Latina writer of books for kids of all ages.

Posts tagged ‘Wendy Shang’

What’s coming new for 2018?

This week on twitter, I’ve been tagged with lots of chain-letter questions, which included things like: Who do you write for?  What was your best writer moment? I usually don’t mind being tagged, although the group replies can get crazy.

But it was one fill-in-the-blank question that got me thinking. 2018 will be…

My response?  A year of change.

So, with that, a couple of small announcements.

source: hamline.edu

I made a huge decision to join the faculty at Hamline’s low-residency MFA program for children’s literature. I’m not sure if I start this summer or in January 2019 (in sub-freezing Minnesota!), but I am really looking forward to working with colleagues like Matt de la Peña, Anne Ursu, Laura Ruby, Swati Avasti, Kelly Barnhill, Gene Yang, and the rest of the stellar faculty I plan to take my interest in diverse literature to Minneapolis, so please spread the word among emerging authors who might want to study writing in a safe (if chilly) space. Children’s publishing continues to lag in its base of writers, editors, and other book professionals from traditionally marginalized communities. We especially need authentic stories by authors who have the skills to hold their own. Some of that will happen as a result of programs like the one at Hamline. This is one part of the pipeline that I’d like to help. Note: Scholarships are available. I’ll throw in the hot chocolate.

Candlewick’s little promo card for NCTE

I also want to formally announce that I’ll be introducing myself to middle grade readers next September. For months, I’ve been enjoying writing to my inner 11-year-old. Now, it’s time for book sellers and readers to see if she will connect. It’s so far away, I know, but pre-pub materials are starting to make the rounds. I’ve been writing picture books and YA for a while, so Merci Suarez Changes Gears (Candlewick Press, September 11, 2018) feels like a big adventure for me.  The change in age range means that I’ll need to make acquaintances at places like the now-famous Nerd Camp in Parma Michigan and other venues that are new to me. Merci Suarez first came into my imagination as part of “Sol Painting,” a short story I wrote for Flying Lessons and Other Stories, which was just listed as an SLJ Best Book of 2017. It’s so exciting to see how it bloomed into a big book, and it’s fun to think about what’s going to happen to Merci out in the world.

There are other smaller news items here and there, but you can keep up with my calendar of events for 2018 here.

For now, though, I’ll leave you with some photos of my travels in November that took me from Virginia to New York and then to St. Louis.

 

With Lamar Giles and Ruta Sepetys at VAASL

Lamar Giles, Ruta Sepetys, me, Wendy Shang and Madelyn Rosenberg – and our room full of librarians at VAASL

 

The judging committee for the National Book Award’s prize for Young People’s Literature. Brendan Kiely, Kekla Magoon, Alex Sanchez, Suzanna Hermans, and me. Our deliberations on the morning of the awards ceremony. Would we agree?

We clean up pretty nicely. Here is the judging committee with our significant others and friends.

I adore Erika Sanchez’s book, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. Such a pleasure to find her at the ALAN conference in St. Louis after the awards

Yes, I gushed. This is me with Francisco Stork. (Have you read Disappeared? Such a page-turner!)  He was lovely in every way. Thank you Mitali Perkins for introducing us.

The is just one example of the beautiful interior of the St. Louis Public Library, commissioned by Andrew Carnegie. It rivals the Library of Congress and NYPL.

Every once in a while, you get a panel that is silly and wonderful. With Julie Murphy, Neal Shusterman, Angie Thomas, and Brendan Kiely in St. Louis.

XO

Meg

I’ll Be Asking the Questions Around Here, Bud: Moderating at the Library of Congress

LibCong

Will you be near Washington, DC on May 25?  If so, I invite you to join me for an hour at the Library of Congress where we’ll talk about the role of heritage in storytelling.

Last year, Karen Jaffe, Executive Director at the Young Readers Center, convened a successful symposium on strengthening families through diversity in children’s literature. It featured Kwame Alexander, Tim Tingle, Ellen Oh, Gigi Amateau and me. (Here’s the video).

We had such a good time that we’ve decided to do it again this year, adding to the menu of interesting initiatives the YRC is up to. (Hosting the recent Walter Awards, adding a new teen board, to name just two.)

So this year, I’m back to help as moderator, asking questions and learning along with everyone else in the room. Some of my favorite up- and-coming voices in children’s lit are on this panel: Wendy Shang, Aisha Saeed, Rene Colato Lainez, and Elizabeth Zunon. All are authors and/or illustrators whose personal stories and experiences have shaped their nuanced and honest books about how we come to see ourselves as part of the American family.

How do we face unflattering characterizations?  What is the balance of writing culturally specific stories and writing the universal?  How does the outsider come to feel like the insider, if ever? What are the challenges of naming and embracing home cultures in works for mainstream classrooms in the US?

All that and more on the 25th. Hope you’ll join us.image001

 

 

Diverse Book Love in Virginia This Week

I’m on a plane back home this morning, but I’ll have just enough time to toss the dirty clothes in the washer and head west on I-64 to Charlottesville for the Virginia Festival of the Book being held this week.

Here’s the schedule; as usual, something for all tastes – from chefs and cookbooks, to cultural icons and children’s book authors. No need to worry that you’ll feel out of your comfort zone. Just get out there and support the literary life of you home state, friends.

My own visit is quick this year. Two school stops (Southwood Boys & Girls Club and Jack Jouette Middle School) but also an important Thursday evening panel that comes against the backdrop of the alarming national conversation (if we can we still call it that) about immigrants in this country.

I hope you’ll attend Beyond Background Characters: Life in Hyphen-American. Check out the author bios, and join us!

When: Thursday, March 17, 2016, 8:00 PM

Where: UVa Culbreth Theater (109 Culbreth Rd, Charlottesville, VA 22903)

Who: 

Sara FarizanFarizan_TellMeHow_jkt_pbk_rgb_2MB

Sara Farizan, author of Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel, is the daughter of Iranian immigrants, and was born in Massachusetts. She is an MFA graduate of Lesley University and holds a BA in film and media studies from American University. She is also the author of If You Could Be Mine.

 

Lamar GilesEndangered

Lamar Giles, author of the YA thrillers Endangered and Fake ID, which was a 2015 Edgar Award nominee, is a speaker and founding member of We Need Diverse Books. 

 

BurnBabyBurn_cvrSktch-7 copy 2Meg Medina

You know this lady?

 

 

 

Wendy Shang9780545609586_a5cd3

Wendy Shang, author of The Way Home Looks Now, lives in northern Virginia. Her first book, The Great Wall of Lucy Wu, received the Asian-Pacific American Librarians Award for Children’s Literature and was placed on several state reading lists.

 

1200x630bfModerator: Gustavo Pérez Firmat

Gustavo Pérez Firmat, author of A Cuban in Mayberry: Looking Back at America’s Hometown, has published a number of books of literary and cultural criticism, as well as several collections of poetry in English and Spanish.

See you in Charlottesville!

Living la vida loca

I haven’t written in more than a week, but that’s because my life has sped up like a Toyota with a stuck gas pedal.

Kathy Erskine's Q & A will appear on Girls of Summer in early August.

It’s hard to complain, though. My days are crammed with things I love. The Girls of Summer Q & As are coming in. I hope you caught Cathryn Clinton this week — and Jacqueline Woodson before that. (Every Friday, a new author answers our questions, so stay tuned.)

I’ve been corresponding with students who are working with author (and professional gummie bear eater) Wendy Shang in northern Virginia, and my own summer residency with the Latino Education Advancement Program wrapped up. Here’s Freddie’s piece so you can see why I love this group.

ESL had just finished, and I jostled my way towards the lunch line. Passing by the fifth grade hallways, I was hoping to be as big and smart as they were one day. I got in the cafeteria line and as usual, the cafeteria cashier smiled and said, “Have a good lunch, my little tootsie roll.”

I went to the table where my class sat and talked to my friends: Tyler, Patterson, Michael, Michael, and Conner Lugio.  As we swapped our lunches, I had to crush my napkin because my mom left me a note saying she loved me. Although it was in Spanish and my friends could not read it, it was still embarrassing.  

It was halfway through lunch when I saw her: Alexa.  She had blonde hair and green eyes, and each time she came into the room with her smiling glow, I would get jittered up in my stomach.  Her best friend, Jackie, was sitting next to her; she also had blonde hair, but I didn’t really like her much, except that she had the chocolate that I liked: Snickers.  See? I have always been a true romantic.

Looking ahead to this week, I join Richmond Young Writers for a day of writing magical realism. I’ve been looking forward to this for several months. First of all, I adore magical realism. Second, kids never have to make much of a leap into magic. It’s still part of how they move through the world. All I have to do is give them a few reminders.

Here’s one story starter:  When the Moon first came to complain to Raul in his dreams, she was terribly rude.

Give it a try see what happens.

More soon.

Four Days as a Kid’s Book Radical: CHLA

I’m just back from four days at the Children’s Literature Association’s conference. This year’s theme? Change and Insurrection in Children’s Literature.

view from my dorm at Hollins

The conference was held at Hollins University. For me that meant a three-hour ride through some of the most beautiful countryside in Virginia. Scholars of children’s literature from universities across the world came to present papers and debate ideas about books for kids.  I sat in on sessions about apocalyptic heroines and the use of music as a catalyst in YA literature; on racial whitewashing in The Babysitters Club and “kick-ass slayers and teen terminators;” on gendered portrayals; on how Maurice Sendak tackled taboo. Often, it made my brain hurt the way a good workout reduces my muscles to Jello. Here are a few other reasons I’m so glad I got invited.

Valerie Patterson, Brie Shannon, Steve Withrow and me

Steve Withrow’s documentary The Library of the Early Mind. Steve is a children’s book author and now a film producer. His documentary is a collection of the big names in children’s literature – authors, influential critics, librarians — talking about the books that are on everyone’s shelves. It is by turns informative, heartbreaking and hilarious. (Yes, Lemony Snickett is just as over-the-top in real life). I hope this movie gets shown everywhere and that it finds its way to PBS because it’s fantastic. Beyond the absolute “cool factor” of seeing what each author looks and sounds like – it’s an intriguing look at why and how writers compose.  Here’s a peek at his trailer.

A beautiful exhibit on children’s book illustration at the Eleanor Wilson Museum on campus. The lecture by illustrator Thacher Hurd made my whole Saturday. He’s the son of Clement Hurd, illustrator for the beloved classic, Goodnight Moon.  His family knew Margaret Wise Brown – known to them as Brownie – who was, of course, also the author of The Runaway Bunny and countless other works that have endured. How strange to find out she loved fur coats and was fond of a sport called “beagling.” (Think fox hunting on foot, except with a rabbit as the victim in the dog chase.) You have to shudder to think what might have inspired the title for that classic bunny tale.

Sitting on a panel with Uma Krishnaswami (The Grand Plan to Fix Everything), Wendy Shang, (The Great Wall of Lucy Wu), and Maha Addasi (The White Nights of Ramadan).  It felt like a meeting old friends as we talked about multicultural books and why we write them. Thanks to everyone who came out so early to hear us.

Julia Mickenberg and Philip Nel’s awesome paper called “Radical Children’s Literature Now.” They covered books that truly speak to conservation and  to organizing for opposition. They listed books that challenge gender roles, tackle war, and speak to LGBT issues openly and joyfully.  Here are the notes.

Dinner with my friend and colleague Valerie O. Patterson (The Other Side of Blue), Brie Shannon, and other friends.  The grilled seafood and naan (bread) was delicious!