Latina writer of books for kids of all ages.

Guiseppe Castellano

Guiseppe Castellano

A while back, I had the pleasure of being on the SCBWI faculty in Atlanta where I met Guiseppe Castellano, Art Director for Penguin Random House.

I’ve been making a habit of hanging out at illustrator sessions these days even though I have absolutely zero skill in the visual arts. (Why God, why?) I go for the same reason I like to see dance performances: to be amazed by the talents of other people and to broaden my own toolbox for storytelling. There’s a lot to be learned about narrative if you strip out words. You learn to see, I think, how to use negative space – what is NOT said – to your advantage.

Anyway, Guiseppe is offering some good advice on his blog about how to make the most of your SCBWI experience, and he includes thoughts from a range of spiffy speakers, like Arthur Levine, Pat Cummings, and others. I’m in there, too, speaking on how to make the most of both serving as faculty and as an attendee.

Check him out and follow him on Twitter @pinocastellano.

Happy reading!

 

IMG_0186I’m heading over to Pine Camp on July 2 for the opening reception of “Two Seas Merging,” which features the work of Cuban artist Salvador González Escalona. The reception is 6:30 to 8:30 p.m, and the show runs until the end of the month.

FullSizeRenderFrom the press release: “A self-taught mixed medium master artist, González Escalona, with the help of campers enrolled in the Great Summer Escape camp at Pine Camp, just completed painting a mural titled Two Seas Merging, which symbolizes the cultural diversity of the Afro-Cuban connection.”

If your Spanish is strong, here he is in Cuba discussing his mural work in Callejón de Hamel , where he used African religious imagery on a community mural project – remarkable since it was initiated during a particularly repressive time.

Spotlight Gallery hours are from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. This exhibit is free and open to the public. For more information or to schedule a tour please call Shaunn Casselle at 646-6722. For more information about these projects, please call 646-3677.”

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Visited Patsy Cline's house in Winchester

Visited Patsy Cline’s house in Winchester

Just got back from the fabulous Shenandoah Children’s Literature Conference, and I am wrapping up loose ends for some of the participants.

As promised, here are the websites of Latino children’s lit that I mentioned in my talk.

I will get back to those of you who didn’t get the book talking kits that We Need Diverse Books provided. (They went like hot cakes with the librarians!)

And finally, just to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt why I love pastelitos de guayaba, here is a photo of these heavenly treats. My son is dating a young woman who has a Cuban dad.  (Hay que darle gracias al señor…) They sent this yummy box of treats today from New Jersey. Thank you Louis, Mary, and Lauren! IMG_2980

Caminar-hi-res

On Saturday, I had the chance to talk about one of my favorite reads of last year.

I read Caminar by Skila Brown in the fall, and I’m so glad I finally had the chance to talk about it on Weekend Reads.

I’m often asked who has permission to write Latino stories. My personal view: the person with the humility, depth, research skills, and writing chops to do it. In this case, that person was Skila Brown.

Here are some thoughts on violence, children’s literature, and the need to tell our histories.

http://www.npr.org/player/embed/415752511/416192516

 

It’s here! The Girls of Summer Reading list goes live on our blog today. (Click over and check out the titles and our reviews.) But what this really means is that we’re at the start of a big week for us, since our live events happen this week, too. Last minute plans, airport pickups, raffle items – agh!

Gigi and I are so proud of the collection this year – especially since it marks our fifth anniversary of celebrating strong girls and reading.

Where did five years go?

We launched the list as our daughters were making their way out of high school. Today, Judith is living her dream of running a barn in California, training horses with a sure and skilled hand. Sandra has just moved into her own apartment in Washington, DC and will take the helm of a second grade class in the fall. And Cristina has recently landed her first official office job with Midas Auto Parts – an employer whose embrace of community extends to helping individuals with disabilities make meaningful contributions.

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Judith and Tiny

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Sandra’s graduation day with friends. Next stop DC!

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The ultimate strong girl: Cristina

Gigi and I have changed, too. We continue to write and publish books about strong girls and to see our respective careers unfold in ways that we could never have imagined five years ago. Earning the Pura Belpré award for Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass has provided me an incredible platform that I hope I’ve used wisely. I’ve crisscrossed the country encouraging more books that represent all kinds of young people.

Gigi, Tim Tingle, Ellen Oh, Kwame Alexander and me at the Library of Congress

Gigi, Tim Tingle, Ellen Oh, Kwame Alexander and me at the Library of Congress

To Richmond’s great fortune, Gigi recently became the Chief Impact Officer for the United Way of Richmond and Petersburg, where she uses her skills and vision to manage $5.0 million in philanthropic grants and initiatives that help the people in our community learn more, earn more, and lead safe and healthy lives.

But most fun for us has been watching Girls of Summer grow. It’s not really ours any more. It belongs to the community – as it should. Our little project began as a personal expression of our passions for motherhood, books, girls, and our shared city. But five years later, it has been warmly embraced by the incredible staff at Richmond Public Library and bbgb books, where it is now an annual event covered by the likes of CNN and NPR. Other organizations – such as James River Writers, the Junior League, and Richmond Family Magazine – have found clever ways to add their spin to our original idea. Best of all, though, is that we get to see loyal teachers, librarians, parents, and girls come year after year for ice cream (thank you Dabney Morris!) and book lovin’.

I hope you’ll decide to escape this week’s heat wave (94 degree??? Bleh) and help us usher in the summer months. We’re having two celebrations in our area. You won’t be sorry if you come to both, especially since we’ve packed each one with amazing authors for a live Q & A and signing. Look who’s coming to party!

Patty Parks, librarian, Gigi and me at Girls of Summer 2012

Patty Parks, librarian, Gigi and me at our first Girls of Summer

Wednesday, June 17, 7 PM, at the Richmond Public Library, Main Branch, Franklin Avenue. We’ll be joined by two fantastic authors:  Debut novelist Aisha Saeed, a powerful and important new voice who helps lead the We Need Diverse Books campaign; and Sharon Draper, winner of multiple Coretta Scott King Awards and a New York Times bestseller. Sharon is this year’s winner of the American Library Association’s prestigious Margaret A. Edwards Award, which honors an author for significant and lasting contributions to young adult literature.

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Saturday, June 20, 2015, 1 – 3 PM, Northside Library, Charlottesville, VA. The Junior League of Charlottesville has been hard at work for months to welcome the ever-fabulous Newbery-Honor winner, author/illustrator CeCe Bell, and veteran writer – and debut novelist – Marilyn Hilton to our first-ever Girls of Summer WEST party.  Join them, plus some of our favorite Girls of Summer authors from the Charlottesville area for all the fun.

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See you all there!

IMG_0849 copyUn abrazo –

Meg

Who says you can't tell this story to a six-year-old?

Who says you can’t tell this story to a six-year-old?

Before I post the photos from BEA and BookCon in New York, I have to show you what I got in my inbox. It’s a project based on Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass. My librarian friend, Shelley Armstrong, sent me the work of Jordan, Kasey, Myles, and Nick from Dr. Lee Bloxom’s 9th grade English class at the Thomas Dale High School West Campus in Richmond, VA. What better way to teach the impact of audience on writing, than to have a group of kids adapt a story for another age group?  Here’s my bad-ass YA novel as a picture book.  TDHS Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Butt. (Thanks for sending this Shelley!)

Okay, the photos I managed to get my hands on.

Next time you’re in the city, I recommend staying at the Library Hotel, at 41 and Madison Ave., just up the block from NYPL’s famous stone lions. The entire decor in the hotel is based on the Dewey decimal system, complete with an old card catalog at the reception desk. Each floor houses different categories. You can stay in the paranormal section, romance languages, botany. Even the street outside is decorated with brass plaques featuring quotes by famous literary figures. So strange and fun!

A hotel based on the Dewey decimal system. I was shelved in the Slavic Languages section.

I was shelved in the Slavic Languages section.

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I don’t think New Yorkers appreciated me stopping to read all the brass plaques…

 

I fell in love with a little gem of a school in the East Village called the Cornelia Connelly Center. Sweet, smart students – with great questions. Looking for a place to make a meaningful donation? This is it. Thank you CCC!

The fabulous students at Cornelia Connelley Center

The fabulous students at Cornelia Connelley Center

Thanks go to Candlewick for offering F&Gs of my new picture book and free copies of the paperback of YAQUI. I’m also psyched to read titles by my C’wick siblings. (So far, I peeked at the graphic memoir Honor Girl by Maggie Thasher. Amazing.) Look for them this fall.

After the signing of the F&Gs for MANGO.

After the signing of the F&Gs for MANGO.

New work by Todd Strasser, Laura Amy Schlitz, Maggie thrasher, M.T. Anderson, and Pat Schmatz

New work by Todd Strasser, Laura Amy Schlitz, Maggie Thrasher, M.T. Anderson, and Pat Schmatz

And finally, here is a shot of the Book Con panel on diversity. What can I say? This is what happens when you leave tired authors unattended backstage.

Aisha Saeed, me, IW Gregorio, Soman Chainani, Libba Bray, and Jaqueline Woodson. Why not pose with a forklift?  (Backstage at BookCon)

Aisha Saeed, me, IW Gregorio, Soman Chainani, Libba Bray, and Jaqueline Woodson. Why not pose with a forklift? (Backstage at BookCon)

city-new-york-nyc-united-states-panoramic-heightI’ll be spending almost the whole week in the Big Apple! This year I’ll be part of Book Expo America and BookCon for the first time, which feels exciting. Here are the highlights, including some off-site places where I’ll pop up, too.

Back to the scene of the crime in Queens on May 27!  I’ll be talking about Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass and my other books back at the Flushing branch of the Queens Public Library, mere blocks from where I went to junior high school – and tangled with my own real-life bully so many years ago. Flashbacks here I come.

Cornelia Connelly Center in the Village, May 28:  Interestingly, this gig came as the result of a Jesuit priest who heard me speak at a Hispanic Heritage talk I gave at the Federal Reserve Bank last year. So excited to speak to the young women at this Catholic School.

IMG_2890Speed dating at the ABC/CBC Tea, Friday, May 29, 3:30 PM, Javits Center Room 1E12/13:  Booksellers will be getting lithos of my upcoming picture book Mango, Abuela, and Me, which hits bookstores in August.

Screen Shot 2013-05-11 at 9.03.50 PMPublic We Need Diverse Books reception at my favorite bookstore in Spanish Harlem, Friday, May 29, 7 PM:  Join We Need Diverse Books authors at La Casa Azul, which is – hands down – one of my very favorite bookstores. Such a beautiful spot and a thoughtfully curated collection of works by Latino authors writing in Spanish and English. (143 E 103 Street, near Lexington.) The store recently won a Chase Mission Main Street grant to further its important work in the community. Check it out.

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Get free copies of my books while supplies last:  Candlewick is generously offering free F&Gs for Mango, Abuela and Me on Friday, May 29, 1:30 PM and the paperback of Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass – a summer reading list title (Tri-Li ) in New York – on Saturday, March 30, 1- 2pm. Stop by Candlewick booth number #2857, and I will be happy to sign for you.

WDNB_withtag copyDiversity talks, room 1A Javits Convention Center, Sunday May 31:  Come out on Sunday 11:15 where I’ll be with Aisha Saeed, Libba Bray, Jacqueline Woodson, David Levithan, Soman Chainani, and IW Gregorio talking books, diversity, how far we’ve come – and what’s yet to be done. Signing immediately following at 12:30, autograph area, table 5.

 

 

 

 

 

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