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Introducing the Xavier Garza Papers

July 7, 2009

The Archives is happy to announce one of our newest collection: the papers of a Texas children’s author, Xavier Garza.

Xavier Garza is a native Texan, born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley border town. He seemed destined to become a storyteller. Like many Mexican Americans, he recalls his abuela (grandmother) telling him stories while she made tortillas around the stove. He has held on to these cultural memories and they serve as inspiration for his work as both an author and an artist.
Garza received his BFA from the University of Texas—Pan American and his MFA from UTSA. He has had several solo and group exhibits throughout Texas. Being a children’s book author allows Garza to maintain his art career by illustrating his own books. Garza’s full page paintings are captivating and full of movement that help the story come alive. His choice of a lively nontraditional color palette allows for the illustrations and composition to be memorable for the reader.
Garza has written a total of five children’s books. For readers who enjoy a good scare, Garza’s first book, Creepy Creatures and other Cucuys (coo-coo-ees) is definitely creepy. Cucuys are common folktales of South Texas, such as the Lechusa lady, La Llorona and the famous San Antonio tale of the haunted railroad tracks. Garza explains that these stories were told to instill discipline in children – misbehaving children fear the wrath of el cucuy, or boogeyman. The significance behind these stories is that they’ve been passed on for many generations and therefore represent an oral tradition of Hispanic culture.
The Xavier Garza Papers document the creative process for two of Garza’s books, Lucha Libre: the Man in the Silver Mask and Charro Claus and the Tejas Kid. Both stories are bilingual for a diverse audience. For readers who are interested in reading more of Garza’s work I would recommend Juan and the Chupacabras or Zulema and the Witch Owl.
In Lucha Libre, Garza tells the story of a child named Carlito who attends a lucha libre match with his Father and Tió (Uncle) Vicente, but his Tió is nowhere to be found. Carlito sits ringside and enjoying the match and getting a smile from his hero, the Man in the Silver Mask. Garza also provides an interesting historical background of the luchadores.
Charro Claus is the retelling of Santa Claus with a South Texas twist. Santa Claus shows up and asks his primo (cousin) Pancho to help him deliver presents to all of the children in Texas. Santa Claus sprinkles magic dust over Pancho and turns his ill fitting Mariachi suit into wellfitted attire.
Xavier Garza currently lives in San Antonio with his family where he teaches art in the Northside school district. He has performed his stories and exhibited his art throughout the Southwestern U.S.

By Rosemarie Rodriguez, Collections Assistant.

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