Ana Baca

I discovered a love for writing at nine years old when I received a cherry red journal with lock and key from my sister for Valentine’s Day.   But it wasn’t until my father passed away when I was twenty-one that I discovered that writing was much more than a way to entertain myself; there were stories to be told that could honor his legacy, the legacy of my ancestors, and even to help preserve a cultural heritage.   It was at this difficult time that I found solace in the stories and anecdotes my mother relayed of her own youth and family history.  I wrote down my mother’s stories in a journal and years later they became the fodder for my first novel, Mama Fela’s Girls.

“Ana truly has the storyteller’s gift, working with a heritage of stories from which she draws her generational fiction, about the lives of four women in a small New Mexico town, during the Depression.  She brings us inside their rooms, their ways of seeing each other, and their world through the absorbing details of habit and daily courage. Strong writing, highly recommended.”

–Michelle Miller Allen, New Mexico Woman Magazine

“Literature at its best introduces humankind to itself.  Meet Mama Fela—wife, mother, grandmother, caught in a crossfire of time and geography, a prism through which pass the many colors of Hispanic life in America. Ana Baca’s compelling tale will draw you in until you, too, join the family.”

–Jerry Spinelli, Newbery Medal-winning author of Maniac Magee

“If ever there were a story that could reunite family members once separated due to differences, it is this one.  It may just force a reader to smile or cry or laugh the next time he or she is in the company of in-laws, bringing a new perspective to the family portrait.”    –Bradford K. Wible, Southwestern American Literature

“It would make a terrific movie, with the kind of parts real actresses only dream of.”  –Marilis Hornidge, The Courier Gazette

“This sweet, uncomplicated novel would be an excellent book to teach at the middle and high school levels.  Students from any culture will appreciate the conflicts between parents and children and identify with young Cipriana’s fears, Cita’s dreams and Graciela’s love.”   –Cecilia Rodriguez Milanes, Book Review

Benito’s Bizcochitos / Los bizcochitos de BenIllustrations by Anthony Accardo, Spanish translation by Julia Mercedes Castilla

1999, 32 pages, Hardcover, ISBN 1-55885-264-6, Ages 4-10

Many children – and quite a few grown-ups – know the delicious taste of bizcochitos.  (Indeed, the bizcochito has the unusual distinction of being the official “state cookie” of New Mexico!)  Ana Baca shares the secret of how the bizcochito first came to be in this charming fable.  The book includes a bizcochito recipe.

“A delightful story.” — Southwestern Ohio Young Adult Materials Review Group

Benito’s Sopaipillas / Las sopaipillas de Benito

 Illustrations by Anthony Accardo, Spanish translation by Carolina Villarroel

2007, 32 pp., Hardcover, ISBN-10: 1-55885-370-7, ISBN-13: 978-1-55885-370-6

Ages 4-10

Everyone loves the taste of the puffed pillows of fried bread known as sopaipillas, whether they’re drizzled with honey or sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.  But most people don’t know about this Southwestern treat’s magical origins, or how it got its name.

Benito learns about the pillows of bread known as “soup catchers” that, like clouds, catch rain drops and bring them down to earth.  A delicious recipe included.

“Accardo’s illustrations are full-page panels, expressive, colorful and old-fashioned, just like the story itself.” – Kirkus Reviews

Chiles for Benito / Chiles para Benito

 Illustrations by Anthony Accardo, Spanish translation by José Juan Colin

2003, 32 pages, Hardcover, ISBN-10: 1-55885-389-8, Ages 4-10

In this special fable, Benito’s mother sends him to the county fair in the hopes of their cow winning the first place prize, but the cow misbehaves and they must leave the fair.  Benito is stopped by a mysterious man who offers Benito some powerful seeds in exchange for his cow.  But when only uncontrollable weeds grow from the ground, Benito begins to feel foolish.  How will the community survive?  Will the rapidly growing weeds ever bear fruit to help Benito?

“The text, as good in Spanish as it is in English, reads aloud well. . .” — School Library Journal

“. . . a competent effort that focuses on family and tradition in the Southwest.”              –Booklist

Tia’s Tamales

Translated and illustrated by Noel Chilton

  • Reading level: Ages 4-8
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: University of New Mexico Press; Bilingual edition (May 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826350267
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826350268

Ana Baca’s bilingual tale of how two children from different generations learn to make their family recipe for tamales will delight readers of her earlier picture books that combine folklore and traditional cuisine.

Luz’s school day is canceled because of snow and her abuela decides it’s the perfect time to teach her to make tamales, just as Abuela’s father, Diego, was taught by his tia on a long-ago winter day.  As Abuela tells it, when Tia showed up unexpectedly at Diego’s home, the pantry was almost bare with only a few dried squash, two pumpkins, three onions, a bundle of dried corn, and one red chile ristra on the shelves. Diego didn’t think they’d be able to do much with such meager ingredients, but by the end of the afternoon, Tia had taught him that with laughter and a little embellishment, a delicious meal can be made from almost nothing.

9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carrie Grajeda
    Feb 11, 2015 @ 15:12:44

    Dear Mrs. Baca,

    I am writing to invite you to speak at our annual celebration of Young Author’s Day on May 12. We would be honored if you would speak to our student body of K-8th graders to share your stories, how you became an author, and your writing process. We will, of course, compensate you for two presentations of 35-40 minutes, and invite you to stay for lunch. I read “Chiles for Benito” to the 2nd graders, and they love it! I look forward to hearing from you.

    Carrie Grajeda
    Holy Ghost Catholic School
    6201 Ross Ave SE
    Albuquerque, NM 87123


  2. Michele Sanchez
    Sep 06, 2017 @ 12:15:43

    My name is Michele Sanchez. I am a second grade teacher at Monte Vista Elementary in Las Cruces, NM. We are looking for authors to inspire our students to read and write. Would you be willing to visit our school and tell your inspiring stories to our school?

    If you choose to reply to this, I will put you in contact with our administration to work out the logistics.
    Michele Sanchez cell (575-650-5217)
    Second Grade Teacher
    Monte Vista Elementary(575-527-9490)


    • Ana Baca
      Sep 09, 2017 @ 02:39:29

      Dear Michele,
      Thank you for getting in touch. I would ordinarily love to do a school visit but I am not doing them at this moment. Thank you for the kind invitation.
      Ana Baca


      • Mari Cadena
        Oct 09, 2018 @ 19:32:29

        I am the librarian at Monte Vista Elementary in Las Cruces, NM. I am seeing if by chance you are doing better and would be able to schedule a visit to our school?

        Mari Cadena (575-527-9490)

      • Ana Baca
        Nov 02, 2018 @ 22:32:23

        Hello Mari,
        Thank you for contacting me. I apologize for not getting back with you sooner–I don’t get to my wordpress site that often.

        What kind of visit are you looking for? For any particular event like a literacy week or to classrooms or . . .

        I usually charge $250 for an out of town visit or the purchase of books.

        My $250 fee or the purchase of books includes: Three – 45 minute sessions (usually with combined grades.) I usually read the book and talk a little about writing. I take my journal which I started when I was 9. That usually elicits some interest. My talk is usually about 30-35 minutes, perhaps with 10 or 15 min for questions. This includes bizcochitos or candy coins (from the story) for all the children. I find first, second and third graders respond best to my book.

        I can connect you directly with my publisher who has paperbacks of Benito’s Bizcochitos available. They can offer a 50% discount off the retail price ($7.95) to organizations that give the book to kids (per unit cost would be $3.98 / book). You can place an order ( here or speak with Sylvia Rodriguez. I can connect you all if you want. The paperback Tia’s Tamales from UNM Press gives a 40% discount off of the retail price of $16.95 so these are more expensive but I can connect you all with them too if you prefer.

        Let me know if you have any further questions or if you’d like to schedule a visit. I appreciate your interest!
        Warm regards,
        Ana Baca

    • Ana Baca
      Nov 11, 2018 @ 19:03:22

      Dear Michelle,
      I hope you’re doing well! I thought you might be interested in a holiday deal I’m doing. Please pass on to any other educators you know. Please see the details through this link. All the best, Ana


  3. Cynthia Smith
    Sep 13, 2018 @ 18:57:40


    My name is Cynthia Smith. I teach the visual arts in Las Cruces Public Schools.
    I am the chairman of the Author’s committee for the upcoming New Mexico State Battle of the Books happening on Saturday, April 27, 2019.

    Would you be available to attend the conference in LasCruces, New Mexico,as one of our guest authors, to inspire the next generation of avid book readers! Authors who attend offer their books for sale and signing and meet and greet interested visitors.

    The Battle of the Books event attracts 300-400 participants in grades 3-8, along with friends and family.

    I look forward to hearing from you!


    • Ana Baca
      Nov 11, 2018 @ 19:08:56

      Hello Cynthia,
      I’m not sure if I ever replied to you. I apologize if I didn’t. I don’t often look at my website but now I am set up to receive notices when an email comes through the website.

      Tell me more about your event and your expectations for an author visit. I find that children from first through third respond best to my book but let me know what you have in mind.

      Also, I am having a Christmas special and I thought I’d share it with you.
      Please pass on to any other elementary school educators you know. Please see the details through this link. All the best, Ana


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