Married; wife's name Sylvia; children: Ana, Mateo. Education: Southern Methodist University, B.A., 1981, M.A., 1991.
Home and office—Dallas, TX.
Author and educator. Elementary teacher for twenty-six years; currently instructional reading educator with Dallas, TX, Independent School District.
My Father, the Angel of Death was selected for the Texas Lone Star Reading List.
My Father, the Angel of Death, Piñata Books (Houston, TX), 2006.
Throughout his career, Ray Villareal has focused on educating young people. As an elementary-school teacher for over twenty-six years, he drew on his training in bilingual education and focused on teaching his students strong writing skills. In 2006 Villareal became a published author with My Father, the Angel of Death, a story geared for elementary-grade readers.
My Father, the Angel of Death is written to appeal to that group of boys who are often classified as reluctant readers; along with a simple text, the story incorporates a sports theme within its plot. Villareal's main character is Jesse Baron, a seventh-grader whose father is an American Wrestling heavyweight champion. As the son of an entertainer, Jesse finds himself constantly moving from school to school because of his dad's career, and by seventh grade, he has already attended ten different schools. Beyond struggling with being the new kid in class, Jesse must also wrestle himself, battling the fact that he is embarrassed by his father's career. Villareal adds to the plot of the novel by adding a hint of romance through Jesse's crush on a classmate. As several critics noted, he also maintains reader interest by vividly describing the wrestling scenes that take place throughout the novel. Walter Minkel, in his review of My Father, the Angel of Death for School Library Journal, commented that readers get to "enjoy the descriptions of their theatrical battles in the ring." Minkel also predicted that the novel's "appeal to its intended audience should be a smackdown." In Kliatt, Peter Neissa remarked that My Father, the Angel of Death deemed Villareal's debut book as a "wonderfully moving novel [that] alternates between humor, tenderness, and insight about what it means and takes to become a man."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kliatt, March, 2007, Peter Neissa, review of My Father, the Angel of Death, p. 24.
School Library Journal, October, 2006, Walter Minkel, review of My Father, the Angel of Death, p. 175.
Region One Education Service Center Web site,http://www.esc1.net/ (February 9, 2008), "Ray Villareal."
Texas State Reading Association Web site,http://www.tsra.us/ (February 9, 2008), "Ray Villareal."