Newbery award winner and New York Times bestselling author

Posts tagged ‘The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind’

Hope Sprouts in Arlington


“Milagros” are offered at shrines and altars all over Latin America as requests for help or as expressions of gratitude.

I drove up to Arlington last week for a terrific ceremony for the graduating fifth graders at Claremont Elementary. Last fall, teacher Sherry Lord and art teacher Vicki Walchak decided to make a school hope tree with their students in honor of moving on to middle school. You might remember that the Hope Tree project began here in Richmond, VA when my YA novel The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind was published.  At the heart of that novel – and at the heart of the Hope Tree Project — is the question: What is a hope or dream that you have for yourself? Students create metal “milagros” to represent that hope and offer them to the world. IMG_0977

Here’s a poem that the students created together and read as part of the installation ceremony. I am so honored that they took on this project, and I wish all the graduates the best in middle school!


The trees are beautiful!

Hope Poem

If hope is the thing with feathers

that perches in the soul,

then these are the things that keep it

feeling safe and feeling whole.

We hope that we’ll stay friends

after shutting school’s door,

we hope for family’s health

and being sick no more.

We hope for a healthy sibling

to be born this coming summer.

We hope for safe travels

to this country from another.

We hope Raul comes back,

we hope our friend won’t go away,

we hope when we grow up

we’re as wonderful as we are today.

We hope to be a singer,

a soccer player, an ice skater,

we hope to be a policeman,

a fashion designer, a writer.

We hope to be an architect,

we hope to be the best.

No matter what we hope for,

we all hope for success.

We hope to enter Minecraft

and woolly mammoths come back to life.

We hope for no more war

and for peace in the midst of strife.

We hope to win the lottery

and happiness won’t end.

We hope Cristiano Ronaldo

and Iker Casillas will be our friends.

We hope that we can live

near a lake with lots of fishes.

We hope that we can eat

a donut most delicious.

We hope the Orioles in the World Series will win.

We hope to not be treated

like an outsider, but in.

We hope to travel, to make Eagle Scouts

to have the best summer we can.

We hope to move to Barcelona

to live the dreams we plan.

We hope to have cool neighbors,

to have friends that aren’t mean.

We know the closest thing to

godliness is to stay clean.

We hope for enough food

for all the world’s peace.

We hope endangered animals and oil spills decrease.

We hope no matter what our differences may be

that we’ll respect each other

and just treat us all fairly.

We hope our hopes stay secret

and our dreams will all come true.

We hope that everybody

loves their life and what they do.

A True Bienvenidos

A warm welcome!

A warm welcome!

I spent a wonderful morning at Good Shepherd Episcopal School visiting with students from Pre-K through the eighth grade. It is so exciting to find schools like this where  the students are so obviously honored and loved.

Favorite comment:

On hearing that my tía Isa was actually a terrible driver:  “Your next book should be Tía Isa Goes to the Emergency Room.

Three best questions:

My fellow dinersDo you ever find that you accidentally put pieces of one story in another story?

How do you know if your idea should be a book?

(With a worried look.) Is your tía Isa still driving on the streets?

Most touching event:

Chef Sue (who cooks homemade from organic produce every day for these sweet kids) made me “lechon” (pulled Cuban pork), white rice and black beans, so that I could enjoy un buen almuerzo. We even had merengues for dessert.  (A big hit. “Yum! You got this cookie right,” said one of the third graders.)

A Cuban feast for school lunch!

A Cuban feast for school lunch!

Chef Sue!

Chef Sue!

Best slang I taught them:

¡Pin Pan Pun! (rollaway bed)

Happiest coincidence:

Señora Cardounel, the  Spanish teacher, is from Cuba, too. We chatted in Spanish and swapped lots of stories. I hope she’ll visit me soon.

The fabulous Mrs. Dysart

The fabulous Mrs. Dysart

Thank you, Ms. Dysart and all the lovely faculty and students at Good Shepherd! If I had to go to school again, I would want to go to a place just like Good Shepherd.

School visits: An Open Book Literacy Foundation

Back to DC, one of my favorite cities, this time thanks to An Open Book Children’s Literacy Foundation which gives Title 1 schools in the District access to books and authors. (Feeling charitable this season?  They make an excellent choice for your philanthropy.) So, it’s second graders and eighth graders for me today. I think we’ll make our own “Tía Isa” cars out of foam with the younger ones, since this gives me a chance to channel my inner craft geek. (I can’t help it. I love office supplies and the smell of Elmers Glue). Thrilled also to start a new Hope Tree in the DC area with the older guys.

Raymond Education Center, here I come!

What color would your car be? Where would you want your car to take you?

What color would your car be? Where would you want your car to take you?

Claremont Elementary Spanish Immersion School: The Hope Tree Grows

Part of Claremont’s display for El Dia De Los Muertos

What a week! A nail-biter election that took me late into the night, and then up at 5 am (when it was still tan oscuro!) to get to Claremont Elementary School in Arlington, VA. (Thank you to Sherry Lord for inviting me!) Claremont is a funky Spanish Immersion school that’s going to do a version of the Hope Tree project as their fifth graders move on to middle school. Again, we’re asking, What is a hope you have for yourself?

Coolest trio ever

Such a pretty school, and the art is everywhere you look. I love these giant looming heads over the stage (inside one of those strange rooms called a cafetorium). They are César Chávez, Pocahontas, and Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr.

Oh! And look at these urns in their lovely garden. I spotted them when I arrived. Hmmm…they are sitting near benches and empty trees. You thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’?

These two want some milagros hanging in the trees nearby…

Dame Tu Voz: An Arts Celebration with Duende in RVA

What happens when you have a dream that you’re watching a Henley Street Theatre play and all the actors are speaking in Spanish?

If you’re Rafael Seligmann, Board Chair of the Henley Street Theatre, you wake up, call Ana Ines King of The Latin Ballet of Virginia and plan a day-long celebration of Latin American music, theatre, literature and dance.

On November 3, I’ll be part of Dame Tu Voz(Give Me Your Voice), a free, one-day festival to be held at Centenary United Methodist Church (411 E Grace St.) from 1 – 9 pm. Here’s why you should go.

First, it’s a bargain if you’ve got kids. Free family-friendly things happen all afternoon: food, music, art, flamenco demonstrations, puppet making and salsa lessons, to name just a few highlights.

Who wouldn’t want to see flamenco dancer Antonio Hidalgo?

But don’t worry; nobody is left out of the fun. At 4 pm the event starts to take a more adult tone. It begins with readings of favorite Spanish-language poetry.(Want to share one? Call (804) 307-5343 to sign up.)

My performance is at 5 pm. I’ll be reading a short selection from my YA novel, The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind) and talking about magical realism and transformation.

Afterward, we can enjoy some food and downtime together before the evening offers up truly refreshing fare for theatre fans. (This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Henley Street is already known for its free and innovative Bootleg Shakespeare series.)

For  $10, you get to see two fantastic one-act plays. The Marvelous Pageant  is a comedy by Miguel de Cervantes (yep, as in the Don Quixote author). It’s a slapstick comedy written in 1605 — a spin on the Emperor’s New Clothes for adults. It will be performed two ways: as a short staged reading en español and later,  in English. (It’s a 15-minute performance, so don’t worry about feeling lost in one language or the other.)

The main piece, however, is Rappaccini’s Daughter, the only play written by Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz, which was based on  a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It’s a mad scientist story of sorts. A botanist raises his daughter in their garden, feeding her only poisonous plants until she becomes a beautiful woman who brings death to anyone who touches her. Enter a young lover. (Uh-oh.)Hawthorne killed off the young man in his original, but Octavio Paz had magical realism in his pocket, and we get another ending entirely.  The play will be performed (in English) inside the beautiful church sanctuary. It features an extended dance sequence  duet by Ana King and flamenco virtuoso António Hidalgo.

Ana Ines King of Latin Ballet of VA

Por favor…spread the word and join me on Nov. 3.

Download your flyer.

Purchase your tickets here.

See you then, muchachos!

Cariños de,


A Little Bit of Fiesta at City Hall

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month! This is a month for everybody to channel their inner Latino, but don’t worry if you don’t know an empanada from a salsa. I can help you, especially if you’re in the downtown Richmond, Virginia area next week. That’s because on Monday, September 17, 2012 The Hope Tree Project comes to the lobby of City Hall at Broad Street and 9th Street! (Map here.) We’re having a little lunchtime party as the kickoff, and I hope you’ll come.

You’ll remember that this exhibit of the hopes and dreams of Richmond’s young people started out as a collaboration between me, eight area high schools, and the folks at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden last spring, when The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind first pubbed. Well, we’ve moved the exhibit to its final phase —  the concrete jungle — where the public can see what our kids are thinking about themselves and our community. The exhibit is, of course, free and open to the public.

The lobby doesn’t have trees (bummer) but I have a plan. Or I should say… my friends at Pine Camp Art Center (Shaun Casselle) and the Office of Multicultural Affairs (Tanya Gonzalez) have a plan. All those twigs that fell out of trees during last month’s gusty days?  Yep, they’re being recycled into the show. (How’s that for clever use of resources?) We’ll be spending our Saturday putting them in place.

If you work downtown, please come down and join us for the  reception on Monday, September 17, noon. I’ll have some nice treats from Spanish Soul, a new Puerto Rican restaurant near my home. The exhibit will run through October 12.

Cariños de,


Where to buy Meg’s books and audiobooks.

Good news from the UK!

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.

The Hope Tree spreads a seedling to downtown Richmond

I’ll be heading to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden this week to take down the Hope Tree exhibit. (Tomorrow, when it’s not 100 degrees in Richmond, VA.)

The happy news? Pieces of the exhibit will be traveling to City Hall for Hispanic Heritage month this September/October. Details to follow. Meantime, if you have any ideas on how to create a sturdy fake tree in a lobby, send them my way. Pronto.

Loving Walker Books: It’s the little things

It’s no secret that I love my publisher Candlewick Press and its parent company, Walker Books in the UK.  I thought I’d show you just one example of why.

This was in the mail from Walker. It’s publication day for The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind in the UK (and my birthday, as it happens). This little card made my day even better. What a lovely thing to do for a writer. Thanks for your thoughtfulness, Walker!

When Characters Muscle In

Thank you, Hannah Love, for this photo

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.

I vote for more illustration in YA book jackets.