Latina writer of books for kids of all ages.

It’s here! NCTE! 

We’re in Houston, where the hispanic or Latinx population is around 43%. So I’m thrilled that most of the panels and round tables where I’ll be speaking are centered squarely on the Latinx experience. From nerds to bad-ass girls – here they are:

Thursday, Nov 16, 2018

1:00-2:15 Latinx Experiences in Classrooms and Communities: Knowing Our Students through Text-Based Conversations across Picture Books, Middle Grade, and YA Book Clubs (Organized by Dr. Carla España) with Luz Herrera, NoNieqa Ramos,  Lilliam Rivera, Meg Medina,  R. Joseph Rodríguez Room 362 DEF

Friday, Nov 17, 2018

The Nerdtalk Speakers Summer 2018

9:30-10:45 a.m. Nerdy Book Club: Building Strong, Inclusive Reading Communities Chairs: Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp. Room 340 AB 

11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m. “Más Fuerte Together: A Roundtable on the state of Latinx Publishing & Readers.” Roundtable 5: Girl Power, “Latinidad, and the Contemporary YA Novel: Where it All Meets, with Meg Medina and Lilliam Rivera.” Room 352 DEF

2:00-3:15 p.m. “Policy and Governance: Teachers as Advocates, Creating Change from the Ground Up” Speaking on “Using Latinx Literature to Connect Students to Their History, Power, and Voice,” with Meg Medina, Juana Martinez-Neal and Cindy L. Rodriguez  Room 352 DEF 

4:30 – 5:30 pm. Signing at Candlewick booth #223

Saturday, Nov 18

12:30-1:45 p.m. “Fierce: A Conversation with Five Authors Writing Strong Latinas”  Organized by Lilliam Rivera (includes Lilliam Rivera, Meg Medina, Elizabeth Acevedo, Isabel Quintero) Room 361 EF

2:45-4:00 p.m. “Beyond Baseball, Basketball, and Día de los Muertos: Depicting the Everyday Lived Realities of Diverse Families in Children’s Picture Books” Chair: Angie Zapata (CLA), with Meg Medina, Matt de la Peña, Derrick Barnes, Karla Möller, Dan Santat  Room 362 ABC

7- 9 pm. Latinx in Publishing free social. (See info below)*

Sunday, Nov 19

10:00 – 11:15 am “Community and Collective Action through Recent Latinx Children’s Literature” With Noni Ramos,   Margarita Engle, Emma Otheguy, Meg Medina, David Bowles Room 361 EF

*Kick back and join us for a free social on Saturday night. The night is going to be emceed by Pablo Cartaya, so ya saben, it’s going to to be great. Snacks, authors, readings, chisme. ¿Para que decirles?  But please RSVP here so we know what to expect.  

 

And finally, please don’t forget to say hello to authors at their signings. Here is Candlewick’s line up below. Mine is Friday, 4:30 – 5:30, but check out the other action at the booth (#223) all weekend, too.

 

 

See you there! Safe travels!

 

 

 

 

Ah, November. The utter hell of elections is behind us – Can you say “swing state?” – so now we can turn our thoughts to Turkey Day, apple pie and stretchy pants.

That’s my plan, just as soon as I wrap up the last appearance for the 2018 Merci Suarez Changes Gears book tour at NCTE next week. (Post coming Monday with the nitty gritty details.)

 

But for now, here are a couple of things I’ve been meaning to post.

First, a podcast:  Don’t sweat it if Merci still on your TBR pile, friends. Mine is sky high, too. One option is to click over to Candlewick Press Presents on i-tunes, where they have a terrific library of their authors talking. (It’s a teacher’s dream spot!) We covered a lot of ground in 43 minutes – Merci and everything else you might want to know about my writing. I hope you’ll enjoy. 

Second, just a random collection of photographs from the road. There are so many moments that slipped by without an image, which seems impossible considering how we’re all attached to our phones. But here are a few. I’m so grateful for all the kids, teachers, families, and fellow writers that I meet along the way.  Are some of your favorites here?

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Cooler weather, pansies, and pumpkin-everything are on my mind as we head into Labor Day weekend, but this year, I also have a new book. And while it has felt like a long year of nail biting, here we are. How do I handle all that pre-publication angst? Here’s a little clip. Say what you will, though, bookmarks are useful. And I didn’t lose my mind, just the pads on my fingertips!

 

But the big news this week is the National Book Festival in Washington, DC

Merci Suarez Changes Gears officially hits shelves on September 11, but if you drop by the festival this weekend, you’ll be able to get your hands on early release copies. (Thanks, Candlewick!) 

The festival  is free and easy to get to via Metro (Mount Vernon Square stop on the Yellow/Green lines.) Wander around all day and listen to authors deliver bite-sized presentations (about 25 minutes) on their new books. I’ll be taking the stage at 3:55 pm to talk unwieldy families, bikes, and books. 

Which reminds me:  We’re getting close to doing the drawing for the bike raffle in honor of Merci Suarez’s pub date. Remember, I’m raffling off a brand new mountain bike and helmet in a sweepstakes that’s open to kids 8 – 12. So if you’re in Virginia or are willing to drive to Richmond to pick it up, make sure kids you know enter through bbgb’s site by September 10. (It’s a gorgeous blue set of wheels and it’s completely free to enter!)   

820 TREK mountain bike

And for those of you who still want to pre-order, we have bike bells and other swag here once your pre-order at the venue of your choice. 

 

 

Where to catch Meg in September:

Sat, September 1, 2018,  National Book Festival, Washington Convention Center, Washington, DC, Children’s Green Stage, 3:55 pm – 4:20 PM, signing at 5 pm.

September 15, 2018, Brooklyn Book Festival, Children’s Day, MetroTech Center, Brooklyn, New YorkFriday September 21 – 23, 2018, SCBWI Wisconsin Conference, Green Lake, WI.

Monday, September 24 – 25, 2018 Wisconsin Book Festival via Madison Public Library and Friends of the CCBC

September 30 – October 1, 2018 Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures.

 

 

Straight up. It has been a tough summer.

Three weeks ago, while I was on my annual beach vacation, my aunt, Tia Isa, collapsed.  Her legs had been weakening for a while, and now , at last, they stopped working just as she was being helped from the bathroom to her wheelchair. By the time I returned, she was also struggling with a deep cough I didn’t like. It rattled in her chest and made her wheeze. So, before I had unpacked a single thing, we drove to the hospital where we spent the next six days trying to stabilize her.

I’m ashamed to confess that for a good while I have nursed the fantasy that my aunt would simply go to sleep one night and not awaken.  I wanted a peaceful exit for a lady who has been so unfailingly kind and generous to her entire family over a lifetime. I wanted to spare her and me the fear and indignities that sometimes go hand-in-hand with a failing body.

But life isn’t fiction, even for a writer. And so, in the last few weeks, as I’ve canceled engagements and changed diapers and stared at the ceiling all night, I’ve had to face what’s really ahead.

Luckily, there is not a crisis I’ve had where the kindness of people hasn’t shone through.  Texts and supportive emails have come from the few people who know what’s happening.  Folks like Lin Oliver have graciously allowed me to cancel appearances that had been planned months ago. My husband and children stepped up in every way – beyond what I ever imagined. And most important, my Tía Isa and I have had the privacy to talk about what she really wants with regard to palliative care.

I am writing this from Maine, hours away from tia Isa, where I am a guest author of Island Readers and Writers. When it was time to decide whether to travel to Acadia National Park this week to work with children at the Blueberry Harvest School, I wavered. But as Tía finally stabilized a bit, my family, including Tia Isa herself, were adamant. Go. Rest.  We’ve got this.

Possibly the best gift came from my middle daughter, Sandra, who put me on the plane with a book in hand. It’s Being Mortal  by Dr. Atul Gawande (Thorndike Press, 2014), which she’s reading for her nursing program at VCU. How do we help the people we love exert control over this last act of their lives? How can we help them not necessarily lengthen their lives, but instead live the days that remain in a way that has meaning to them?  Using both research and personal story, it describes the history of how we have managed –or failed to manage– end-of-life care. Dr. Gawande draws the complexities, from finances to the actual burden on family members , and also offers alternatives to how we help people make decisions about their last days.

Here in Maine with Javier, I’ve read quietly, turning to this lovely book for solace. We’ve walked trails in Acadia National Park in contemplative silence and stared at the ocean, thinking about both his mom and Tía Isa. I’ve had the chance to behold nature at its most beautiful. I’ve thought a lot about love and family and death. I’ve given long hard thought to the irony of starting to lose Tía Isa in the weeks before I publish a book about having to lose someone we love.

And I’ve found a bit of peace with the uncertainty that’s ahead.

So, this morning, I’ll meet lovely students, young people at the beginning of everything . As often happens when I’m in schools, we’ll talk about how we write, about where stories come from, about the role of roots and family in our lives and in our work. At times, presentations lose their freshness for the author. We say the same things so often that we struggle to remember that it’s new for the audience who is hearing it.

But this time, the words won’t feel automatic. They’ll feel so deeply true because they come from the acceptance that loss is also part of love in the long game.

Tía Isa and I having lunch at the rehab center.

And so in this way, Tía Isa will be with me, today and, I hope, always.

 

 

I’ve been keeping this secret for more than a month, and it has been killing me.

My new novel, Merci Surárez Changes Gears appears in bookstores  in September. Normally, that would mean a long, hot wait this summer – unless something really fun and distracting were to happen in between.

Something like a spectacular bike giveaway?

Yesssss.

Luckily, I have good accomplices for this project. With the help of my favorite local indie bbgb books, along with Agee’s Bicycle Shop in Carytown, and my publisher, Candlewick Press, we’re going fill the long wait to publication by running a sweepstakes for kids. The grand prize is a brand new mountain bike – along with a new helmet and water bottle, too.

Take a look at this Trek bike in what is possibly the sharpest looking blue I have ever seen. (Merci would say so, anyway. It’s the same color as her bike in the book.) You can glimpse it in the window of the shop if you like (corner of Cary and S. Sheppard.)

It will go to one lucky winner whose name will be drawn on September 11 – my book’s birthday – when we’ll gather at bbgb and announce the winner. And don’t worry if you’re not the grand prize winner. Three runners up will get spoke light kits, a copy of the book, and other swag.  

You can go here to enter and get all the rules. Remember, you  have to be able to pick up the bike in person. We can’t ship it.

Richmond boasts lots of bike trails in parks and neighborhoods, not to mention the grand Capital Bike Trail   between Richmond and Williamsburg. And the early fall weather will make “pedal power” a lot more appealing than it is during our humid summers. We’ll all have something to look forward to in September.

So download the flyer Media Sweepstakes_Qtr and enter today. Share the news widely with kids all over the city. Good luck!

 

 

 

 

June has been a busy month with Girls of Summer, followed by travel to Book Expo and the ALA annual conference, where I started introducing readers to my new middle grade novel, MERCI SUÁREZ CHANGES GEARS. The early reviews are strong (more on that when I can share), and so I’m hopeful that all is going to go well.

But I had a chance to sit back and reflect on something else today that reminded me again why so many of us write for children and, why in the end, it’s a privilege to do this work.

Last spring, I packed up my art supplies and laptop and had the pleasure of spending a whole week working with students at Carrboro Elementary School as a writer-in-residence through the University of North Carolina.

I’m almost never gone from home for a full week, but this time, that was the deal. The truth is that it’s hard to be on the road sometimes and away from my own family. But librarian Elizabeth Porter, graduate assistant Melissa Ferens and these sweet, hand-picked kids made the trip one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had. I dream about these little ones and wonder what is ahead for them. I still miss them.

The official video is below. Here, too, is the text of a draft of a poem written by “A,”one of my fourth grade girls. I’ve withheld the name to shield her privacy, but all of us who were there remember this powerful piece as she read it, open-hearted. I think it matters,  now more than ever, to think about how children are experiencing everything around them.

Juanito my godfather

How I call him padrino, godfather

Juan who is tall

who has short black hair that’s straight like mine.

Who has the same eyes as mine and had no mustache

Who wears no earrings because he think that is for girls.

Who has big hands.

Who spent his time working at a restaurant and made enough time for me and my siblings

even if he was tired.

 

Juanito my godfather

who said vamos a la panadería para comprar chuchulucos.

Juan who dreams of having papeles and dinero.

Who  wants me to get a good education and go to college,

so i don’t have to work in something that doesn’t bring enough money for necessaries. 

I remember at one time, every sabado o domingo

since he works in a pasta restaurant, he knew how to make the best pasta in the world.  

He would also give me money, but the money didn’t matter for me much.

Juanito who wanted papeles  

while I ate that yummy pasta from where he worked at Bricks.

 

I woke up this morning with that song in my head, which is horrible, but June is, in fact, looking exciting on my end. Here’s the news.  

BEA AND BOOK CON

I’ll be at Book Expo America and BookCon to introduce MERCI SUÁREZ CHANGES GEARS. Here are the highlights so we can cross paths:

Children’s Breakfast, Friday, June 1, 2018 8 am, Javitz Special Events Hall

I’ll share some of what went into crafting that novel at the fancy children’s breakfast with fellow panelists Jacqueline Woodson, Dave Eggers, Yuyi Morales, and Viola Davis. (Gulp.)

Latinx BookExpo Party, Friday June 1, 6 – 8 PM, at La Biblioteca (622 3rd Avenue, between 40 and 41 St)

If you want to decompress and surround yourself with friends and love, please join us for drinks, micro-readings, a raffle, and fun. It’s an event sponsored by Latinx in Publishing and Duende District books. Free, but you should register. ¡Vengan!

Wonder Women panel (Saturday, June 2, Javits, Room 1E16; 3:45 PM.) Woot! Where are my tights? With Kate DiCamillo, Shannon Hale, T.R. Simon, and Jessica Spotswood

The scoop on signings:

Friday, June 1, 2018

Signing galleys of Merci Suárez Changes Gears  

  • 10 am – 11 am, Immediately following the breakfast (ABA member lounge)
  • 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm, Candlewick booth # 2021

Saturday, June 2, 2018

  • 10:15 am – 11:15 am (Autograph Area tables 7 & 8) with Shannon Hale, Kate DiCamillo, T.R. Simon and Jessica Spotswood. This is where you can get paperbacks of Burn Baby Burn (new this year) and more important, where you can pre-order Merci Suárez Changes Gears and get a signed bookplate.
  • 12:30 pm  – 1:30 pm (Candlewick booth 2021) The first 50 people get a free copy of Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass. All my paperback titles will be on hand, too.
Social media:

There’s an app to download, fyi.

Please use @TheBookCon/#BookCon @BookExpoAmerica/#BookExpo/@Meg_Medina/MegMedinaBooks on instagram


On the horizon:

Meg’s next appearances:

Girls of Summer:  The book party of the year for book lovin’ girls!  Wednesday, June 20, 2018, Richmond Public Library. Special guest, Selina Alko!

 

American Library Association Conference, New Orleans, June 22 – 24, 2018. Beignets, coffee and Michelle Obama, here I come! So excited to be in the audience for the Newbery and the Pura Belpré ceremonies! I’ll post the schedule soon.

Shenandoah University Children’s Literature Conference:  Thursday, June 27, 2018. So many incredible authors coming that week! Check it.