of a 12-year-old boy because I have a 12-year-old son, and because when I was that age, I experienced some crazy adventures with my friends in the outskirts of Mexico City.“

Phillippe Diederich, born in the Dominican Republic, grew up in Mexico City. He worked there for half of a decade as a photojournalist, traveling through the country extensively and witnessing the terrible tragedies of the Drug Wars. He thinks of Mexico as his home—as his country.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

OOPS! Did you forget to give thanks for Poetry?

Oh, don't worry. There's still time. Buy a few books of poems. And remember what William Carlos Williams said in "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower"

My heart rouses
thinking to bring you news
of something
that concerns you
and concerns many men.  Look at
what passes for the new.
You will not find it there but in
despised poems.
It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.

A Book of Poems   
Joseph Somoza 
Trade Paper $15.95 / 978-1-941026-25-0

Remember the poetry of William Stafford? Stafford’s quiet wisdom? Good. Now listen up. Joseph Somoza wanders the same territory. Differently.

This is a beautiful book. A wise book. For Joseph Somoza, language, and the world around, is like a river, forever changing and flowing toward the sea, going this way and that, according to the geography. He allows the poem to follow along, he says, “to build itself, allow(s) words to call up other words through aural and memory associations and syntactic demands, and see where it will lead.” It’s a poetry of intimacy and celebration of being human.

The New Disability Poets
Jennifer Bartlett, Sheila Black, and Michael Northen: Editors
Trade Paper $19.95 / 978-1-935955-05-4

[BEAUTY IS A VERB] is going to be one of the defining collections of the 21st century —and let’s hope it doesn’t take nearly half a century for us all to recognize it. 
Ron Silliman

This powerful anthology attempts to—and succeeds at—intimately showing (meaning, at various times and among many other aims, sharing the experience of, defining the self in terms of, refusing to define the self in terms of, trying to define, exploring the indefiniteness of) disability through the lenses of poetry... 
STARRED REVIEW, Publishers Weekly

Beauty is a Verb is the first of its kind: a high-quality anthology of poetry by American poets with physical disabilities. Poems and essays alike consider how poetry, coupled with the experience of disability, speaks to the poetics of each poet included.

A Book of Poems 
Bobby Byrd
Trade Paper $15.95 / 978-1-935955-75-7

“Bobby Byrd has wrought a singular music over the years made of memory, love, place and a kind of bluesy Zen. Each book of poems is a hymnal to life. He adds to the joy in this new sunburned collection that digs its toes into the El Paso grit but stretches its mind into the stars. I love this book.”
—novelist Luis Alberto Urrea

“These poems devastate me with how fearless and funny they are. The big notions are contained in our smallest everyday interactions and Bobby Byrd will not let anyone forget it.” —poet Connie Voisine

“Byrd writes poems like a novelist. Epic ones. His lines are full of fiction, bullshit and beauty.” —poet and novelist Eileen Myles 

A Book of Poems
Benjamin Alire Saenz
Trade Paper $13.95 / 978-0-938317-64-7

To write well about your life, you need to have a life worth writing about. On that score, Saenz, a son of the Rio Grande border, hits pay dirt. At that border, poverty meets wealth more starkly than anywhere else except, perhaps, at Israel’s fences between Jews and Palestinians. When a writer there speaks of himself, he can speak of his people and how the border defines them. That Saenz does in verse and prose poems distinguished by simple mellifluousness, clear imagery, and effortless balancing of the oracular and the personal voices. 

“Elegies in Blue" again establishes Benjamin Saenz as the “must-read” poet of our times: a man who sings truths, often clothed in discomfort, but nonetheless what we need to save us. Large and full, these poems arrest our hearts and rouse us to act. Poems that can do that belong among the best."
—poet and memoirist Luis J. Rodriguez

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Cinco Puntos

Give the Gift of Story!  Give the Gift of Literacy!
Receive A 25% Discount Thru Christmas!
Everybody loves a good story. Little kids, big kids, teenagers, big people, old people—we all love a good story! So this Holiday Season, give a good book to your little gal​, or your jumping nephew​​, ​your wild ​auntie​, your adventurous tío, ​your good-looking ​husband, ​your book-reading ​wife, ​your nerdy ​brother, ​your loving grandpa or your BFF.
Or make a tax-deductible gift of books to your favorite non-profits or your local elementary school. Literacy outreach programs receive a 50% discount for purchases over $100.
Cinco Puntos Press is always the best place to find gift-giving ideas.

Crane Boy
Crane Boy 

By Diana Cohn 
Illustrated by Youme Landowne
A Middle Reader
Kinga and his classmates create a dance to honor the cranes of Bhutan and to create awareness for their plight.  A delightful tale of environment and culture in a distant land. 
At the Crane Festival in Bhutan, the book's author and illustrator distributed ​4,000 copies of Crane Boy ​to the Bhutanese children.
Buy Now from Cinco Puntos:

“Give this lovely picture book to any child who is looking to change the world for the better.” —School Library Journal

Great and Mighty Nikko
The Great and Mighty Nikko

Written and Illustrated by Xavier Garza
A Bilingual Early Reader 
Bedtime! Nikko wrestles all of the masked luchadores jumping on his bed. And he counts them at the same time! In Spanish and English!
Featured in the New York Times
Buy Now from Cinco Puntos:
Little Chanclas

Little Chanclas
Written and Illustrated by Jose Lozano
A Bilingual Reader for 1st and 2nd graders
Little Lily Lujan loves the slippety-slappety of her noise flip flops—until she trades them in for soccer shoes. Clickety-clackety. Goooooal!
Featured in the New York Times
Buy Now from Cinco Puntos:

My Tata's Remedies

My Tata's Remedies /
Los remedios de mi Tata 
Written by Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford
Illustrated by Antonio Castro L.
A bilingual middle reader of family and traditional wisdom: Tata teaches grandson Aaron natural remedies as he helps neighbors and families.
Buy Now from Cinco Puntos:

"Roni Ashford reminds us about family traditions, cross-cultural and inter-generational support, building community, and taking the time to share, listen,
and heal one another." 
—Smithsonian BookDragon   
Seeing Off The Johns

Seeing Off The Johns 

By Rene S. Perez II
Two baseball heroes die in a tragic accident. What happens in the rural hometown they left behind.
Buy Now from Cinco Puntos:

By Kevin Waltman
The third in the D-Bow's High School Hoop Series. Now in his junior year, D-Bow's game and the season are full of promise, but only if he can make it onto the court to play. 
Buy Now from Cinco Puntos:
The Do-Right

The Do-Right 

Named Kirkus Top 100 Books &
Written by Lisa Sandlin
"The do-right"—that's old Southern talk for prison. Delpha Wade doesn't want to go back there. Fourteen years is enough.
Buy Now from Cinco Puntos:


Written by Philippe Diederich
A Mystery Novel For Foodies

A Cuban-American travels to Havana searching for a secret recipe where he finds love and the truth about his father.

Buy Now from Cinco Puntos:

“A moveable feast full of folkloric flavors, comical rhythms and magic.” 
—Ernesto Quiñonez, author of Bodega Dreams 
As Far As I Know

As Far As I Know

Written by Joseph Somoza
A Book of Poems 
Remember the poetry of William Stafford? Stafford's quiet wisdom? Good. Now listen up. Joseph Somoza wanders the same territory. Differently.

Buy Now from Cinco Puntos:

Or Choose A Classic From The Backlist 

Don’t forget our great backlist featuring books by Joe HayesBenjamin Alire SaenzTim TingleXavier GarzaCynthia WeillJose Lozano and many others. If you’d like a print catalog, or a PDF of our complete print catalog, please write us at

Monday, November 23, 2015

AS FAR AS I KNOW: Joe Somoza's New Book of Poems

A Book of Poems
Joseph Somoza
Trade Paper $15.95 / 978-1-941026-25-0

Remember the poetry of William Stafford? Stafford’s quiet wisdom? Good. Now listen up. Joseph Somoza wanders the same territory. Differently.

This is a beautiful book. A wise book. For Joseph Somoza, language--and the world around--is like a river, forever changing and flowing toward the sea, going this way and that, according to the geography. He allows the poem to follow along, he says, “to build itself, allow(s) words to call up other words through aural and memory associations and syntactic demands, and see where it will lead.” The seasons change, his mother dies, his wife Jill and he share coffee and make love, and crows begin to populate his city. Somoza transforms this stuff of life into a wonderful music of poetry. It’s a poetry of intimacy, a celebration of being human.

Joseph Somoza, Riverside Park, New York City
Photo by Jill Somoza
From the Afterword, “Freight Train”

"Being an immigrant from Spain who spoke mostly Spanish but who wanted to become full-fledged American, I also wanted to make my poems from ordinary, spoken English, without excessively rhetorical devices, the kind of language spoken by my first heroes in America, my uncle Arthur and his buddies who would meet at his gas station regularly to shoot craps, drink Ballantine Ale, and recall their youthful adventures as merchant seamen, the 'real language of men,' as William Wordsworth called it. This would be a natural American-English language that an ordinary American in a heightened state of emotion might actually speak, a language heightened just enough to draw attention to itself but not so much that it would sound artificially 'poetic,' the kind of language a later hero of mine, Jack Kerouac, used.”

The Trees

Sitting here among my friends
the trees, I feel their
quietude, the gratitude
they show by holding out
their limbs, generously
allowing the moss to grow
on them, and squirrels and birds to
build nests in their crowns.
They don't seem to mind my
sitting here, maybe sensing
how much I value their
contemplative nature,
their general satisfaction
with the way things are.
Rooted to their one place
in the woods, they don't
crave something better,
nor complain about the weather.
They stand tall and straight,
side by side accepting
whatever comes.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


by Diana Cohn
Illustrated by Youme Landowne
Cloth $17.95 / 978-1-941026-16-8
Paper $8.95 / 978-1-941026-17-5
E-Book $8.95 978-1-941026-18-2
Publishes October 2015

Kinga and his classmates create a dance to honor Bhutan's black-necked cranes and to create awareness for their plight.

Every year, Kinga and his classmates wait for the black-necked cranes to return to the kingdom of Bhutan, deep in the Himalayas. Every year, they discover, fewer cranes return. Together with his classmates, Kinga spends time observing the cranes and their movements. From this observation, they create a dance to honor the cranes and to remind people of their duty to care for them. They perform their beautiful dance before the King of Bhutan.


Combining reverence for nature with the culture and spirituality of the Bhutanese people, this book tells the story of the Crane festival and how it came to be. One little boy turns his love of the cranes that migrate to Bhutan each year into a celebration of the sacred animal in an attempt to raise awareness of their dwindling numbers. The soft watercolor illustrations are as graceful as the text, and the information provided at the end of the story about the cranes and the culture of Bhutan combine to create a fascinating, exquisite book. Ages 4-9.
—Foreword Reviews

[Diana] Cohn weaves numerous details about Bhutanese life and culture into her smoothly told story; Youme adds even more with watercolor images in a naïve style that nicely matches Kinga's present-tense narration. … [Crane Boy] gracefully celebrates both a little-known culture and its beloved birds.  —Kirkus Reviews


How did you come to write Crane Boy?

I was inspired to write the children’s book Crane Boy after visiting Bhutan in 2012. While I was there, I attended a traditional festival in a village monastery to see dances that had been performed the same way for hundreds of years. I also went to observe the black-necked cranes that migrate to winter in Bhutan’s great wetlands. These cranes are sacred to the Bhutanese and are an integral part of their culture. It was there I learned that a new modern festival had been created, a Crane Festival—where the monks performed their traditional dances but where schoolchildren also performed dances to raise awareness about the Black- necked cranes. It was at this instant I knew I wanted to write a story inspired by the creation of this unique Festival and the children involved in this effort. I was interested in this universal story about loving and protecting nature and that it could be told in a very specific cultural context.

Before traveling to Bhutan, did you have a connection with The Royal Society for the Protection of Nature and the International Crane Foundation who are mentioned in your Afterword?

Part of my process as a writer creating Crane Boy involved doing a tremendous amount of research on the Black-necked cranes and the Crane Festival. That’s how I learned about the work of both of these groups. After Cinco Punto Presss decided to publish Crane Boy, I asked George Archibald, the founder of International Crane Foundation to read the story and give his feedback. He has been very supportive of this book from the start. When Youme and I went to Bhutan in 2013, we conducted several focus groups on the manuscript. We met with and read the manuscript of Crane Boy to staff from the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature, to the head of education at the Gangtey Monastery (where the Crane Festival takes place) and most importantly to schoolchildren and their teachers. All the feedback and questions from those focus groups gave me ideas for revising and making last minute changes to the story. The Royal Society for the Protection of Nature is our partner in guaranteeing that copies of Crane Boy get distributed to schools and libraries throughout Bhutan.

What was it like to work with Youme on this book?

Youme spent hours in Bhutan doing extensive visual research for our book. She is a brilliant illustrator and writer, and she is a keen observer of life with its’ complex myriad of details! We have been aware of each other’s work for many years and this was our first opportunity to collaborate and work together. The most amazing part for me in the creation of this book was how Youme brought the characters and details of the Bhutanese landscape and culture to life in her illustrations. She was inspired by many of the people we met and her ability to create Kinga, our main character and Kado, the Caretaker of the Cranes and others, was one of the most marvelous processes I had the privilege to witness.


Diana Cohn is the author of seven books for children, including three widely acclaimed award-winning books: Dream Carver, Si Se Puede! / Yes we Can!— Janitor Strike in L.A. and The Bee Tree. When not writing books for children she works for a national grantmaking foundation that supports arts education and social justice organizing. She has a BA in Human Ecology from the College of the Atlantic and a Masters in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.  She is an advisor to LItquake, San Francisco’s largest literary festival and serves on the board of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. She lives in northern California on a houseboat with her husband.

YOUME LANDOWNE grew up loving stories. She has lived and worked as a community artist in New York, New Haven, Miami, Woods Hole, San Francisco, Kenya, Japan, Lao P.D.R., Vietnam, St. John, U.S.V.I., Haiti and Cuba. Youme’s books include Selavi (That Is Life): A Haitian Story of Hope, Mali Under the Night Sky: A Lao Story of Home, and Pitch Black: Don’t be Skerd with Anthony Horton. She is drawn to stories of survival and champions for social justice. Youme lives in an everchanging location with her husband and their two children.

Author Tour: San Francisco, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Chicago, IL; New York City; Miami, Florida.