Latina writer of books for kids of all ages.

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.

It’s April. How are you celebrating kids and books, or should I say niños y libros?

You’ve heard me speak on this blog before about the importance of supporting the annual Día de los Niños Dia de los Libros events every April. Libraries all over the country will have special programming to support multicultural books and kids, which you can check out by typing in your zip code on the official Día site.

But this year, the Library of Congress – the grand dame of libraries –  is doing a live, national webcast in honor of Día, too. It will feature scholars and authors, with a special focus on the spectacular lives and contributions of powerhouse Latinx librarians Arturo Schomburg and Pura Belpré. The pdf is here. (DiaProgramDescription short_sdw .)If you hurry, you can be part of it.

Just in case you’re not familiar, Schomburg and Belpré were AfroLatino librarians who advocated for justice and diverse children’s literature during the Harlem Renaissance. They were contemporaries and friends – and they saw the same problems in terms of lack of material that truly represented their communities. Their legacy endures in the formidable collections they left behind and in the medal named in their honor.

Pura Belpré storytelling at La Casita Maria community center in East Harlem

Here’s the lineup.

Dr. Marilisa Jimenez of Lehigh University who specializes in Latinx literature and in the contributions of Schomburg and Belpré;

Carole Boston Weatherford and Eric Velasquez, the decorated author and illustrator team who brought us the award-winning picture book, Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library (Candlewick Press 2017;)

Representatives from the (stunning) Hispanic Reading Room at the Library of Congress, who will share some of the holdings in the LOC’s collection;

and me, speaking on giving kids access to their heroes and to their libraries.

If you want your organization to be part of the live interactive videoconference (so you can ask questions, etc.) questions, etc.) go here.

Only four slots are left, so don’t wait.

 

 

Event: Dia de los Niños Videoconference at the Library of Congress

Date:  Monday, April 30, 2018

Time:  3:00 PM – 4:10 PM EST

Ok, Burn Baby Burn is out in paperback next week, and to celebrate I’m heading back to the scene of the crime, so to speak, for some fun.

First stop is Harlem on March 27, 7 pm, as part of the Authors in Conversation series at the hallowed grounds of the Langston Hughes House. I’m so grateful to Renée Watson for the invitation to appear at the i too arts collective, an organization that preserves this space as a place to connect young writers with their voice, with their history and with their heroes.

It’s a ticketed event, with proceeds going to support the center. You can get tickets here  Don’t wait.  That’s because I’ll be  appearing with Elizabeth Acevedo, whose spoken word shows sell out in minutes. Her debut novel, The Poet X, hit shelves this month, too. It’s a powerful novel-in-verse, set in the Bronx, about all we Latinx girls know about: family, men, and the million ways we’re boxed in by how the world defines Latina. Elizabeth is a powerhouse on stage, and I can’t wait to hear her share from her book. But, I’m also really wanting to drill down into what our characters, Nora and Xiomara, are both coping with, what we’re saying to readers about being women, and just generally what’s next as we move through publishing.

From there, it’s off to Brooklyn, where I’ll be doing a writing workshop with the middle school sweeties at P.S. 89 and then heading to the gorgeous main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library (Grand Army Plaza) to meet with 180 third graders.

The final present to myself?  A big slice of cheesy, can’t-be-found-elsewhere, Brooklyn pizza.