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Awards and news

Happy Book Birthday, Merci Suárez!

By Appearances, Awards and news
Happy book birthday to Merci Suárez Can't Dance!  It's a busy week recording podcasts that will air later in the month, as well as taping a segment for the Bay Area Book Festival with the fabulous Olugbemisola Rhuday Perkovich (Two Naomis, It Does't Take a Genius,) where we'll be interviewed by young writers from Cinnamon Girl, Inc. But, here is where you can find me this week, celebrating books and writing with some of my favorite friends. Wed April 7, 7:15 PM EST in conversation with R.J Palacio via Parnassus Books Fri, April 9: LA Libreria event with Pam Muñoz Ryan via LA Librería Sat, April 10 4 PM ET/ 3 PM CT in conversation with Linda Sue Park via Brazos Bookstore ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Full details on book tour on Events page. You might like a playlist for Merci Suárez Can't Dance
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Volemos: A New SCBWI Grant for Upcoming Latinx Authors

By Awards and news, Latino Life
If you're an aspiring or early career Latinx author,  there's some new support for you. In partnership with the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), I've created a small grant called Volemos: The Meg Medina Grant. We'll be accepting submissions this month for the first time, so if you've got a picture book manuscript or a strong sample of your next novel, hurry and submit. Full submission guidelines are here.  I've been a member of SCBWI for most of my writing career. I entered the field before social media was a force (if you can even conceptualize that). Back then, I couldn't have told you what an agent did or what on earth a query letter was. More important, I didn't know any other children's book creators who could guide me or offer me an example of how to do this work. To pursue my passions felt as unlikely as pursuing a trip to Mars. A lot has changed for me over the years. I've found out that publishing is a combination of art, hardcore business skills, and community, all of which I honed with SCBWI's help. It's also a business where Latinx voices continue to be woefully underrepresented despite the growing number of new organizations and platforms now available to us. I'm proud to serve on the Board of Advisors for SCBWI and to partner with them in supporting my literary community. The organization is looking forward as it starts its 50th year in existence, and so...
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Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away Wins the 2021 Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature

By Awards and news, picture books
On Friday, Hollins University, here in Virginia, announced that my picture book, Evelyn Del Rey is Moving Away, has won the 2021 Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children's Literature. The honor book this year is Christian Robinson's You Matter (Atheneum 2020). I'm delighted to be honored with Christian whose work I so admire. And I  am so grateful to the many friends and colleagues who sent sweet messages my way as soon as they saw the news on social media. Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away has enjoyed success beyond what I could have ever predicted - which goes to prove that, in publishing, your career includes so many things that you can't control. I wrote the book remembering my childhood friends, and I was sure it would be turn out to be a quiet book that would resonate with a core of readers. What I didn't know, of course, was that Covid 19 would upend our lives and make us long for our loved ones in new ways. I didn't know that kids might need an emotional roadmap on how to stay connected with friends. I didn't know that Jumpstart's "Read for the Record" would come along and bring the story to millions of kids. The medal is a beautiful honor also because it's named for Margaret Wise Brown, who graduated from Hollins in 1932, and went on to write Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and other children’s classics before she died suddenly, doing a can-can kick that caused an...
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Evelyn Del Rey se muda is an Audie Finalist

By Awards and news, picture books
This week, I got a note from Candlewick telling me that Evelyn Del Rey se muda has been named an Audie finalist in the Spanish language category. The Audie’s are the highest award in audiobooks, and this year they received over 1500 submissions across all categories, the largest amount they have ever received. The news has come at such a poignant time. It has been almost a year since my friend, Teresa Mlawer, the celebrated Spanish language publishing icon, passed away. Even if you’re not up to speed on publishing en español, you’ll recognize her name as the translator of many famous children’s books, like Where the Wild Things Are and Harold and the Purple Crayon. I’m proud to say that she was also the translator of most of my own books, including Evelyn Del Rey se muda, bringing to each work the vocabulary and idioms of Cuban Spanish, the language I hear in my heart whenever I write about family. Evelyn, Teresa told me when we last spoke, was the final book project that she would work on. Many beautiful things have happened to the English edition of Evelyn Del Rey is Moving Away, but I am proud to say, that with Teresa’s fine translation, the Spanish edition has been well-received, too. It was recently named by Bank Street College as one of the best Spanish-language picture books for kids in 2020. And now, of course, we have this unexpected nomination for an Audie. I want to point here to...
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Read for the Record: Join the whole wide world as we read Evelyn del Rey is Moving Away

By #LetsStayConnected, Appearances, Awards and news
Art by Sonia Sanchez, Evelyn Del Rey is Moving Away It's here! Read for the Record Day, when millions of readers will read EVELYN DEL REY IS MOVING AWAY and spend a day enjoying activities with little ones. Here is the official virtual schedule from Jumpstart, which has events throughout the day - including readings, arts and crafts and even yoga! This page will be updated in real-time as each event takes place on social media. If you want to follow along on Facebook, you can have the Jumpstart page open. And check out my Jumpstart landing page for more resources. But another truly exciting aspect are all the other events going on worldwide. Your best bet is to follow the #readfortherecord hashtag on twitter where you'll get the exact times and virtual locations of other readings, such as Sonia Manzano, as well as Hugh Jackman, and Alejandra Espinosa from Univisión and many more. I'll be closing out the evening at the Orange County Public Library in California at 7 pm ET/4 pm PT I'm a bag of nerves, but thrilled. Happy reading and thank you for joining in the fun with your little ones! Everyone at my house is ready for Read for the Record
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Where’s Meg this week: Neustadt Conference, VA Children’s Book Festival, and SCBWI

By Appearances, Awards and news
Hi everyone - Here's a quick run-down of my appearances  and newsworthy updates for this week. L-R: Laurie Halse Anderson, Eric Gansworth, me, Linda Sue Park, Mitali Perkins, Jason Reynolds, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Laurel Snyder, and Alex Wheatle The Neustadt conference and prize announcement, today through Oct 21: I’m lucky and proud to be among nine finalists nominated for the Neustadt Prize in Children’s Literature. This week, we find out who wins. Now virtual, you can register and enjoy conference sessions over a three-day period, from today, Oct 19, to Wednesday evening, October 21, when the winners are announced. Register here. [Added after original post] Jumpstart Read for the Record Virtual Panel, Tues, Oct 20, 6 - 7:30 PM EST: I'll be joining nationally-recognized academics and policy-makers in early childhood education to discuss how to support our youngest learners during the pandemic. We'll be focusing on learning in a virtual environment, supporting kids' social and emotional health, and supporting racial justice. Register here.  VA Children’s Book Festival, Wed., Oct 21, 1 pm EST: Are you a fan of R.J. Palacio and her international bestseller, Wonder?  Yeah, me too – and that's been true since we were elementary school BFFs. We’re together at the Virginia Children’s Book Festival this week thanks to a pre-recorded session about being best friends, our latest books, and why on earth Yoo Hoo was ever a popular drink. Register here. SCBWI New England, Thursday, Oct 22, 7 - 8:30 PM EST:  Two authors, two editors, one...
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2019 Richmond Times-Dispatch People of the Year Award

By Appearances, Awards and news, Community work
Meg Medina and Rodney Robinson, RTD 2019 People of the Year, Photo credit: Clement Britt On Monday, I had the enormous surprise and pleasure of being named Richmond Times-Dispatch Person of Year. I share this honor along with Rodney Robinson, who is the 2019 National Teacher of the Year. It feels especially sweet to be named together with Rodney as both of us work with the needs of young people at heart. Here’s to Richmond’s children! I hope you’ll take the time to read about the contributions that all 24 honorees have made to our community this year. I think you’ll see why I feel so lucky and humbled to have been named to this auspicious group. It was a shock when we were revealed as the recipients. Neither one of us was told we had won in advance – which makes the fact that there was a “reveal” video pretty amazing. It was all thanks to an undercover web of elaborate lies from Lewis Brissman at the Richmond Times Dispatch, who I now know has the ultimate poker face. Photo credit: Alexa Welch Edlund/Richmond Times-DispatchPhoto credit: Clement BrittPhoto credit: Clement BrittPhoto credit: Clement Britt Prev 1of4 Next It’s safe to say that 2019 has been one of the most memorable of my entire professional life. It began in January with the Newbery Award and now winds down with this beautiful show of respect from my hometown. Thank you, Times-Dispatch, for the recognition and for the terrific event at the...
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What an honor!

By Awards and news, Community work
Wow, wow, wow! This year has been something else. And now I am delighted to share that the Richmond Times-Dispatch has included me alongside a number of other Richmond citizens, as an honoree for their Person of the Year! Every year, the newspaper selects servant-leaders and others who strengthen and highlight the Richmond region. Wow. I am delighted to share this space with so many wonderful people and am grateful to the Richmond Times-Dispatch for acknowledging my work. Meanwhile, I am off on a much needed vacation and will look forward to celebrating with everyone once I am back home! Until then, all my love.  
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Check out my new site – plus the Newbery speech and other goodies

By Appearances, Awards and news, The Writing Life

Welcome to my  new website!  After cobbling together a blog for a while now, I’ve given myself a fresh look that’s bright, clean, and easy. For my first news post, I’m offering the link to my Newbery speech (the official version), as well as photos from the entire  celebration, which can only be described as a huge, life-affirming love fest.

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Wimps and Winners: Getting Ready for This Week’s Award’s Ceremony

By Appearances, Awards and news, The Writing Life
This is the one week I've been thinking about for a while. First, I had a terrific weekend in Massachusetts. The first stop was with illustrator Angela Dominguez at Adventures in Storytelling, an event with the Girls Scouts Eastern Massachusetts Division. We joined forces with staff from Candlewick Press to give an inside look at how a book goes from an idea to the book you buy at your favorite indie. I also celebrated Father’s Day morning with readers at An Unlikely Story, the epic indie bookstore owned by Julie and Jeff Kinney, creator of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid empire. What a store!  Jeff was on his way to write in a cemetery for the day (as fathers do on special holidays?) but he stopped by to wish me luck before my event. His bookstore is easily the most beautiful indie I have seen so far in my travels. Every detail is lush and playful. See for yourself,  and put this on your to-be-visited list. Yes. A drum kit in the ceiling.Even the staircase is gorgeousA sound proof booth for phone meetings!a model of the wimpy kid Macy's parade floatJeff's desk on the second floorA super cafe insideView from across the street of An Unlikely StoryThe stage has great lighting, acoustics, and morewith owner Jeff Kinney Prev 1of12 Next Looking forward, though, the big news now is that we’ve arrived at the American Library Association’s Annual Meeting, where I’ll officially receive the Newbery medal. AGH! I'm in a...
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Events! Events! Events! Join me in Las Vegas, New York City or Washington DC

By Appearances, Awards and news, middle grade, The Writing Life, young adult

I’ve recently had several glorious weeks filled with family, local friends, beautiful spring weather and time to write. It’s been wonderful. BUT, I will be hitting the road again soon and I so hope to see you in one of my upcoming events. If you’re near Las Vegas on May 29th and 30th, join Padma Venkatraman, Phil Bildner and me at the 2019 Summit on Teaching YA Literature at the University of Nevada. Next up, I’ll be jetting to New York City for this year’s ever-popular BookCon on June 1st! Join Tracey Baptiste, Soman Chainani, Raina Telgemeier and me for a conversation about the very best in middle grade. Soon after, I will be in the best company with my friends and well-respected authors Elizabeth Acevedo and Robin Benway for an evening conversation at Politics & Prose Bookstore at the Wharf. We’ll chat about our writing and how our personal experiences and recent awards have influenced our work. See you there? Check out my calendar of events for more details and other upcoming dates. Until then, I’ll have my head down working and enjoying my family and, of course, taking long walks with Hugo.    

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Celebrating my Newbery with Richmond peeps and Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg

By Awards and news, The Writing Life

For several months now (and on into the rest of this year), I’ve had the pleasure of traveling all over the country to talk to teachers, librarians and students about my books, especially Merci Suárez Changes Gears. What I haven’t been able to do enough is celebrate the Newbery with my local friends and family in Richmond.  So, if you’re here in RVA or nearby, won’t you please join me and Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg on Saturday, May 25th at 11am at the lovely Libbie Mill Library?  I know it’s Memorial Day weekend, but I’d love to see you there before you head off to your barbeques so that we can have a chance to say hello. Bring along your copy of Merci and I’ll be happy to sign it for you! And my thanks to Delegate VanValkenburg for House Joint Resolution No. 934 and the honor of his commending resolution in the Virginia Legislature. It means so much to me for my work to be honored in such a way.  Location: Libbie Mill Library, 2100 Libbie Lake East St, Richmond, VA 23230 When:  Saturday, May 25, 2019 Time:  11 am Free and open to the public More info:  804 501-1940 Directions here

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Recording Gratitude

By Awards and news, The Writing Life

I took a ride downtown yesterday to In Your Ear Studios here in Richmond, VA, where I recorded my acceptance speech for the 2019 Newbery Award.  Hands down, this speech was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to shape into words.  How do you properly thank everyone who has helped you along the way and still make it bearable for the audience?   I’ll share the text when I’m allowed to. For now, though, know that I talked about… bikes and life and books.         

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A chat with Jennifer Laughran at a.k.a. Literaticast. Take a listen!

By Appearances, Awards and news, Latino Life, picture books, The Writing Life

Last week, I had the pleasure of chatting with literary agent Jennifer Laughran over on her podcast where she chats about all things kidlit with those of us in the industry. If you don’t subscribe, do so fast. Jennifer gathers publishing people from across the spectrum, so you get the benefit of understanding this business from multiple perspectives. For our segment, we talked about Merci Suárez and her family. We chatted about creativity and writing for kids of all ages. We touched on world-building in realistic fiction. I explained the importance of community for me especially in the world of social media. I made a few book recommendations, too, and of course, my dog and writing partner briefly joined the conversation. Happy Monday everyone!

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The Theme of Last Week: Video!

By Appearances, Awards and news, Community work, Film work, picture book, middle grade, YA, The Writing Life

I had the hair-raising experience of being on BuzzFeed live for their #AM2DM program. I followed Corey Booker, who had smart ideas but somehow couldn’t name the ingredients in a Margarita. (Really, hermano? All that political know-how aside, how is that possible?) Anyway, they were merciful and kept my comments to Merci Suárez Changes Gears. Here’s the link of the whole segment. It’s about five or six minutes, I think.

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It’s All a Blur: on winning the Newbery medal this week

By Awards and news

First of all, thank you everyone for the joy you shared with me all week. Your calls, tweets, messages, emails, flowers, and presents have been so generous and loving. I don’t know how to explain the feeling of having you all behind me in this experience. Book friends, librarians, old students, my kids’ friends, teachers, former colleagues from past careers, people at the gym, our dog trainer, relatives – the list goes on. I wish my arms were big enough to throw around you all.  All I can really say is thank you for making the experience of winning the Newbery medal truly unforgettable. I hope I do you proud this year.

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Take that winter! Burn Baby Burn a 2016 LA Times Book Prize Finalist

By Appearances, Awards and news, The Writing Life

A wonderful surprise to beat back my February blues, which have really been a challenge this year. Burn Baby Burn was named a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize today. It’s quite a list, including the award-sweeping MARCH by John Lewis, so I’m especially honored – and also not envious of the judges. The fun/harrowing thing is that you don’t know who actually wins until the day of the event. So stay tuned for April 21 at the kick off for the LA Times Book Festival this year. Thank you, LA Times, for inclusion on this lovely and thought-provoking list. And thank you, Candlewick, for my brand NEW pair of disco ball earring to wear for the occasion. I’ll be traveling west with my editor, Kate Fletcher, to attend the ceremony. Fingers crossed ( and TUMS in my purse.) Press release here. Young Adult Literature Socorro Acioli/ Daniel Hahn (Translator), The Head of the Saint, Delacorte Julie Berry, The Passion of Dolssa, Viking Books for Young Readers Frances Hardinge, The Lie Tree, Harry N. Abrams John Lewis. Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell, March: Book Three, Top Shelf Productions Meg Medina, Burn, Baby, Burn, Candlewick

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For All the Nasty Women and Girls: The 2017 Amelia Bloomer Top Ten

By Awards and news, The Writing Life

I can’t tell you how exciting it feels to have Burn, Baby, Burn included in the Amelia Bloomer Top Ten list of 2017, especially on the heels of such an awe-inspiring weekend when we witnessed the mobilization of thousands upon thousands of women across the globe.  We have work to do – and we’re willing to do it. And for those of you who foolishly slept in this morning, here’s the link to the results of the ALA Youth Media Awards. I didn’t win any shiny stickers from ALA this year, but there are so many amazing titles here that did. Time to order up, folks. Congratulations to all the winners and their publishing teams!  

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Photo round-up of my post election travels

By Appearances, Awards and news, The Writing Life

Hi all – I’m heading to NCTE in Atlanta tomorrow, but my head is still buzzing from the election and all that it means for many of the vulnerable children and families that I meet in my life as an author. In the days to come, I’ll especially need to remind myself to balance aggravation with joy.  So here is a bit from the joyful side. Yesterday,  Burn Baby Burn was named a Best Book of 2016 by School Library Journal and also by Amazon. As you know, I was in NYC last week. My trip offered me really beautiful experiences at Bank Street College and also at the ever-fabulous Book Riot Live Conference, where people came from as far away as Australia and Sweden. I’ve pasted some of my favorite shots below – everything from political protest to utter joy and silliness. Other than that, my friends, I’ll touch base with you again in a few weeks. Hide the knives if you have to and enjoy a peaceful Thanksgiving with your families. Scenes from the Union Station subway station where citizens voiced their opposition to the election results

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To read your own or hire actors? My first audio book experience.

By Awards and news, The Writing Life

A happy day and a slightly disappointing day. First, a huge congratulations to all the authors who made the short list for the National Book Award this morning. Kate DiCamillo, Jason Reynolds, John Lewis/Andrew Ayden/Nate Powell, Grace Lin and Nicola Yoon have written beautiful books. I wish I had made the cut, too, but the truth is that every one of those authors is deserving. Standing ovation from over here in Richmond. So, this is how I spent my morning instead. I did my first audiobook recording at Red Amp 9WG Studios. I was reading the short story “Sol Painting Inc,” from Flying Lessons & Other Stories. The middle grade fiction collection, edited by Ellen Oh, is due on shelves in Jan 2017. So far, it’s gotten two starred reviews, so I’m hoping it makes its way into classrooms far and wide. I love the stories inside – so many styles and perspectives, which we sorely need. I wasn’t sure I could do an audio interpretation, but the draw for me was that it has always been strange to hear the characters inside my head in someone else’s voice. Still, there was the issue of whether I could stomach the sound of my own voice on an audio track. In the end, it was pretty painless, and the engineers and audio directors were great. This may turn me on to reading my own novels as audiobooks. Who knows? 

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!Ganamos! [Translation: We Won.] But, hmm, how about triunfamos?]

By Awards and news

You might have seen that the International Book Awards were announced on Friday. I’m a little late to the game because I was in Pennsylvania, But behold the (seriously long) list of amazing titles that have won and take note, mi gente, of the new voices coming to the table. If you’re unfamiliar with the work of these authors, please take the chance now to gather their books and enjoy. All the winners – some of them my heroes and dear friends (…looking at you Isabel Campoy, Pam Muñoz, Sonia Manzano, Margarita Engle, Daniel José Older, and more…) have my deepest respect and congratulations. So, I am excited to say that Mango Abuela and Me earned second place as best picture book in English, and Burn Baby Burn earned an honorable mention in Young Adult. But I am hugely proud to announce that Teresa Mlawer won first place in translation for both Mango Abuela y Yo and Yaqui Delgado Quiere Darte Una Paliza.  An industry veteran, Teresa has translated the likes of Where the Wild Things Are and Harold and the Purple Crayon. I had the pleasure of meeting her on the faculty of the 2014 Latino National Children’s Literature Conference at the University of Alabama. (Proof positive of the value of going to conferences…) So, when Candlewick hired her as my translator a couple of years later, I knew I was in good hands. Having the work of Latino authors available in translation matters. It’s a statement of respect for multiple literacies,…

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Burn Baby Burn voted YA book of the year by NAIBA

By Awards and news, The Writing Life

  Big news for me today: Burn Baby Burn has been chosen by the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association as their book of the year in the Young Adult category. I’m in some good company here. But the fact that this honor comes from independent bookstores is what’s cool.  These are the people who truly know and love books and authors. And they’re the people who have refused to lie down in the face of Amazon and (before that) other large chains. How are they doing? Take a look. I wish I could be in Baltimore for their conference in October to accept the award in person. But I’ll be traveling back from the Oregon School Library Association conference and won’t make it back in time. So, all I can say is thank you so much NAIBA for choosing Burn Baby Burn. Party on in my absence and please know how much I appreciate every one of you for loving books and authors as you do.  

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Are you a YA author from VA? Win $2K here!

By Awards and news, The Writing Life

Richmond Public Library has stepped forward to promote young adult books in Virginia – and I mean in a big way. Actually, in two thousand big ways. If you’re a writer for teens in the Commonwealth, you may be eligible to win the $2,000 literature prize. (WOWZA!) YAVA (Young Adult Virginia) is an annual teen book event, now in its fourth year. It features the works of Virginia authors who have had an upper middle grade or  young adult novel published that year. It’s free and open to the public for teachers, librarians, and book fans who want to meet and hear from our state’s fine stable of authors, whether new to publishing or seasoned.  The event is scheduled for October 12, 2017, 6- 8:30 PM at the Main branch of the Richmond Public Library. Here’s the Facebook page. The award is selected in a combination of public voting and judges, who pick the winner from among the finalists. Last year, Anne Holton was the honorary judge. (Yep, Tim Kaine’s spouse and our Secretary of Education.) She selected Gigi Amateau’s Come August, Come Freedom as the winner. Important rules to note: Winners are selected from the previous year’s publications. Plus the author has to have been present at the live YAVA event at the library to be eligible. PLEASE take the time to vote on the 2015 title you think is most deserving. Then, do your YA authors a favor and circulate the survey widely. (Nobody’s allowed to launch vote-for-me campaigns, though….

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Thank you, Nevada Readers!

By Awards and news, The Writing Life

I just received the fun news that Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass has won the Nevada Library Association’s Young Reader’s Choice Award. I’m so grateful to know that readers continue to connect with the story. Thank you everyone for reading and voting. Very cool! Congratulations to Bridget Heos, Carol Weston, and Jonathan Stroud on their wins, too!

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Pura Belpré!

By Awards and news, Guests, Latino Life, The Writing Life

This week marks the birthday (as far as historians can tell) of Pura Belpré, New York City’s first Latina librarian after whom the esteemed award is named. The Pura Belpré award was established in 1996 and celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. So you see, it’s time to kick off this year-long party! To honor this special day, I’ve invited guest blogger Dr. Marilisa Jimenez Garcia of Hunter College. She is a passionate advocate of Pura Belpré’s legacy and studies issues pertaining to Latino children’s lit. Here Dr. Jimenez Garcia examines the lasting impact of an author visit – and how it led to her own interest in this fascinating librarian. As a child, one of my favorite book series was Kids of the Polk Street School by Patricia Reilly Giff. I am almost certain I found the series by looking through my sister’s books. She was three years older, cooler, and always had the best books. She was beyond the little frogs and cats learning to dress themselves and brush their teeth in the books I read. Her books had full-blown characters that went to school, got into trouble, and made plans for the future—things I found much more intriguing. I know now that my love for these books was greatly due to Giff’s ability to engage me as a young reader. One day my mother found out that Giff was going to be at a local library in Long Island. My mother usually took us to local libraries to rent videos and take…

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Huge Win for Latino Authors at ALA: Mango, Abuela and Me Among medalists

By Awards and news, The Writing Life

It’s been a huge and unexpected day for me, to say the least. But it has been a HUGE day for Latino authors and illustrators all the way around.  A ceiling-shattering day.  A day that represents such an astounding shift in respect and perception that it brings tears to my eyes as I am typing this. For the first time, we have Latino winners and honor books in so many of the major awards – the Feldman, the Seilbert, the Printz, the Caldecott, the Odyssey, non fiction awards and the very highest one, the Newbery. I am so very proud of my friend, Matt de la Peña, for his gorgeous book, Last Stop on Market Street. (The full list of ALA winners is here.)  If you were watching the ALA awards this morning, you know that Mango, Abuela, and Me was given the 2016 Pura Belpré honor book award for literature, as well as receiving an honor for the illustrations. Congratulations, Angela! (Full list of Pura Belpré winners here.) This award celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.  Since its inception, the Pura Belpré award has sought to shine a light on the Latino experience in children’s literature. In so many ways, this has become my life’s work. To have this medal on my book – this year in particular – is such an affirmation. A huge congratulations to Margarita Engle and Rafael Lopez winners of the Pura Belpré medal for literature and illustration, respectively. I feel so humbled to have my work included alongside yours. Congratulations to all…

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January Bargain at E-Volt: The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind

By Awards and news, Latino Life

This month E-volt – where you can get books for $2.99 or less – is offering  The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind on sale for $1.99. You might not remember the novel – quiet as it was – but it’s the book that has made the biggest impact on me as an author. The synopsis is here, but I describe the novel as a mix of magical realism and telenovela mostly because it’s one of those sweeping stories with large casts and a few spirits. It’s about secrets, traitors, and love stricken heroes, all hopefully drawn with some depth. But at its core, The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind is actually realistic fiction, too. That’s because it’s a tale of migration and why young people take unimaginable risks to move toward better circumstances. It names that terrible brew of longing and violence the powerless often see in this life. I’ve heard said that each novel you write teaches you how to be a better writer. If that’s true, this one was a strict SOB of a teacher. I rewrote The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind more times than I care to count, trying to preserve a stylized storytelling while getting at a contemporary issue with honesty. What a struggle! I reworked the manuscript top to bottom, axing plot lines and characters. Several times I thought I would abandon the project altogether. I couldn’t find my way somehow. I couldn’t settle on what I really wanted to say about Sonia and the people in…

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Happy Holidays, Mango!

By Awards and news, picture books, The Writing Life

I was one click away from shutting down my computer for the afternoon, when I checked my email to find some good news. Mango, Abuela and Me just got voted a best book by Chicago Public Library for 2015. And only yesterday, Mango also made the Reading Rockets Holiday List for young readers. Nice to think of this book being under someone’s tree or menorah. Thank you, everyone, for reading my work and for admiring Angela’s lovely illustrations. We really appreciate these recommendations!  

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Kaywell Award and Texas Book Festival Photos

By Appearances, Awards and news

Running like a mad woman today, so I’m putting up some photos of last week’s travels. Met so many wonderful people – educators, literary philanthropists, fellow authors. This was also the first time that Ahora Si! magazine sponsored a tent at the Texas Book Festival where Latino authors and programming were available all day. Very cool! Here are just a few shots.

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What are you doing in Arkansas? Thinking about Pura Belpré, of course!

By Appearances, Awards and news, Community work, Latino Life, The Writing Life

That’s pretty much what everybody asked me this week.  Maybe it’s because it’s hard to imagine a Cuban from Queens hanging out near Oklahoma where the wind does, in fact, come sweeping down the plain. But there I was: Ft. Smith, Arkansas. Fort Smith is a quiet place with one of everything, as Ines, one of the district’s English Language Learners coordinators, told me. One Staples. One bridal shop. One mall. Church life is central to life here, which made me laugh when I toured their visitor center –  a restored brothel called Miss Laura’s Social Club. You can walk along the beautiful Arkansas river here, eat something called a Frito Chili pie, or find excellent Vietnamese food. You can experience a tornado drill on a moment’s notice or tour gallows and other bone-chilling artifacts of the “wild west.” Such a mix of unexpected things. Including people. Like a lot of small towns in the US, Fort Smith is warm and close-knit – and it now finds its demographics shifting. Schools that were once 90 percent white, now have Latino populations of over sixty percent, compounded in some cases by significant financial need. The challenge, of course, is to embrace change as normal and to pull from it the rich experiences that a truly multicultural community can provide. As I’ve had the chance to do  elsewhere, I spoke to kids about my books, culture, and where those two meet inside a writer. I had to tread lightly on Yaqui Delgado Wants to…

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Birds of a Feather…

By Appearances, Awards and news, The Writing Life, What I'm reading

I’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. It’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…

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Where books meet disaster: A brief reading list about kids and migration

By Adult books, Awards and news, Latino Life, picture book, middle grade, YA, The Writing Life, What I'm reading

I got home last week from the ALA conference, an experience that still makes me daydream, especially when I think of the energy and passion in the room at the Pura Belpré awards. You can find my speech and Yuyi Morales’s speech here, but the truth is that the text doesn’t replicate the emotion that was in the room. All of us receiving recognition were teary and humbled –and not just by the honor being extended to our books. A good part of our emotion stemmed from the unspoken presence of people who were not actually in the room with us. This summer, our news outlets have exploded with accounts of the nearly 40,000 unaccompanied childrenwho have arrived on our border to find themselves not only exhausted, afraid and alone, but also the target of explosive rage. Whatever your view on immigration policy, I hope you can agree that what we’re seeing is a human tragedy on the backs of the weakest and smallest among us. All of us writers on that stage work for young people because we respect them and treasure what should be a sacred time for all children. All of us on that stage have been touched by migration, either directly or indirectly, in our own families. All of us have been the recipients of our parents’ most ardent hopes for our futures, sometimes at the expense of their own. It is heartbreaking, then, for us to see children so completely lost and in need of help. As Javier and I traveled…

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Writing as the Biggest Gamble of All: ALA Las Vegas is Here!

By Appearances, Awards and news, The Writing Life

Kids don’t picture their librarians hanging out at a slot machine. But, I’m telling you, it could happen this week. That’s because ten thousand librarians will descend on Las Vegas for their annual meeting. I’m heading over to join the party at the Association for Library Services to Children where I’ll be among the authors receiving our medals.Yep, it’s time for the Pura Belpré ceremony among others. Truthfully, I don’t know what to expect. But in between panic and packing, I’m giving lots of thought to this year’s theme: Transforming Our Libraries, Transforming Ourselves. For the first time, my editor and marketing team at Candlewick, my agent, my husband, and the librarians who’ve championed my work will be in one place. These are the some of the people who took the gamble on me (sorry for that pun) and who have played the biggest role in my transformation. One heart isn’t big enough to hold all the gratitude I have for what these people have helped make happen in my life. One speech isn’t nearly enough to thank them  – or to thank all the bloggers, teachers, conference planners, librarians, college professors, fellow authors, family, and readers at home who have also offered me their hand and encouragement along the way. Thank you seems so meager right now. Not even mil gracias would be enough. But that’s what I’m sending to you this week. A thousand thank you’s for letting me tell stories. May our paths continue to cross in the years ahead. Meg If…

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When Old Becomes e-New: MILAGROS as e-book

By Awards and news, The Writing Life

When one of your books goes out of print, it’s a little bit like a death. I know that sounds dramatic, but that’s how it felt for me when my first middle grade novel, MILAGROS: THE GIRL FROM AWAY went out of print a couple of years ago. MILAGROS was my first book, and as any author will tell you, a first book has a special place in  your heart. It is your dream come true in so many ways. It represents every hope and every ounce of courage you ever had as a writer. To see it end, is a sad, sad thing. MILAGROS came out to strong reviews in 2008, but thanks in part to my total lack of chops in promotion back then (“Facebook? What’s that? A Blog? You’re kidding!”), it faded quietly into the background.   But today, thanks to my agent, Jen Rofé, at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, MILAGROS: THE GIRL FROM AWAY gets a second chance in the Kindle edition. The jury is still out, of course, on whether middle grade readers will flock to e-books. And I am well aware of the teeth gnashing we do about Amazon. Still, I feel at peace that there is a version available of all of my work. Best of all, though, I want to let you know that the beautiful new cover was designed by my friend and colleague Joe Cepeda. You know Joe’s work, such as Nappy Hair, Esperanza Rising and many other iconic books. …

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You Want More Diverse Lit: Step 2

By Appearances, Awards and news, Latino Life, The Writing Life

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. 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. I’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,…

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Yaqui, Pura Belpré and Me

By Awards and news

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

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ALA Midwinter in Philly

By Appearances, Awards and news

Just a quick hello from ALA Midwinter in Philly, where I have re-learned how to walk for miles in six-degree weather. Ice, slush, cold toes, runny nose…I’d almost forgotten what it feels like to live in a place that keeps moving regardless of the weather. As I ride home on the Amtrak, I’m feeling so grateful for some of these favorite moments: Setting out on the train with two of my dearest writing friends, A.B. Westrick and Gigi Amateau. The whole train was filled with librarians. (I’m looking at you Lucinda Whitehurst, among others!) It had a Hogwarts sort of feel to it. We decided to stay in a Bed and Breakfast instead of a standard hotel. Cheaper and cooler, in my book. We were at Casa Buono in the Italian section of Philly.  The view from my window. Kat, Dana, and Laura- the goddesses of The Virginia Shop hauled all their quirky literary wares to the Convention Center, fought for parking spots, and kept us all laughing. Here they are during our wonderful Asian dinner at Sampan on S. 13th Street. I also enjoyed a great meal at the Candlewick Press Family Ho-down at Supper (South Street) on Friday night. (Thanks again, Andie!) No kidding: I met Jen Delgado from Delaware. (No relation, THANK GOD to Yaqui!) Always cool to see books by friends. Here are the galleys for Sandra and Rich Wallace’s new novel, BABE CONQUERS THE WORLD (Cawkins Creek/Highlights). Fans of strong girls and sports should look for it in March 2014. Had a…

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See you at the Nat’l Book Festival!

By Appearances, Awards and news, The Writing Life

A quick post to say muchisimas gracias to the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, which will be part of the 2013 National Book Festival September 21 – 22. This year, the Foundation has selected Tía Isa Wants a Car to represent Virginia at the Pavilion of the States.  How’s THAT for a surprise? Here’s the press release. [VFH Invited to National Book Festival.] The National Book Festival will be held on the mall in Washington DC.  Free and open to the public…just a gigantic gathering of book lovers. I’ll be at the tent for a little while on Saturday enjoying the joyous mayhem. Otherwise, you’ll find me strolling around and catching some of my favorite authors. (That, and buying too many books, as usual!)  Amazing lineup, to be sure. See you there!

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¡Verano! (Summer – the best time for book lovers)

By Appearances, Awards and news, Latino Life, The Writing Life

A quick post today as I settle back from my amazing day celebrating multicultural lit at the LUCY conference at Old Dominion University. Looking forward to a busy first week of summer talking books, culture, and connection. 1.  Gigi Amateau and I continue to celebrate our Girls of Summer list. Our launch last week was a huge success with about 180 mothers, daughters, librarians, teachers, and all-around book lovers enjoying free ice cream, book talk, and a celebration of strong girls. Hope you are enjoying Tanita Davis’s Q & A this week. Looking ahead to Friday, 6/28 you’ll meet the fabulous Latina author Guadalupe Garcia McCall on our site. She’ll talk about winning the Pura Belpré prize for Under the Mesquite,  and how she found a way to tell a story based on one of her most painful challenges. 2.  For my Latino friends with kids, please check this out! A summer reading list for Latino readers from the blogging community. Latinas for Latino Literature provide book lists by age group, activities, and ideas for encouraging reading. Please follow them on Facebook, too, where you’ll see the growing community around Latinos, youth, and empowerment through reading. 3. I’ll be at the Shenandoah Children’s Literature Conference this Tuesday and Wednesday as part of “Heavy Medal,” celebrating children’s book authors who have won medals and prizes for their work. (Thank you Ezra Jack Keats committee! Your gift keeps on giving and opening doors.) So excited to travel to this beautiful part of the…

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Angela Dominguez: A sneak peek at a new partnership

By Awards and news, The Writing Life

Know what this is? “Easter in San Francisco” by children’s book author and illustrator Angela Dominguez. This one is “Death of a Pet.” Why am I dancing in my living room about this? I got word that she has signed on to be the illustrator for my next picture book project with Candlewick Press. SUNSET COLORÁ is due out in 2015. Can’t wait to see the book that emerges!  Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy Angela’s new picture book Let’s Go Hugo. To learn more about Angela click here. Follow her on twitter @andominguez So excited!

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GoodReads Giveaway and Virtual Tour

By Appearances, Awards and news, The Writing Life

A quick post for Young Adult lit fans or authors: Check out YA Reads for Teachers (And Any Other Adults) on GoodReads. It’s an online community of over 1,300 adult readers who want to read and discuss young adult novels for their classrooms and libraries. If you hurry, you can join the group and enter their book giveaway for Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass this month. (You have to sign up before March 13, midnight).  In April, I’ll be the featured author, which means I’ll check in daily to answer questions about my book, ass kickings and other joys of growing up. Should be fun.  YA Reads for Teachers (And Any Other Adults) on Facebook, too.

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Books, Bullying, and Building Compassion: A Book Event in RVA

By Appearances, Awards and news, Community work, The Writing Life

Mark your calendars: Saturday, March 16, 2013, 2 PM – 4:30 pm. Book launch party for Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, ART 180, 114 West Marshall Street, Richmond, VA 23220 One day back in middle school, a girl I didn’t know came up to me and said, “Jackie Delgado is going to kick your ass.” If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s more or less the title of my new YA novel. I didn’t know it then, but that moment was an awful turning point for me. If you’ve ever been targeted, you know that a low grade dread sets in and crowds out everything else, like your grades, your family, your self esteem. What followed for me were two long years of dodging a school bully and her obnoxious friends who would push me and threaten me, scream out my name and cackle in the halls. I suddenly felt scared to exist at my school, and no adult seemed capable of helping. I learned to avoid classes, to lie to my mother, to hang out with downright dangerous people so that I might become so tough that no one could ever hurt me. I wasn’t alone, of course, but you couldn’t have told me that. The good news is that, like most of us, I survived. The bad news is that girls like Jackie still exist today, and they’re made all the fiercer with their cameras and YouTube sites and Facebook pages. I saw it as a teacher….

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An early present in the mail!

By Awards and news

I love the mail this time of year — and it’s not just the holiday packages and cards. The spring/summer Candlewick catalog arrived in cheery red yesterday, and it brightened my whole day.  My next YA novel is in there (Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, page 48), but also so many new works by familiar names and newcomers. Browse and you’ll see what I mean.  Here’s the pdf. So now I turn to an oversized cup of coffee, a comfy reading chair, and a notebook to add to my list of tales I want to read. (Did I mention I may need bookcases for Christmas?)

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Red Clover Award!

By Awards and news, The Writing Life

Exciting news came across my twitter feed last night. It seems that Tía Isa Wants a Car has taken a little road trip up I-95 – and ended up in Vermont! It’s been named a Red Clover title for 2012-2013. The Red Clover Program “promotes the reading and discussion of the best of contemporary picture books in nearly all of Vermont’s elementary schools. Each year over 20,000 K-4 students read, or have read to them, the ten nominated books. The Award is co-sponsored by the Vermont Center for the Book / Mother Goose Programs and the Vermont Departments of Education and Libraries.” I’ll be saying hello to the librarians via twitter on Wednesday (#vsla) beginning at about 10:15 am EST. I am so excited and honored to be included on this list. ¡Gracias bibliotecárias!

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Good news from the UK!

By Awards and news, The Writing Life

The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind pubbed in the UK as paperback last month. Just got happy word that it’s  included in CBI’s Recommended Reads (formerly known as Bookfest Guide).  The guide features reviews of the best titles for 2012 – from January to December across Ireland and the UK (where there is a long tradition of magical realism!) Nice print run to go along. I am really honored. Thanks to everyone at Walker Books for your hard work at getting the novel in the right hands.

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When Characters Muscle In

By Awards and news

The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind releases through Walker Books in the UK as a gorgeous paperback next month — and review copies are going out with their own milagro. Nice!  Here’s a post I did for Under Cover Books about the unexpected pleasures of surrendering to your characters. In life and in fiction, I’ve found that it’s always the quiet ones that surprise you. At least, that’s how it happened in this book. P.S. Love the cover? Me gusta tambien. Check out Olaf Hajek’s other beautiful work.  Here’s a teaser.

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The Hope Tree Exhibit Opens

By Awards and news, Community work

Last night was a nearly perfect launch for the Hope Tree Project at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.  I say nearly because the school bus carrying 27 artists from Meadowbrook High School got a flat tire on I-95. They missed the opening, but not to worry. The folks at the garden are going to send them free passes so the students can come see their creations. I do wish they could have seen the outpouring of support from the community, though, especially the Latin Ballet dancing in their honor. Here are some shots of the private unveiling. I’m including the program and the text of my comments, in case you love long-winded speeches. Here’s a link, too, to Latin Ballet of Virginia and to Kevin’s contagious music with Ban Caribe. Some photos of the milagros appear page 2 of today’s Richmond Times Dispatch (metro sec.), and there will be an article in StyleWeekly tomorrow. The exhibit runs through July 4. I hope you’ll take the time to visit the Garden soon. It really is a stunning place where you can gather your thoughts and refuel, whatever age or interest.  Be sure to stop by the exhibit. It’s an amazing thing to be surrounded by aspirations. Many, many thanks again to L.C. Bird, Meadowbrook High School, Huguenot High School, The Steward School, J.R. Tucker High School, Lee Davis High School, Hermitage High School, and Henrico High School. And a huge shout out to my publisher, Candlewick Press for the facebook ads and…

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Tía Isa Wants a Car wins the Ezra Jack Keats New Writers Award

By Awards and news, The Writing Life

I just saw the official press release announcing that I’ve won the Ezra Jack Keats New Writers Award for 2012 for my picture book. I’m still a little stunned, but very happy. This is an enormous honor, and I am so especially proud that it comes for a story that pays tribute to the valiant women in my family. Thank you to everyone who was involved in finding and sharing this story, those I know, like Gigi Amateau, Kate Fletcher, Jen Rofé, and Laura Rivas, and those who have been secret cheerleaders in far flung places. I’m sending you all muchos abrazos fuertes! Here is a little snippet from the release to tell you about the award: “Fifty years ago, Ezra’s book The Snowy Day, which featured an African American child, broke the color barrier in mainstream children’s book publishing when it was embraced by families across racial, economic and ethnic lines,” said Deborah Pope, Executive Director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. “Like Ezra, this year’s Book Award winners have, in their own way, celebrated the similarities—and differences—of people whose life experiences are dramatically varied.” Since 1985, the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award has been awarded annually to an outstanding new writer and new illustrator of picture books for children (age 9 and under) by the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by the late Keats and dedicated to enhancing the love of reading and learning in all children. The Book Awards come to the de Grummond for the first time this year from…

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The Hope Tree Project

By Appearances, Awards and news, Latino Life, The Writing Life

There are all sorts of ways of launching a new book into the world. This time around I’ve decided to go big. I’ll have my regular launch at the ever-fabulous bbgb tales for kids on March 17. But when The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind pubs next month, I’ll have about 500 high school students to help me celebrate, too. That’s because they’re part of a project I’m working on in partnership with The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and eight area high schools here in Richmond. The Hope Tree Project is a connection of art, reading, and community building for young people – a good addition to the Virginia Commission of the Art’s Minds Wide Open 2012 celebration of children and the arts. The students and their art or ESOL teachers have agreed to create Latin American ex votives — or milagros — that symbolize a hope or dream that they have for themselves or for the community. When they’re done, we’ll decorate five crape myrtle trees in the beautiful children’s garden with their collective wishes. Milagros are part folk art and part religious votives in Latin America. The tiny charms are attached to statues of saints, to the walls of churches, or even to women’s jewelry. Why? To ask for a favor or to thank a saint for help, of course. It’s a connection of the sacred or mystical to every day needs. Not that this is new, of course. The ancient Romans made them, too, as did many…

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A Spot on the Amelia Bloomer Prize List

By Awards and news, The Writing Life

Today my whole day was brightened by finding out that Tía Isa Wants a Car won a spot on the 2012 Amelia Bloomer Prize list.  This is a list of best feminist books — which I am so thrilled to say includes picture books for our youngest readers. Thank you to the committee for such an honor. Of all the happy things that have come my way as a result of this book, this is one that I am so proud of. Mil gracias, chicas…

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Charlotte Zolotow Award

By Awards and news, picture book, middle grade, YA, The Writing Life

A big thank you to the Charlotte Zolotow Prize committee for selecting Tía Isa Wants a Car as a highly commended book for 2011. I’m also happy to join in a standing ovation for this year’s big winner, Patrick McDonnell, whose nifty picture book, Me … Jane is the 15th annual winner of the prize. The Charlotte Zolotow Award recognizes outstanding writing in a picture book. Thanks to Patrick’s book, kids from birth to age seven can learn about the incredible life of Jane Goodall.

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