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Sonia Sotomayor

Hot Fun in the Summertime

By Appearances, The Writing Life
Hot fun in the summertime* means I will dig into manuscript edits for the third, and final, book in the Merci Suárez series this week. I can’t even believe I am typing that sentence. What an incredible journey. Wish me luck – and please, if you haven’t done so, please leave a review of Merci Suárez Can’t Dance on Amazon, Goodreads, or any other places you review books. I also have two exciting events this Thursday, June 17, both public, that will honor amazing women. First, at 2 p.m. EST, I will record a conversation about the Pura Belpré award as part of the lead-up to the American Library Association’s 2021 virtual conference, where this year's closing speaker is former President Barack Obama. I'll let you know when it goes live. The Pura Belpré award is 25 years old this year, and celebrations of both the librarian and the award abound. You can check out a fantastic collection of essays written by current and former medal and honor winners in the May issue of The Horn Book Magazine. My own essay, "What the Pura Belpré Award Means to Me" is a call to arms about what I'd like to see come next for this award, and for Latinx children’s and YA lit, in general. The fun keeps going at 6 p.m. EST on June 17 as the She Persisted series continues its tour. Through the virtual magic of Loyalty Bookstores in DC, I will join Chelsea Clinton and the ever-fabulous Rita...
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Join Chelsea Clinton and the Persisters at the Loft’s WordPlay

By Appearances, Chapter Books
I’ve always wanted to visit the Loft’s Wordplay Festival in Minnesota, and this year my dream comes true, albeit virtually. This Thursday, May 6, I will join Chelsea Clinton, Michelle Knudson and Sayantani DasGupta to talk about the biographies we wrote as part of the She Persisted chapter book series (Philomel, 2021), based on Chelsea’s bestselling picture book, She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World. The entire experience of joining the project was new to me, and I’m so glad I got the chance. I’d never written non-fiction or a chapter book, meaning a shorter work for kids ages 6 – 10. But when I was told I’d have the chance to write about Justice Sonia Sotomayor – and that I’d be joining an auspicious list of female authors known sweetly as the “persisters,” I couldn’t resist. (You can see the full list of biographies and authors for yourself by following the series link below.) It was an absolute honor to bring the story of Justice Sotomayor - the first Hispanic and third woman on the Supreme Court – to young readers. She is, of course, a titan in Latino history. But as I researched, I found a once-upon-a-time kid who was relatable at every step of her growing up. As a Queens girl myself, I loved our shared New York roots. But I loved the unexpected events of her life even more. She was a handful in the eyes of adults. She didn’t love her early elementary school years...
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Sleepy summer?

By Appearances, The Writing Life
Hi all.  August. This should be a slow and sleepy time in publishing, right?  But no. An awful lot is happening during what should be my sleepy summer. Maybe that's a good thing, though. It will keep me from missing pool days or fun beach trips.  OK, the huge NEWSFLASH:  the SCBWI Summer Spectacular is living up to its name. Full disclosure, I sit on the board of advisors for SCBWI, but that doesn’t influence the fact that I think the digital conference has offered us an incredible silver lining of access. A lot of folks who can’t plunk down the big bucks for airfare and hotel of a live conference, can pay $100 and click a zoom link to learn from people like the legendary Phillip Pullman. That’s a huge bonus for people early in their careers when the cash flow from writing is a trickle. Check out the lineup yourself. And please, if you are registered or plan to register, join my conversation with the fabulous Laurie Halse Anderson on Tuesday morning. We’ve decided to ask each other all the stuff nobody else does. We’ll talk a little bit of craft, but also what career blips we’ve had, what we wish we could do over, things that scare us now, and new voices we’re excited about.  There’s a lot of bookstore and educator love happening in my world this month, too. I’ll be at Belmont Books, virtually of course, in support of a program called Read it Forward,...
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En Español Por Favor: My Day at Partners in Print

By Appearances, Community work, Latino Life

I spent Saturday at the University Maryland (College Park) with Partners in Print (PNP), an organization under the umbrella of America Reads. PNP supports literacy  at 18 schools, mostly in Prince George County, Maryland, by helping parents – many of whom don’t speak English as their first language – learn how to support their children’s emerging reading skills.  Saturday was the culminating event for the mentors and their students. More than 140 students and 100 parents came for the day-long gathering. My role for the day was to read Tia Isa Quiere Un Carro and to speak to volunteers and family attendees in a bilingual presentation. Confession. It’s always a little strange for me to work bilingually because my English is simply better. I was born here. I studied here. Although we speak Spanish as home, I live about 75 percent of my life in English. That means that sometimes I’m stuck pecking for words or phrases in Spanish, frustrated between what I’m thinking and what I can say. Turns out this gives me the same problem as Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who was recently interviewed by Jorge Ramos of Univision. He noticed her occasional lapses into English, and it was the subject of a lot of Twitter chat. Like the justice, I grew up speaking Spanish at home, and I have no accent when I speak it. Yes, I can read a newspaper and magazine no problem.  I understand everything on Spanish language TV. I consider myself fully bicultural….

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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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