Newbery award winner and New York Times bestselling author

Posts tagged ‘Tia Isa Wants a Car’

Party Hats, Everyone!

There’s a celebration everywhere you look this coming week!

Monday is World Book Night, that biblio-glorious event started in the UK to spread the love of reading. Right now, the event is targeted to adults and doesn’t include  children’s books. (I know. Sad.) I’ll be celebrating anyway by signing copies of my YA novel, The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind at Barnes & Noble (Chesterfield Towne Center Mall) from 5 – 7 pm. Giveaways will include signed copies of my books for your favorite school library and a free school visit to one lucky raffle winner.

But that’s not the only celebration on the horizon. It’s also El Dia de los Niños on Saturday, April 28– a national celebration of reading and children across many cultures.

In honor of the fun, I’ll be at the Chesterfield County Public Library (Meadowdale Branch) for the morning, where I’ll read Tia Isa Wants a Car and do a craft with the little ones at 10:30. (Who doesn’t love a glue stick?) At 11:30, my favorite thing: a free writing workshop for teen writers. Here’s the address: 4301 Meadowdale Blvd., Richmond, VA 23234. Branch phone number is 804-318-8778. ¡Vengan, por favor!

And of course, you know the Hope Tree Project is just around the corner at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Tune into  Radio Poder, 1380 AM, on Monday, April 23 at 11 am and I’ll tell you all about it. I’ll be talking with my favorite Richmond Latina, Tanya Gonzalez. The milagros are absolutely beautiful. Wait til you see…

More soon!

Cariños de,

Meg

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

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 the New York Public Library.

Looking forward to the ceremony on April 12…

¡Tía Isa En Español!

Look what’s out today! Or should I say – ¡Mira que se publicó hoy!

A Spot on the Amelia Bloomer Prize List

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…

Charlotte Zolotow Award

awarded by the Cooperative Children's Book Center at the School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison

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.

A Day at Marie Reed Elementary School

Last Thursday, I trekked up to DC to spend a day at Marie Reed Elementary School in Adams Morgan.

View from my seat on Amtrak

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, and got treated to a writing project where students wrote – in Spanish or English – something they wanted to work hard to achieve – just the way Tia Isa had worked hard to get her car. Counting to big numbers. Reading for a long time. The list was impressive.

But maybe what I will remember most is the part of our day when I asked the kindergarten and first graders where they would go if they could have a car. Chuckie Cheese was a popular choice. Also, the beach. But one little girl came down the steps to where I was standing with my microphone.

“¿Donde quizieras ir en tu carro? Where would you want to go in your car?

“I would go to El Salvador to see my family,” she said. “I miss them.”

I thought of her the whole train ride home.

Meg’s next appearances:  SCBWI Midatlantic Conference, Arlington, VA, Oct.22 

Holladay Elementary School, Henrico, VA, Monday, Oct. 24

Indi Love


The Southern Independent Booksellers Association conference was this weekend in Charleston, SC — four days of food, free books, and figuring out how on to help independent bookstores duel with Amazon, electronic books, and big box sellers. Un-Chain America is the basic battle cry — and they mean it.

Some highlights from #SIBA11:

Western Writers

~First 180 Days Celebration, a sort of meet-and-greet for the booksellers and authors whose books came out in the first half of 2011. As someone who has had her share of quiet book signings, it was nice to have a line of rabid book lovers waiting for a copy of my book.

~The Exhibition Hall: Booksellers who dress in costume! Charms from The Hunger Games. And my favorite find: “A Little Can of Whoop Ass,” which I plan to purchase and put into use right away. (You have been warned.)

~I met fellow Candlewick author Allan Wolf, whose book The Watch That Ends the Night, follows the story (in verse) of an undertaker who came to attend to the dead on the Titanic. Look for it next month.

Allan Wolf and me, both travel weary

~I got a present: my very own necklace made from the cover image of Tía Isa Wants a Car. It’s made by All Things Small Pendants, and I plan to wear it proudly. ¡Muchisimas gracias!

~I slipped into the panel discussion called Not Your Mama’s Teen Reads, a fantastic YA panel of Simon & Schuster authors, moderated by Richmond’s own Kelly Justice, owner of Fountain Bookstore. The panelists included Ellen Hopkins, who writes two novels a year. (AHH!) She was joined by Brandon Mull (Beyonders: Seeds of Rebellion), Michelle Hodkin (The Unbecoming of Mara), and Margaret Peterson Haddix (Always War). Each and every one was funny, insightful, and charming.

~You know, I love to eat, so the children’s book luncheon was double whammy of joy. The Quote To Keep came from author Avi (new book, City of Orphans, Atheneum), on the difference between how children read and how adults read. “A child reads a book and says, ‘How did that writers know so much about me?’ The adult reads a book and says, ‘There are other people out there like me.’”

~I also did an interview for heardtv.com with Robin Reshard. It airs in Octoboer, so I’ll share the link then.

~And last, but not least, I got to eavesdrop on this quirky, driven, book-lovin’ group of businesspeople who help make your city and mine a more interesting place to live. They love books, adore authors, and are fighting for their lives.

So, in the spirit of loving Indies, I’m inviting you to support one this weekend. Please join me at Fountain bookstore this Saturday, 2 pm for a celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. You don’t have to be Latino…just Latino-curious. We’ll have some snacks, share some book picks featuring Latino main characters (picture books to adult). We’ll even have ticket giveaways to Latin Ballet of Virginia and Havana Restaurant and Lounge. See you then!

It’s Hispanic Heritage Month. Let’s eat!

September ushers in the strangely straddled Hispanic Heritage month (Sept 15 – Oct. 15). I’ll be doing lots of appearances around town to celebrate, but this month I thought I’d share some Latin magic through my kitchen.

Here’s Arroz con Pollo – chicken and yellow rice. It’s one of those dishes that every Latin cook aspires to make well, the kind women fight about and secretly criticize behind each other’s backs. There are a million recipes, but here’s mine.

Ingredientes

Olive oil (about 5 T)

1 whole chicken cut up or (better) a collection of thighs and legs

2 T red wine vinegar

1 T dried oregano

½ pound medium grain white rice

1 small red pepper, finely chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic mashed

1 small tomato, seeded and chopped

¼ cup pimento-stuffed olives (I cut these in half)

1 T tomato paste

1 beer

2 ½ c water

1 c white cooking wine

salt to taste

Also, the following spices you’ll have to borrow from me or pick up at the International Food aisle:

  • Bijol

    To dye your rice

  • Sazón Accent con azafrán (comes in a box)

    a spice packet that gives it that little magic

Instrucciones:

You’ll need a pot that’s not too deep. I have a nifty pan for this, see? It’s large, but a little shallow. A dutch oven works fine, too.

Put your chicken pieces, vinegar, salt and oregano in a gallon-size ziplock bag. Squish around to coat. Let marinate for at least an hour.

Pat each piece dry. Using half your olive oil, brown chicken about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a platter.

In the same pot, add remaining oil and sauté onions, garlic, and red pepper, about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for another couple of minutes. (Basically, we call this a sofrito.)

Place chicken pieces back in the pot, right on top of the sofrito.

Add olives, water, beer, wine, tomato paste and one envelope of Sazon accent con azafrán. Add a little salt, about the size of a quarter. (Sorry, this is how my grandmother measures.) Get mixture to boil, reduce heat to simmer. Cook covered for 30 minutes.

The beer gives a terrific taste. You can't skip this.

When you have about 10 minutes left to go on the chicken, measure out your rice and rinse it several times until the water is clear.

Using about 5 or 6 shakes of Bijol, dye the rice yellow. (Don’t go overboard. A little goes a long way.)

That's enough to make the whole bowl of rice amarillo.

When your chicken mixture has cooked, add the rice directly into the pot. Swirl it in until it disappears. Cover and set your timer for 20 minutes.

The rice will soak up the tomato mixture. Turn the rice over slowly when the 20 minutes are up. If it is still soupy, keep cooking. Sometimes, you can put a paper towel between the cover and the pan to help soak up the moisture. This rice tends to be on the moist and sticky side, but it shouldn’t drip.

You can decorate the finished product with petite peas (which my family hates). Many people also decorate with pimentos cut into strips. (Also boycotted at my place.)

¡Que rico!

Serve with a nice bread, salad, and a chilled wine. ¡Buen provecho!

Catch me at Tuckahoe Area Public Library this Saturday, September 10, 2 pm, for a reading of Tia Isa Wants a Car and arts and crafts afterward. One lucky visitor wins a school visit and a signed copy of Tia Isa for their school library.

Dream author interviews and other news

Happy Friday!

Red-letter day for the  Girls of Summer site.  As you know, GOS is a curated reading list that I compiled with the ever-fabulous Gigi Amateau. It is 18 of our favorite books for strong girls. We launched a week ago, and the response has been terrific. Thanks to all of you who have visited and sent sweet emails.

Jacqueline Woodson

But what makes today great is that we add our new Q & A feature. Our fist interview is with Jacqueline Woodson, winner of the Coretta Scott King Award, the Newbery Honor, the Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement, the National Book Award — do I have to go on? Jacqueline was a headliner at last year’s James River Writer’s conference here in Richmond, where I had the pleasure of getting to hear her insights on writing.   I hope you’ll check in today — and every Friday for a new author interview. Together these authors offer the most empowering images of young women today.  Please continue to spread the word, visit each week, and leave comments.

LEAPers showing their true colors

In other news, I’ve been spending a few mornings a week working with my LEAP students at the Steward School. There never seems to be enough time with them, but maybe every teacher feels that way. We’ll be wrapping up our writing and photography work next week. ¡Ay, Chihuahua! There is a lot to do! I’ll be sure to post some of the final projects when I get their permission.

Let’s see…stuff I’m reading:  Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones. It’s adult fiction and glorious in every way. I find myself hearing her voice as she weaves the story of an “outside child” – the daughter of a bigamist’s second wife. (Tayari is coming to the JRW conference in Oct., so if you’re in the neighborhood…) Also getting my time is Uma Krishnaswami’s The Grand Plan to Fix Everything.  I am thoroughly enjoying my romp through India and the “filmi” industry.

Any Bollywood fans?

Finally, by way of my own book news. I will be at University of Virginia this Tuesday as part of the Central Virginia Writing Project, where I’ll meet teachers who are also aspiring writers. (That’s exactly the way I started, so I’m up for the cause.)  Oh, and I got some happy updates this week, too: Tía Isa Wants a Car is up for the Amelia Bloomer project, which celebrates feminist literature. Hurray for strong girls!

Girls of Summer

It’s nearly 100 degrees in Richmond, and my air conditioner is broken. It’s going to take a lot to make me happy this week, folks.

So, thank God for a project I’ve been working on with my friend and fellow Candlewick author, Gigi Amateau.  It’s called Girls of Summer, and it’s our own answer to those official summer reading lists that used to suck the joy out of reading for both of us. How we kept reading, we’ll never know.

If you’re not familiar with our stuff, you should know that Gigi and I both write about strong girls. Hers are southern, mine Latina – but we write about tough cookies, and it turns out, those are the same the world over. This summer, as our own beautiful daughters are graduating from high school, we’ve decided to celebrate girl power through the thing we love most: writing.

Here’s a little taste of what we have in mind via a Mac-made trailer. (Thank you Chris Cheng at SCBWI for teaching me how!) But you’ll have to be patient. We’re still putting the finishing touches on things. In the next few weeks, we’ll roll out the blog with our selections and why we like them. We hope you’ll comment, read interviews with the authors and enjoy hearing snippets of work. Then on July 28, 2011 we’ll feature the list as part of James River Writers’ July Writing Show in Richmond, VA.  You’ll be able to hang out with librarians, teachers, kids, and writers — and you’ll meet Steve Watkins and Valerie Patterson, two Girls of Summer authors who will talk about writing YA with strong girls as the focus. Another reason to attend?  Thanks to extremely generous and enthusiastic publicists at more than a dozen publishers, there’s a drawing to win an entire set of the reading list.

So, stay tuned and stay COOL.