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Children's Nonfiction Art

High Riders, Saints and Death Cars

A Life Saved by Art

by (author) Nicholas Herrera

as told by Elisa Amado

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Jun 2011
Recommended Age
Recommended Grade
p to 12
Recommended Reading age
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2011
    List Price

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A USBBY Outstanding International Books Honor Book

Nicholas Herrera started life as a mischievous, dyslexic boy, born into one of the old Spanish families of New Mexico. Bad teachers and poor schooling helped him to lose himself in drugs, drinking, riding motorcycles and driving fast cars. A near-death experience, a wonderful mother and a fascination with making art saved him.

Today Nicholas Herrera is one of the most noted Santeros -- artists who create images of saints and other religious figures -- in the U.S. The text, as told to Elisa Amado, tells Nicholas's story through his art and expounds the hard-earned wisdom that his experience has brought him. Herrera's life, his political views about drugs, his sense of social justice, and his support for oppressed people will speak directly to young readers, especially those who might feel that life has nothing to offer them due to their economic circumstances or their class or ethnic backgrounds.

About the authors

Nicholas Herrera is one of the best-known folk artists working in the United States today. His art is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Art, the Museum of American Folk Art in New York City, the Gene Autry Museum of Western Heritage in Los Angeles, the Regis University Collection of New Mexican Santos in Denver, the Taylor Museum in Colorado Springs, the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe and the Harwood Museum in Taos. His work has been exhibited in New York, Paris, Chicago, Baltimore, Denver, Pueblo and Santa Fe.

Nicholas Herrera's profile page

Elisa Amado's profile page


  • Commended, 2012 USBBY Outstanding International Book

Editorial Reviews

"... most pieces display a tongue-in-cheek humour as well as a love of colour and reverence for traditional beliefs. The book is lavishly illustrated with photos by John T. Denne. "

It's a fortunate teenager who will come across this beautifully produced art book and its subject...

School Library Journal

His unique view of the modern world combined with his traditional methods make Herrera an important contemporary santero.

Pasatiempo Magazine

Herrera and his art are interesting and engaging.

CM Magazine

[Herrera]...makes clear the concrete impact that art can have.

Publishers Weely

...stunning photographs...and a lively narrative...


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