The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy and UNM Press host a reception celebrating the release of children's book, "Amadito and the Hero Children/Amadito y los niños heroes," on Thursday, Dec. 8 from 5-7 p.m. at the RWJF Center, 1909 Las Lomas NE.

Representatives of UNM Press will be on hand to sell copies of the books, while the author, Enrique Lamadrid, professor and chair, Department of Spanish and Portuguese; and illustrator artist Amy Córdova will be on hand to autograph the books. Córdova's illustrations will be on exhibit at the Center.

New Mexico Representative Larry Larrañaga, a descendant of Dr. Larrañaga, the physician noted in the book for traveling down the Camino Real to Chihuahua to get the smallpox vaccine to bring back to New Mexico, is scheduled to attend the reception, as well.

This bilingual story is fact-based fiction about a New Mexico village's fight against two deadly epidemics that doomed thousands of people in the Hispano Southwest: smallpox and influenza. Separated in time by more than a century, nine-year-old protagonists are from the Sangre de Cristo village of Chamisal. María Peregrina arrives in 1810 as a carrier of the precious smallpox vaccine. Amadito proves his love for family and community in the midst of the deadly flu pandemic in 1918. Like many traditional New Mexico cuentos, this is a story of hope in which children are brave and smart enough to overcome major obstacles.

Lamadrid, a folklorist, provides broad cultural, literary and historical context appropriate for a contemporary audience, even one of schoolchildren. A challenge New Mexico children face is the recovery of their linguistic heritage – the Spanish language. The afterword, provided by Professor Michael León Trujillo, can be used by teachers and parents to help children understand their role in confronting worldwide threats to our common well-being.

Media Contact: Carolyn Gonzales (505) 277-5920; e-mail: cgonzal@unm.edu