By David Steinberg

The University of New Mexico Bookstore is featuring a batch of New Mexico-related titles for its Children’s Book Fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26.

“The Legend of Ponciano Gutierrez and the Mountain Thieves” is one of those titles.

The bilingual book retells the legend of  Mora Valley farmer Ponciano Gutierrez and his run-in with Vicente Silva and his band of bank robbers.

In this version, Gutierrez takes a shortcut to Santa Fe – he’s headed there to buy supplies for spring planting – when he stumbles on the gang’s mountain hideout.

The book tells the story not only of Gutierrez’s capture but also how he skillfully turns the tables on the gang and single-handedly brings them in.

There have been many published accounts of Silva and his gang, but this book (It begins with the time-honored phrase “Once upon a time…) is the first published account of the Silva legend as kept alive by Mora Valley families since the 1890s.

In this children’s book, the Paiz family version of the legend is presented in English with a Spanish translation by A. Gabriel Melendez. Melendez is a professor American Studies at UNM.

Casimiro Paiz Jr. is credited with telling the engrossing story that will fascinate all ages. Casey Paiz III wrote the introduction and Martina Paiz transcribed it.

Amy Cordova, a Santa Fe resident, created the illustrations for the book.

The publisher is UNM Press. Retail price is $18.95.

The book is part of the press’ Paso Por Aqui series, and in a note at the front of the book Melendez writes that Silva wasn’t merely a legend, he was a real person.

“The historical record,” according Melendez’s note, “confirms that Silva and his gang had made Las Vegas, N.M., the headquarters of their operations. The gang’s decade-long rampage included murders, thefts, illegal land acquisitions and cattle rustling and lasted for most of the 1880s.”

According to the UNM Bookstore, these are the other featured titles at the book fair: Four books by Rudolfo Anaya – “How Hollyhocks Came to New Mexico,” “The Santero’s Miracle,” “The First Tortilla” and “La Llorona.” Cristina Ortega’s “The Key to Grandpa’s House,” Enrique Lamadrid’s “Amadito and the Hero Children” and Ana Baca’s “Tia’s Tamales.”

All children’s books, plush toys and “lil’ Lobowear will be discounted 25 percent all day.

There will refreshments, games, facepainting and other activites at the book fair. Mascots Lobo Louie and Lobo Lucy will make an appearance between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public. The bookstore is located on the main campus near Central and Cornell.