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Celia Cruz

A Playlist for Merci Suárez Can’t Dance

By Discussion materials, middle grade
A present for you! Here's a bilingual playlist I pulled together in honor of Merci Suárez Can't Dance, which will be in bookstores on April 6. If you attended the recent Candlewick Press 2021 preview event at ALA in January, you already received this in your virtual goodie bag. But for those of you who weren't at ALA this winter, here's a way to get in the mood for the book's release. All pre-orders at the site of your choice are appreciated, of course. I'll have finals details for you soon about the virtual indie store book tour coming in April, where I'll be talking all things Merci with some of my most admired friends in publishing. If you want a sneak peek at the dates and special guests we know so far, come over to the Events page. Remember, though, more are coming. So on to the music. You might not find all of these songs kid-friendly for students in elementary school, so listen first and pick your favorites. Why did each song make the list? Read on. Maybe readers will make their own list? I'd love to know what they'd put on their own playlist. Enjoy! Songlist X/ Artist:  Jonas Brothers, featuring Karol G I’m sure this was on the DJ’s playlist at the Heart Ball. You can find a performance of this on You Tube that features some great dance moves that Merci would struggle with, for sure! Con Calma/ Artist:  Daddy Yankee The twins and Lolo love to...
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Some music for Yaqui Delgado

By Appearances, The Writing Life

So I’m putting the finishing touches on the launch events for Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass which comes out next month. And because it takes hours to work out all the details, I’m listening to music that puts me in the mood. Yaqui Delgado takes a shard of truth from my personal life. I wrote this novel white-knuckled some days, thinking back to when I was an early teen facing down a schoolyard bully. I was learning everything about everything back then: learning about lousy adults, learning what it meant to be a Latina, learning how to really take care of myself when others couldn’t. It was a scary time, but all these years later, I find myself thinking a lot about all I took away from that experience. It was a Puerto Rican girl, Aida, I remember most. She lived upstairs, cut school, and had bad acne but a hot boyfriend nonetheless. More importantly, she taught me to salsa. Sometimes she gave parties in her hot apartment with Celia Cruz and the Fania All Stars (Johnny Pacheco, Hector LaVoe, etc) blasting out of her mother’s stereo until the walls shook. When I think back to that time in my life, the soundtrack belongs to those old masters. So, here’s a little YouTube gem of the late Celia Cruz fronting the band in Africa. And then, a more recent piece by Celia – Sin Clave– to get you in the spirit via Cuban music that (like a tough…

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A Day at Marie Reed Elementary School

By The Writing Life

Last Thursday, I trekked up to DC to spend a day at Marie Reed Elementary School in Adams Morgan. Four years into my life as a published author and I’ve realized that I’d rather do a thousand school visits than a book signing, which for me are often skimpy on attendance. There’s something about being around little people with no teeth that is much more satisfying. Marie Reed is a lovely school, if a little oddly appointed. (Partitions offer a reminder of the open education experiment of the 1960s.) Truly, if Christine Reuss, my host, hadn’t been with me, I would never have found my way around. There’s a surprise around every corner. They have a garden that Michelle Obama planted to help them attract butterflies, and they have murals of the late salsa goddess Celia Cruz (¡azucar!) and Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor. The auditorium is an amphitheater. What I loved most about this little gem of a school, though, is that it offers both an English only and a dual language curriculum. This seems so much more sensible to me than trying to teach a language in middle school, when we all know that their tongues go thick and their courage, thin. To see an Asian kindergarten student rattling off “Asi Baila Juanito” like a native is about the loveliest thing I can imagine. I read to the students, told them about how I wrote Tia Isa Wants a Car and Milagros.Then I listened to their songs and dances,…

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