Newbery award winner and New York Times bestselling author

Posts tagged ‘young adult literature’

A chat with Jennifer Laughran at a.k.a. Literaticast. Take a listen!

Last week, I had the pleasure of chatting with literary agent Jennifer Laughran over on her podcast where she chats about all things kidlit with those of us in the industry. If you don’t subscribe, do so fast. Jennifer gathers publishing people from across the spectrum, so you get the benefit of understanding this business from multiple perspectives. For our segment, we talked about Merci Suárez and her family. We chatted about creativity and writing for kids of all ages. We touched on world-building in realistic fiction. I explained the importance of community for me especially in the world of social media. I made a few book recommendations, too, and of course, my dog and writing partner briefly joined the conversation. Happy Monday everyone!

My dog Hugo makes an appearance!

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Strap on some literary walking shoes for a new class at University of Richmond

angela_leeperMeet Angela Leeper, the Director of Curriculum Material Center at the University of Richmond, a native Virginian who relocated to Richmond four years ago. Turns out, that’s great news for our city’s literary scene. Angela has served on YALSA‘s prestigious Printz Award and Morris Award Committees; reviews children’s and YA lit for BooklistKirkus, and BookPage; and is currently collaborating with educators across the state to create the Virginia Readers’ Choice for high school.

Since moving here, she’s not only been absorbing Richmond’s  history, but as a children’s and young adult literature specialist, she’s reached out to local authors, too. This January, she’ll combine both those interests in a course for educators who love kids books, local history – and walking. Children and YA in RVA, a reading and walking tour of children’s literature in our city, will be offered at the University of Richmond from January 22 – April 30. Registration is open NOW, so hurry. (See below)

It’s not everyone who sees a clear path between kids books and a good pair of walking shoes, but exploring her new city sparked the idea.

“After many afternoons walking in and around RVA, I imagined how exciting it would be to offer a class like this to educators,” she says.  After discovering that no class like it existed, she created  Children and YA in RVA, a professional development course for teachers, librarians, and other educators interested in learning about Richmond’s literature and history – and  bringing that information back to their classrooms.RVA2

The course will include visits from local historians and authors,  including Gigi Amateau, A.B. Westrick and me. When it’s time to hit the streets, award-winning journalist, historian, and certified U of R instructor Alyson Lindsey Taylor-White will lead three walking tours that relate to the class readings. (Walking fans may recognize Alyson as the force behind the popular “Hello Richmond!” course series.)

“While designed as professional development for educators, anyone is welcome to enroll,” Angela tells me. Children and YA in RVA will meet on Wednesday evenings, 5:00-8:00, from January 22 to April 30. (Don’t worry, the class won’t meet over local school systems’ Spring Break!)

walking-shoes-clipartshoe-prints-clip-art---vector-clip-art-online-royalty-free-l3klhkmtInformation here: (Select Language Arts and Literacy at the link)

To register for Children and YA in RVA, click here.  richmond2

Read Local: You’re invited to Teen ’13

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Like this lapel button? Yours for a buck fifty at Fountain Bookstore, RVA

Mark your fall calendars, teen book lovers. You’re invited to Teen ’13, a literary party that will celebrate Virginia’s homegrown talents. 

If you’ve had the chance to sink your teeth into a local Virginia peach this summer, you already know why it makes sense to buy local.  But you shouldn’t limit yourself to buying local food. You can feel  good about “reading local,” too – especially if you’re a fan of teen fiction. That’s because Virginia has an impressive bench when it comes to authors. We’re home to New York Times bestsellers and to authors who have won the Newbery Award, the Hans Christian Anderson Award, the National Book Award, and other top literary prizes. And that’s to say nothing of the hefty number of Virginia authors whose works regularly grace the annual “Best of” lists  that recognize the top books for kids each year.

ImageFree and open to the public, Teen ’13 will give book fans of all ages a chance to gather at the Richmond Public library to enjoy food and drinks, buy books, meet their favorite authors in person and win everything from indi bookstore gift certificates and free Skype visits to autographed copies of books and more. Fourteen Virginia authors will attend – all of whom have new releases in 2013. (Teen 13 authors and book blurbs.)

It’s exciting enough to have all those creative types in one place. But what’s most satisfying to me is that teen fiction – or YA, if you prefer –  will be part of a few precious days every October when bookish Virginians reign supreme.

VLFOctober is the month when the Library of Virginia’s Literary Festival partners and promotes statewide author events, lectures, writers conferences — even an awards  gala – in an effort to honor people who devote their lives to writing. By including Teen ’13 in their event lineup, our state library is acknowledging  two important things:  More adults are reading YA than ever before — and all of them were once kids who loved books..

YALSA's celebration of Teen books October 13 - 19

YALSA’s celebration of Teen books October 13 – 19

The Richmond Public Library’s main branch will host the event and will include Teen ’13 in their own celebration of TeenRead week, the American Library Association’s annual push to promote teen books. (How’s that for good timing?)

Anyway, we’re giving you plenty of notice and we hope you can come. (Special note to English teachers and/ or professors: Would you consider giving your students some extra credit points for attending?)

Will this be the beginning of an annual celebration? I sure hope so. The signs are certainly there. When my friend and fellow author AB Westrick and I started planning Teen ’13,  we discovered that hosting all the amazing Virginia children’s authors in one place was too large an undertaking. That is a great problem to have. Our hope is that the event will take hold and that there will be a Teen ’14, a Teen ’15 — and lots more after that. Nothing would make us happier.

Teen ’13

Celebrating Virginia Authors and Young Readers 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Richmond Public Library

101 East Franklin Street

Richmond, VA

6 pm- 8:30 pm

Free and open to the public

 

Happy Book Birthday: The Movie!

Well, it’s finally here. Pub day for YAQUI. Here’s a little movie to say thank you to all who helped make this book and send it out into the world. Thanks, Penelope Carrington for the amazing photography. (Click full screen to see all slide captions.)

Cariños de,
Meg

And we have lift-off!

It was amazing to look out and see the huge variety of people in the audience who came to talk about books and bullying at yesterday’s book launch for Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass. Great questions, honest conversation, and a lot of love in the room. Thank you so much for coming to the celebration!

Click on the  word cloud title below for a tiny slide show that emerged from our I feel strongest when prompt. (Thanks AB Westrick for being the input goddess!)

Trey Hartt, Lauren Davis (The Conciliation Project);  ART 180 teen leaders (Jazmin, Jackson, Bre, Chris) and me.Thanks, Candlewick for the gift books!

Trey Hartt, Lauren Davis (The Conciliation Project); ART 180 teen leaders (Jazmin, Jackson, Bre, Chris) and me.
Thanks, Candlewick for the gift books!

I promised to give you the Resources for anti-bulllying, so here they are.  The document is full of unusual arts and community activities that give  young people a voice about their experiences. Film, art events and competitions, on-line communities, books…it’s a great peek at  new ways to look at an old problem. Maybe you will add you own innovations?

Finally, my heroes for the day: Trey Hartt and Lauren Davis of The Conciliation Project; the ART 180 teen leaders; Marlene, Betsy, “the Mikes”at ART 180;  panelists Allison Conyers of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities and Paul Fleisher and Santa Sorenson of the Richmond Peace Education Center; Penelope Carrington for the photography; Gigi Amateau and Virginia Pye for the unglamorous job of food schlepping; bbgb tales for kids for the book sales; Candlewick Press for the gifts to the teens; and the amazing literary community here in Richmond.

Meg’s next appearances:  The Virginia Festival of the Book, March 20 – 24, 2013, Charlottesville, VA. 

Some music for Yaqui Delgado

Fania_All-StarsSo 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.fania

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 girl) is driven by its own, unerring beat or clave.

Celia With Fania All Stars 1974

Sin Clave

March 2013

March 2013

YAQUI DELGADO WANTS TO KICK YOUR ASS will be in stores March 26, 2013.  

Check here for reviews and info.

Check here for book launch event information

Q & A with Christina Díaz Gonzalez

Christina Diaz Gonzalez

It’s a pleasure to introduce you to Christina Diaz Gonzalez as we head into the final week of Hispanic Heritage Month. You may remember her from her debut novel, The Red Umbrella. Her follow-up, A Thunderous Whisper, is also historical fiction, this time set in Europe during the Spanish Civil War. Told through the eyes of 13-year-old Ani, the novel shines a light on yet another corner of World War II.

Before we jump into your new novel, I’d like to know a little bit about you. I understand that you were an attorney at one time. Now, you live in Florida and write lovely books that celebrate Hispanic history. How did you go from one career to the other? 

I was a practicing attorney when my kids learned to read.  Watching their love for books grow rekindled my secret, childhood dream of being a writer.  Soon there was no stopping me and I became passionate about writing.

Guernica by Pablo Picasso

One of the things I most admire about A Thunderous Whisper is that it brings world history to life for American kids.  You take us to a very specific corner of history (specifically to the Spanish Civil War as it connected to Franco’s relationship with Hitler during WWII. You also introduce young American readers to the Basques. Why did this particular episode in history attract you? 

A series of seemingly unrelated events (spread out over the course of several months) led me to write A Thunderous Whisper.  There was a brief discussion with a friend about Pablo Picasso’s famous painting called Guernica, a renewed interest in my family’s Basque roots, a random photo of a sardinera and my discovery of the events surrounding the Basque children during the Spanish Civil War.


This isn’t your first successful foray into historical fiction.
(The Red Umbrella) was set against the backdrop of the Cuban Revolution.) How did you do your research for this new novel?

I read several primary sources and first-hand accounts by the Basque children who survived the bombing of Guernica.  I was also lucky enough to travel to the beautiful cities of Guernica and Bilbao where I was able to meet the director of Guernica’s Museum of Peace and the president of the Historical Society of Guernica.  Being in Spain and meeting such knowledgeable people gave me an invaluable glimpse into life during the Spanish Civil War.

War is a horror of the adult world, and it’s driven by the clash of ambitions and ideals. Yet this story is told from the perspective of twelve-year-old Ani, who is brought into a spy ring. Were there challenges of representing war through a young person’s eyes? And, since we are talking about Ani, how did you decide that she – a lonely sardine girl, would be your protagonist?

I believe young people are active participants in the world that surrounds them.  Ani, having a parent fighting in the war and facing the imminent danger of attacks, would have a strong sense of the war, but would still be limited in her understanding of the reasons behind it.  As for creating the character of Ani, she actually popped into my brain fully formed and so I credit my writing muse for delivering such a wonderful character to me.

For me, the novel’s poignancy was found in the terrible price that children pay during war. The depressive state of their parents, separations, death. Ani faces all of them yet we never doubt that she will survive. What, in your opinion, was the source of her resilience?

Ani’s resiliency stems from an inner strength and belief that, despite what she’s been told, even a whisper of a girl can make a difference.

Mathias, a young Jewish boy, befriends Ani. They grow very close in the novel, but there is a real shift in their relationship immediately following the bombing. And then, of course, he leaves to do what Ani finds unimaginable. Can you tell us a little bit about how you made decisions about Mathias’s story? (And, for the writers out there, how you kept his story from overshadowing Ani’s? He could have had his own novel!)

I wish I could say that I had crafted Mathias’ story because it fulfilled a great literary plan of mine for his character’s arc, but, truth be told, my characters make their own choices and I just write what they do.  Perhaps it’s because I feel like these characters are real people and so I give them permission to do things that I had not originally planned.  One way to keep some of these strong characters in check (not letting them overshadow my main character) is to maintain the focus on the main character’s perspective and always show how the main character reacts to the actions of others.

Your work is part of a growing body of literature by Latino children’s book authors at a time when the national rhetoric surrounding Latino issues is running high.  What are your thoughts on the role, if any, that Latino literature can make in building bridges of understanding?

First of all, there needs to be more literature that has Latino protagonists.  These books should transcend race/culture and be, at their core, good stories.  We live in a diverse society and children’s literature should reflect that! By having more books with Latino characters we can erase some misunderstandings, give insight to problems/situations and bring people together through the power of stories.

How are you celebrating the publication of the novel these days?

I am celebrating by having a mega-launch party in Miami (if anyone is in town on October 13, please come by Books & Books in Coral Gables at 5 pm – I’d love to see you) and I am participating on a blog tour in October and November. I am so excited to have everyone finally be able to read this book!

Finally, are there new projects in the works?

There are always new projects in the works, but it’s still too early to talk about them. Don’t want to jinx them!

In stores October 9, 2012

A THUNDEROUS WHISPER, ALFRED A. KNOPF, OCTOBER 2012,

978-0-375-86929-7

To learn more about Christina and her work visit her on the web

The Badass Galleys are Here

Note: Cover still being finalized

Candlewick sent me the galleys for my YA novel that releases in March 2013. I guess it’s time to tell my mother about the title. !Ave Maria purísima!

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,

Meg

Where to buy Meg’s books and audiobooks.

What I’m Reading for Hispanic Heritage Month

It’s that time of the year again! Hispanic Heritage Month is around the corner (Sept 15 – Oct 15). Here are the picks for my nightstand.

YA/historical fiction set during the Spanish Civil War. You may remember Christina from her lovely debut novel, The Red Umbrella. This one releases early October.

 

Remember Maria from Sesame Street? This is her new YA set in Spanish Harlem in the late 1960s. She had me at the scene with the plastic slipcovers in the living room.

Twelve short stories by Latina authors celebrating the power of friendship.  I adore short fiction as much as I love mis amigas so I’m really excited about this one. Edited by Adriana V López.