Latina writer of books for kids of all ages.

Posts tagged ‘Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass’

A Book Club from the Comfort of Your Phone

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 9.34.46 PMYou’re invited to join me at a book club tonight and the best part is that you never have to leave the comfort of your stretchy pants and living room. That’s because I’m going to be part of the Las Comadres Young Adult Teleconference Book Club at 8 PM.

Here’s the number and code: Dial in #: 1-877-383-4771
Code: 120120143

If you’re not familiar, Las Comadres is a nationally known Latina organization whose mission is to “empower women to be actively engaged in the growing Latino/Hispanic communities through online and face to face networks.” What I like about Las Comadres is that its spine is mentoring. The idea is to share information, to help each other succeed, and to celebrate our cultural heritage along the way. Last fall, I had the pleasure of being part of the Las Comadres Writers Conference at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, a gathering of established and up-and-coming Latino authors, editors, and agents. It was such a great time for me to work with writers who are coming up behind me and also to connect with people, like Esmeralda Santiago, whose work I’ve long admired. (José Vilson, was another highlight. Check out his bad ass teacher blog, particularly valuable in the wake of the events in Ferguson.)

Anyway, for tonight, founder Nora Comstock is going to lead the conversation about Pura Belpré – the woman and the award that so many people just can’t pronounce – and how I’ve used my year to honor her memory. We’ll also talk on bullying and identity issues, specifically through the Latino lens. (Bean jokes, knife jokes, jail jokes, go-back-where-you-came-from comments…I could go on.) Anyway, I’m thrilled that Dr. Andrea Romero of the University of Arizona and associate editor of Journal of Latino/a Psychology is going to join us, too.

I hope you can make it. Check out the upcoming authors, too.  I just registered for the Dec. 15 session. The book of the month is The Clairvoyant of Calle Ocho by Anjanette Delgado, which I haven’t read yet, but it also features additional conversation with Daisy Hernandez, whose memoir, A Cup of Water Under My Bed, was one of my favorite reads this year. Looking forward to it.

Cariños de,
Meg

Philly, Vicks VapoRub, Kids & Me

The view from my hotel room. Across from Shakespeare Park is the Free Library

The view from my hotel room …across from the Free Library

Pretty enough to eat…so I did…

I’m back from Philly where I stayed at the lovely Four Seasons Hotel, a guest of the Free LIbrary of Philadelphia. The hotel is every bit as cushy as you’d expect. Chandeliers, thick rugs, polite people at every, single turn.  The staff even made me a beautiful candy version of the book cover for The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind – which was both astoundingly lovely and funny. I was there to speak about Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, after all. Hmmm. I would have LOVED to have been a fly on the wall when the dessert guru had to decide what to do.

 

Anyway, I spent the day as part of library’s well-regarded Field Family Teen Author Series, an endowed program that brings authors and books to students at no cost to their school. (Attention People of Means and Nice Shoes!  Consider doing this in your community, too!)

The high school students in my groups were amazing. A sampling: Students with visual impairments who heard the audio version of Yaqui. Young people who were in a GED program and trying to get themselves back on track. A charter school that is over 90% Latino – and their teacher who is an aspiring author, too.

MPSWe met at a branch in the Kensington area – decidedly NOT the Four Seasons ambiance. But it’s a dead ringer for the Queens that I knew growing up, right down to the trains running overhead the way they do in Corona, Jackson Heights, Jamaica and lots of other Queens neighborhoods. Kensington is fighting crime and serious decay with the help of organizations like Impact Services Corporation which helped make a playground, organized more police protection, and hosted a Halloween celebration for the families just last week. (The fake cobwebs were still clinging to the ceiling.) It’s always an inspiration to see people reclaim their own neighborhoods, especially when they keep young people at the front of their thinking. It’s all the better when those efforts use the literary arts in their arsenal, too.

Any author will tell you that traveling can be exciting, but it can be hard, too (fancy hotel rooms notwithstanding). We’re away from our own families, and sometimes we get weary of presenting the same material. But for me it’s also true that all of that disappears when you are in the room with kids who are reading your book. Teens ask you hard questions: Was it weird to write the sex scenes?  Do you think of this as a confessional book? Did the real Yaqui ever kick your ass? What advice can you give us?

I’m never sure what’s coming my way except that we usually get to talk about hard decisions and boundaries of all kinds. Most gratifying of all, though, I get to hear kids say powerful things about books and identity, things that leave me breathless and humbled.

“It was so cool to see a Dominican like me as a main character. Thank you for that.”

“Thank God you mentioned Vicks VapoRub. My mother rubs that all over me when I’m sick. Nobody else understands.”

“I could picture everything you said. It’s just like this in my house.”

And there you have it: the thing that’s most important about writing in celebration of all kinds of kids and families. It provides young people with their own story. It gives them relief from stereotype. It offers them the message that they matter and that their tale should be captured.

WDNB_withtag copySo, I’ll close with this: A lot of you know that the We Need Diverse Campaign is in the last leg of raising money on IndiGogo. (This morning we were a little over 80K on our way to $100K.) I donated early, and I have volunteered to be their mouthpiece wherever I go. The executive team, lead by Ellen Oh, is an amazing group of people who feel this mission in their bones. They are working hard to make our school and public libraries places where all kids can see themselves in a book.

You can donate a buck if that’s what you’ve got, or you can reach deep and donate in return for amazing perks that have been provided by some of the country’s most talented writers, illustrators, editors, and agents. Please consider helping.

Thanks. Until next week…when I’m in Austin Texas…

Cariños de,

Meg

 

Meg’s next appearance:  YA Lit Symposium, Austin, Texas.Nov 14 – 16, 2015d9ae9396-4c54-4caf-973e-2847c176036d

 

Teen Read Week & More in #RVA

TRW14_1000x200It’s a great week to love books in Richmond, Virginia – especially middle grade and YA fiction. That’s because it’s not only the Library of Virginia’s Literary Festival, but it’s also the American Library Association’s TeenRead Week. Wao! So much going on, so what can I say except, Tengo los patines puestos! (I’ve got my roller-skates on!) Here are a few highlights of where I’ll be during the week:

ByznKPqIcAMRPzSMeadowdale Library/Tomahawk Creek MS:  I’ll head down to Chesterfield County for a library book talk that is off-site on Wednesday, Oct 15, 7 PM.  We’ll talk The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind and Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass. Here’s the info and where you register.  Especially nice to see a partnership between the school and public libraries in a community.

 

10460756_624828830946388_5252190620263280422_nTeen 14: Locals already know that the main branch of the Richmond Public Library on Franklin Street is always figuring out ways to make reading come alive, especially for kids. So, they’re going to play host once again for a teen author event. Join Virginia authors who have works for teens published in 2014. Teen '14 poster-FIt’s a ready-made night for librarians, teachers, and readers who want to meet and make friends with the truly kick-ass authors we have in the Commonwealth. PLUS, food, music, giveaways.  If last year’s event was any sign, it’s going to be a really fun night. Details on their Facebook page or click on the jpg poster here.

Hermitage High School Anti-bullying Book Event with Erin Jade Lange. You know her novel?  It’s called Butter, about a kid who decides to eat himself to death on Internet. Here’s the trailer. We’ve cooked up (ugh, the pun!) a good conversation about our books and bullying.  Note: it’s a closed event, but it will be available by podcast to other high schools.

 

ConferenceLogo2014smallerJames River Writers Conference:  My favorite conference each year because it brings us all together – writers across every genre and age group – talking, teaching, and learning about the writing life.  The Library of Virginia’s literary luncheon on Saturday features Barbara Kingsolver as the guest speaker. (She’s one of my daughter’s favorite authors, so Sandra gets to come along!) But really, the JRW Conference will, as usual, feature an impressive A-list of award-winners and bestselling stars. Check out the full list and register.

RVAWriters-300x83I’m also giving a standing ovation to JRW for a adding a new way to share the fun of book geekdom with the community.  RVA Hearts Writers will put their conference authors all over the city to offer free workshops and panels on everything from diversity in kid lit, to the Muppets, historical fiction, and the ins and outs of self-publishing.  Check out all you can learn.  The fact is that artists of all types have always made communities more interesting and vibrant. Nice to see the literary arts so well-repp’d in that effort.

Happy reading!

Cariños de,

Meg

Birds of a Feather…

1_busboys_logo300I’m checking out another great indi bookstore. It’s Busboys and Poets  in Washington, DC, and I’m going to their 14th and V location for the first time this Friday.

That’s because it’s time for the awards ceremony for the Las Américas prize. This year, top prize went to the lovely picture book Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Susan Roth and Cindy Trumbore, an especially delightful pick from Lee and Low, a smaller publisher that has long been advocating and promoting diverse children’s literature.

main_parrotsfc-w-sealIt’s the story of the near extinction of wild parrots in Puerto  Rico and how that sad situation was turned around. I hope you’ll stop in to the Young Readers Center at the Library of Congress to see an exhibit of the book and its art, which runs through the end of October.

As part of the festivities, Las Américas also sponsors an annual educator workshop – hosted by Busboys and Poets – where teachers and librarians can get hands-on ideas and materials for bringing high quality Latino literature into their classroom or library. I’m so happy to be able to present alongside Duncan Tonatiuh this year. (9:30 – noon). Duncan won honorable mention, as well as a Pura Belpré Honor medal, for his exquisite book Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale. My own novel, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, was selected as a commended title this year (along with all of these).

If you’re a teacher or librarian, it’s not too late to register. The reasonable $25 registration fee gets you breakfast, a free book, and ideas from Duncan and me on how to use our books in the classroom to help students explore culture and identity. (Registration info here: I’ll even have swag, people.

I know it’s a busy time at the start of a school year. And I know it’s easy to think that you don’t really need a workshop like this if you’ve got mostly non-Latino students. But please consider this:  Empathy is part of the 21st century skill set, and books give kids a chance to build that. There’s nothing like getting inside someone else’s skin for a while to help you consider new points of view.

Anyway, I’ll be trekking up on my favorite Amtrak. (I love you DC, but you can keep your traffic!) Hope you can be there. And don’t forget, you can join us for the author reception, 3 PM – 5 PM inside the Pickford Theater/Madison Building of the Library of Congress. Please email here to say you’re coming: dwolteri@tulane.edu

See you then!

Cariños de,

Meg

Directions to Busboys and Poets: U Street Metrorail stop Yellow/Green line

PDF on the teacher workshops: aateacherworkshop

iguacaparrotflightcagetouched670

Women’s Media Center Live

womens-media-center-wmc-live-with-robin-morgan-300webMy third grade art teacher was the first woman I ever knew to put “Ms.” before her name. I remember almost nothing about her except that astounding decision – and the fact that she let us dance to Helen Reddy’s  I Am Woman for our after school club performance. She was probably the first feminist I ever met, and thankfully she left an imprint on her little charges. A few years later, I was already reading my sister’s Ms. Magazines, and eventually I went on to a life that’s been about writing stories that in one way or another advocate for girls. Law

So this weekend, when I was featured on the Women’s Media Center Live podcast, I was thrilled. WMCL is a weekly broadcast out of DC. It’s a project of a larger initiative called the Women’s Media Center which was founded in 2005 by feminist icons Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda and Robin Morgan. What I like about the podcast is that the guests are widely varied, (Anita Hill, Jimmy Carter, just two quick examples). I also like that Robin Morgan tackles any thorny topic with grace and brains.

You can catch it every Saturday morning, but you can download episodes via i-tunes if you miss the 11 am EST stream. This week, Robin and I talked about lots of things: Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, how librarians are truly the butt-kicking heroes,  Girls of Summer, REFORMA, and my favorite lists for finding pro-girl multicultural books. Check out Women’s Center Live on Facebook or twitter (@wmclive). Subscribe and enjoy!

Here’s the link to their archives.

You Want More Diverse Lit: Step 2

You’re on a quest for more diverse literature for the young people in your life? Last week, I pointed you to CBC Diversity. Here’s the next thing you can do: Make a point to meet the authors, editors, bloggers, and librarians with a passion for that area. Seek them out. Make relationship. We’re friendly.

Sarah Guillory, Ellen Oh and me. NOVA Teen Book Fest

Sarah Guillory, Ellen Oh and me. NOVA Teen Book Fest

Example: This past week I met Ellen Oh (among other amazing YA authors) at the Northern Virginia Teen Book Festival – and it didn’t take long for us two former New Yorkers to start putting our heads together on what we can do in the Mid Atlantic region to promote multicultural lit to all kids. She pubs with HarperTeen, and her latest is Warrior, which features Kira, a dragon-slaying ancient Korean girl on a quest. Ellen is kind of a dragon slayer, too. She’s from Brooklyn, by her own admission speaks lousy Korean, and is determined to break stereotypes. Stay tuned.

4104444I’m on the road this week to the National Latino Children’s Literature Conference held at the University of Alabama. That would be Tuscaloosa…which means cars, planes, vans to get there. It’s absolutely worth it, as far as I’m concerned. (Look at the lineup.) It’s the brainchild of Dr. Jamie Campbell Naidoo who has published widely on Latino lit, but also on the power of diverse books in general. I’ll be talking about YAQUI, the Pura Belpré prize, and what my own plans are to help authors and librarians reach wider audiences. I’ll also be meeting library science students, bloggers, and fellow authors who love what I love and who work hard at it, too. In the end, we all make the tapestry together. 

Dr. Jamie Naidoo's 2013 release

Dr. Jamie Naidoo’s 2013 release

So, something for you to ponder: When you choose conferences to attend, are you looking for those that feature multicultural authors in the lineup?

If you plan conferences, are you making significant efforts to include diverse authors beyond discussions about culturally specific literature?

Hmmmm….more soon! Off to the airport!

Cariños de,

Meg

Yaqui, Pura Belpré and Me

Here is what it looks like when a dream comes true. photo

This blurry “selfie” was taken on a Richmond-bound Amtrak train, two minutes after getting the news that I had won the 2014 Pura Belpré Award. I was on my way home from the ALA Midwinter Conference on Sunday night when my cellphone rang and Ruth Tobar, chair of the selection committee, gave me the good news. I was  promptly sworn to secrecy until the next day. Obviously, Gigi guessed what all my Spanish and crying was about; thank goodness she’s a steel trap.

Yaqui with medalThank you so much, everyone, for the tsunami of good wishes. (And thank you, Ms. Espinal, President of REFORMA (the ALA’s affiliate group that focuses on library services for Latino youth and families) for saying “ass” with such courage and gusto from the podium!) It’s an honor beyond belief to receive this award alongside some of the most talented people working in children’s publishing today. (Full list of ALA Youth Media winners here.) Un abrazo fuerte for: Yuyi Morales, Margarita Engle, Matt De la Peña, Duncan Tonatiuh, Angela Dominguez, and Rafael Lopez.

Pura Belpré winner for illustration

Pura Belpré winner for illustration

Margarita Engle Matt de la Peña

pancho rabbit Tito Puente by Monica Brown MariaLlama

Other pieces of good news continue to come in for YAQUI,  but for now I’m off to a Banned Books and Brews event at Longwood University this weekend to help raise funds for the Virginia Children’s Book Festival which will bring some pretty big names to Virginia in the fall. A drink doesn’t sound like such a bad idea right about now.

¡Salud!

(Check out the awards. FYI, the Pura Belpré starts just after 38)

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