Local children’s book author Rachel Bate recently published her fifth book that is sure to resonate with many New Mexican families as it features a festive, charming chile who uses his magic to help out a local farmer.  

Bate, a Los Lunas resident, taught in both regular and special education for 37 years. Two years ago, she decided it was time to retire and, shortly after, she wrote her latest book “Hatch Chile Willie” inspired from a trip to Hatch, N.M.  

“I always wanted to write ever since I was young, and I love telling stories,” said Bate. “I enjoyed making the students laugh, using puppets and just being silly.”  

The book itself is dedicated to “all the New Mexico farmers and workers who bring the delicious Hatch chile from the seed all the way to our tables.” 

In the story, Pablo, a New Mexican farmer, is woken from a nap by Chile Willie, who appears one day in Pablo’s greenhouse. Equipped with a guitar and knack for showmanship, Chile Willie dances in delight and sings to Pablo. 

Submitted photos. Illustrations by Rebecca Jacob. 

Rachel Bate, pictured, of Los Lunas, has recently published her latest book, “Hatch Chile Willie.”

Chile Willie tells the farmer he noticed he has been so lonely since the loss of his wife, so he decided to appear to help motivate Pablo to continue to care for his chile and encourage him to carry on in life.  

“I shall sing, dance, and play some new tunes to get ready for the Hatch Chile Festival on Labor Day weekend, happening very soon,” said Chile Willie in the book. “You will bear the most magnificent batch of Hatch chile yet. All the townspeople and many visitors will never ever forget!” 

Recognizing the need for more bilingual books, Bate also decided to make “Hatch Chile Willie” her first book integrating Spanish words throughout the story with a Spanish to English glossary at the end of the book.  

“It’s so much part of our culture, so I thought I should really look into this,” said Bate about integrating Spanish into the book.   

Literary Titan, an organization of professional editors and writers, recently wrote a review about the story saying it is a delightful read for children and adults alike. 

“With its blend of whimsy and warmth, this book is an excellent choice for parents seeking a unique and entertaining story to share with their children. Its charm lies not only in the imaginative storyline but also in the subtle messages of friendship and surprise,” the review read.  

Bate’s sister, Rebecca Jacob, who is an artist based in Pennsylvania, brings the zesty, fantastical story to life through dreamy watercolor illustrations that guides readers through the short story as it imparts its message of friendship, new beginnings and rediscovery of passion.  

Like many creative works, it is influenced by the creator, and Bate’s retirement played a big role in the underlying lessons of the story.  

“I just wanted to have a happy book that is full of joy and fun that was kind of a conclusion of my teaching,” said Bate. “You don’t realize how much of your life you have given to making these children happy and successful, so it’s something for me that was kind of spiritual. I cried on my last day of teaching, but I knew I had to move on with life.”  

Bate said all five of her children’s books have a different lesson that is beneficial for kids in different ways. 

Her first book, “Desert Bliss,” follows a calico kitten living in the desert, who decides to embark on a journey to find a better life.  

“I dealt with many children who come from hard situations and part of this story was to have them believe in themselves and follow that inner voice that tells you to seize the moment,” she said. “Also, to know there’s always someone out there that will support you.”  

Her previous books also explore lessons about bullying, the power of friendship and taking care of the environment.  

Bate said she loves to do readings at schools or community events, so anyone interested in hosting her can email her at [email protected]. 

“I love having people in the audience and reading to them and just seeing the reactions; it just really touches my heart,” she said.  

Within Valencia County, “Hatch Chile Willie” can be purchased at the Tomé Art Gallery, located at 2930 N.M. 47. All her books can also be purchased online through Amazon by searching Rachel Bate.  

Bate said she hopes her books inspire readers and encourage children to seek their talents.  

“You’re special. Follow your dreams and believe in yourself!” 

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Felina Martinez was born and raised in Valencia County. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2021. During her time at UNM, she studied interdisciplinary film, digital media and journalism. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, the School of Dreams Academy and the town of Peralta.