Spotlight on Middle Grade Authors Part 9: Aida Salazar


By Cindy L. Rodriguez

This is the ninth in an occasional series about middle grade Latinx authors. We decided to shine a spotlight on middle grade writers and their novels because, often, they are “stuck in the middle”–sandwiched between and overlooked for picture books and young adult novels. The middle grades are a crucial time in child development socially, emotionally, and academically. The books that speak to these young readers tend to have lots of heart and great voices that capture all that is awkward and brilliant about that time.

Today, we highlight Aida Salazar.

Aida Salazar​ is a writer, arts advocate and home-schooling mother whose writings for adults and children explore issues of identity and social justice. She is the author of the forthcoming middle grade verse novels, THE MOON WITHIN (Feb. 26, 2019), THE LAND OF THE CRANES (Spring, 2020), the forthcoming bio picture book JOVITA WORE PANTS: THE STORY OF A REVOLUTIONARY FIGHTER (Fall, 2020). All books published by Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic. Her story, BY THE LIGHT OF THE MOON, was adapted into a ballet production by the Sonoma Conservatory of Dance and is the first Xicana-themed ballet in history. She lives with her family of artists in a teal house in Oakland, CA.

The Moon Within is her debut novel, which releases on Tuesday!! Here is the publisher’s description:

Celi Rivera’s life swirls with questions. About her changing body. Her first attraction to a boy. And her best friend’s exploration of what it means to be genderfluid.

But most of all, her mother’s insistence she have a moon ceremony when her first period arrives. It’s an ancestral Mexica ritual that Mima and her community have reclaimed, but Celi promises she will NOT be participating. Can she find the power within herself to take a stand for who she wants to be?





Aida Salazar

PictureQ. Who or what inspired you to become a writer?

A. I began to write when I was thirteen years old after the suicide of my seventeen-year-old sister. Poetry was my first refuge. It was the place where I began to express and unravel the pain I felt in my grief over losing my beautiful sister in such an incomprehensible way. Poetry, too, was how I made sense of the simultaneous changes happening to my body, to my mind, inside my community and life. That creative connection was special and it quietly flowed through me and accompanied me while I navigated high school and began college and tried to discover what I wanted to be and do with my life. It remained tucked away in my journals until I was 18 when, for the first time, I read the work of other Latinx writers while in a Latinx literature course. That class not only saved me from academic probation (because I got an A to balance out my terrible grades) but it revolutionized my existence as a Xicana and my own writing that had been hidden in those journals. It was as if the work of Sandra Cisneros, Helena Maria Viramontes, Rudolfo Anaya, Lorna Dee Cervantes, among others, gave me permission to share my own writing with a very Xicana perspective with the world. I could dare call myself a writer because I had their great example.


Q. Why do you choose to write middle grade novels?

A. Middle grade is a tremendously fertile space from which to write because there is a unique tension between two worlds. Middle grade readers, I think, possess the innocence, rich sense of wonder and play inherent in childhood, while at the same time, they are discovering deeper feelings and learning about things beyond their immediate lives that push against childhood. There are so many questions that beg to be answered, so many stories that beg to explore those questions and a new, almost magical, awareness that enfolds as they bloom into wiser beings.


Q. What are some of your favorite middle grade novels?

A. There are so many! I am especially drawn to stories from people of diverse backgrounds, those that break from the white, heteronormative literary cannon. I loved Bird in a Box and The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney – it was actually after reading the latter that I was inspired to write The Moon Within in verse; Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan is a masterpiece (as is just about anything she writes); As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds; Margarita Engle’s Hurricane Dancers; See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng; One Shadow on the Wall by Leah Henderson, Front Desk by Kelly Yang; A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park; and Shooting Kabul by N.H. Senzai; George by Alex Gino; some older titles that are evergreen for me – Bud Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis, Locomotion by Jaqueline Woodson, and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor. However, the middle grade novels emerging from Las Musas (the first kidlit debut group of Latinx writers) have me most excited because they are opening the cannon wider than we have ever seen. Look for great middle grade stories by Anna Meriano, Emma Otheguy, Jennifer Cervantes, Yamile Saied Mendez, Hilda Solis, Mary Louise Sanchez and Claribel Ortega!


Q. If you could give your middle-grade self some advice, what would it be?

A. Don’t be afraid to believe in your poems though they may seem awful and as if they could help no one. Believe in their pain and in their heart because one day that very vulnerability will touch someone else’s life in ways you least expect. And when that magical moment comes, you will realize the meaning in the risk you took in believing.


Q. Please finish this sentence: Middle grade novels are important because…

A. Middle grade novels are important because they can be the source of inquiry, of discovery, of refuge, of delight, and inspiration while on the tight rope between childhood and adolescence.



photo by Saryna A. Jones

Cindy L. Rodriguez was a newspaper reporter for The Hartford Courant and researcher at The Boston Globe before becoming a public school teacher. She is now a reading specialist at a Connecticut middle school. Cindy is a U.S.-born Latina of Puerto Rican and Brazilian descent. She has degrees from UConn and CCSU. Her debut contemporary YA novel, When Reason Breaks (Bloomsbury 2015). She also has an essay in Life Inside My Mind (Simon Pulse 2018). She can be found on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Celebrating the Love Sugar Magic series by Anna Meriano


Words by Anna Meriano, Art by Cecilia Cackley

To celebrate the paperback release of Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano and the release of the sequel, Love Sugar Magic: A Sprinkle of Spirits, please enjoy these profiles of the main characters in the series, along with collage portraits by Cecilia Cackley. Look for the books at your local bookstore or library and try making some of the sweet treats that each of these characters loves! Happy reading and baking!

First, here’s information about the newest book in the series:


Leonora Logroño has finally been introduced to her family’s bakery bruja magic—but that doesn’t mean everything is all sugar and spice. Her special power hasn’t shown up yet, her family still won’t let her perform her own spells, and they now act rude every time Caroline comes by to help Leo with her magic training.

She knows that the family magic should be kept secret, but Caroline is her best friend, and she’s been feeling lonely ever since her mom passed away. Why should Leo have to choose between being a good bruja and a good friend?

In the midst of her confusion, Leo wakes up one morning to a startling sight: her dead grandmother, standing in her room, looking as alive as she ever was. Both Leo and her abuela realize this might mean trouble—especially once they discover that Abuela isn’t the only person in town who has been pulled back to life from the other side.

Spirits are popping up all over town, causing all sorts of trouble! Is this Leo’s fault? And can she reverse the spell before it’s too late?

Anna Meriano’s unforgettable family of brujas returns in a new story featuring a heaping helping of amor, azúcar, and magia.

Now, here are the character profiles:



Age: 18

Power: Influence. First-born Isabel can manipulate the emotions of people around her, making them artificially happy, calm, or even scared. It’s a dangerous power to have, so she uses it carefully, except sometimes when she gets mad at Marisol.

Personality: Isabel is the oldest sister, and she takes on a lot of responsibilities both at home and at the family bakery. She’s patient with Leo and loves studying magic and adding decorative details to baked goods.

HP House: Ravenclaw

Favorite recipe: Tres Leches cake because it’s fun to make and decorate for different occasions. (




Age: 16

Power: Manifestation. Second-born Marisol can pull small objects out of thin air, which comes in handy to stock up her makeup and nail polish collection. She can’t summon anything too large or heavy, but she comes up with a lot of creative ways to annoy Isabel or accomplish tasks with her power.

Personality: Cranky teen Marisol would much rather spend time with her friends than work at the bakery, either on everyday chores or on special magical recipes. She may not be the most patient sister, but she’s a strong ally when things go wrong.

HP House: Gryffindor

Favorite recipe: Payaso cookies because they’re easy and you can text while the dough freezes. (




Alma & Belén:

Ages: 15 (Alma is one hour older)

Powers: Alma and Belén share their third-born power with each other and with their aunt Tía Paloma. All three can see and talk to ghostly spirits from the other side of the veil, and they can summon the spirits so that others can hear or even see them as well. It takes a lot of energy, so it’s good that they each have a partner to work with.

Personalities: Belén and Alma are usually in their own world, whether they’re inventing secret languages, dressing like their favorite fictional characters, or talking to ghosts. Still, they’re dedicated to their family and focused on honing their skills.

HP Houses: Alma: Slytherin (or Ravenclaw) Belén: Ravenclaw (or Slytherin)

Favorite recipe: Pan de muerto because it’s great for contacting spirits! (




Age: 11

Power: Like the rest of her family, Leo can use her baking magic to make cookies that fly, bread that brings luck, and all sorts of pastries with supernatural side effects. But she doesn’t know yet what her special individual power will be. Those powers are usually based on birth order, but Leo’s the first ever fifth-born daughter, so her powers are still a mystery!

Personality: Leo is the baby of the family, which means she sometimes worries about being left out or kept in the dark. She is determined to prove herself as a baker and a bruja, but that determination can lead her to make decisions that aren’t always the best. Like, for example, the time she accidentally put a love spell on her friend and then shrank him!

HP House: Gryffindor

Favorite recipe: Puerquitos (also known as marranitos)! (




Age: 11

Power: Leo’s abuela once told her that magic works in everyone’s life and provides them with a special ability or gift, the thing they’re meant to do. Caroline has a lot of talents, but she hasn’t figured out exactly what her special gift is yet.

Personality: Caroline is Leo’s best friend, a good student and clever plotter. Because of her family in Costa Rica, she can help Leo translate things to and from Spanish. She loves to read and always shows her appreciation for her friends.

HP House: Hufflepuff

Favorite recipe: roles de canela (cinnamon rolls) of all types, from the ones in the vending machine at school to the dry easy to eat ones from the bakery to the gooey delicious ones Leo makes at her house sometimes. (



ANNA MERIANOABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anna Meriano is the author of the “Love Sugar Magic” series, which has received starred reviews from Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Shelf Awareness. A Houston native, she graduated from Rice University with a degree in English and earned her MFA in writing for children from the New School. Anna works as a tutor and part time teacher with Writers in the Schools, a Houston nonprofit that brings creative writing instruction into public schools. In her free time, she likes to knit, study American Sign Language, and play full-contact quidditch.



cecilia-02-originalCecilia Cackley is a Mexican-American playwright and puppeteer based in Washington, DC. A longtime bookseller, she is currently the Children’s/YA buyer and event coordinator for East City Bookshop on Capitol Hill. Find out more about her art at or follow her on Twitter @citymousedc


July-December 2018 Latinx Book Deals


Compiled by Cecilia Cackley

This is a series keeping track of the book deals announced by Latinx writers and illustrators. The purpose of this series is to celebrate book deals by authors and illustrators in our community and to advocate for more of them. If you are an agent and you have a Latinx client who just announced a deal, you can let me know on Twitter, @citymousedc. If you are a Latinx author or illustrator writing for children or young adults, and you just got a book deal, send me a message and we will celebrate with you! Here’s to many more wonderful books in the years to come.

July 3

Stacy Whitman at Lee & Low/Tu Books has bought 2014 New Visions Award finalist On These Magic Shores by Yamile Saied Méndez. The middle grade novel is about Minerva, who wants to be a normal kid and grow up to be the first Latina president of the U.S. But with her mother missing and no family to help her, she fights to keep her sisters safe and out of foster care—with the help of a friend and some fairy dust. Publication is planned for 2020. Author agent: Linda Camacho at Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency.


Sylvie Frank at S&S/Wiseman has bought a middle grade novel, provisionally titled Santiago, by 2017 Pura Belpré Honor author Alexandra Diaz. The story is about a boy’s search for a family and a home as he navigates the perilous border between the U.S. and Mexico. Publication is slated for spring 2020. Author agent: Sarah Davies at Greenhouse Literary.

July 10


July 12

Hannah Allaman and Emily Meehan at Disney Hyperion have acquired world rights to the graphic novel adaptation of Melissa de la Cruz’s The Isle of the Lost, book one of the Descendants series, adapted by Robert Venditti, illustrated by Kat Fajardo. Publication is planned for fall 2018. Illustrator agent: Linda Camacho at Gallt and Zacker Literary Agency.


Kristine Enderle at Magination Press has acquired world rights to Pat Mora‘s (l.) Singing Nana, illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez. The picture book, about a Latina grandmother who is showing early signs of dementia, has sprinklings of Spanish and a recipe for cherry empanadas. The book will release in September 2019. Author agent: Elizabeth Harding at Curtis Brown. Illustrator agent: Claire Easton at Painted Words.

July 17


July 19

Ashley Hearn at Page Street has acquired Isabel Ibañez‘s debut fantasy, Woven in Moonlight, an #OwnVoices Bolivian-inspired political fantasy. In the book, a magically gifted weaver plays the role of double agent to restore her queen to a troubled throne, but upon confronting a masked vigilante and a warm-hearted princess, she discovers that corruption comes in all forms. Publication is set for fall 2019. Author agent: Mary C. Moore at Kimberley Cameron & Associates.


Ada Zhang at Sterling has acquired Serena Williams—G.O.A.T: Making the Case for the Greatest of All Time by Tami Charles (Like Vanessa), a nonfiction sports biography of Serena Williams that makes the argument that she is the greatest tennis player of all time, and aims to show readers how to make a clear, well-researched argument themselves. Publication is scheduled for spring 2019. Author agent: Lara Perkins at Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

July 24


July 26

Shana Corey and Maria Modugno at Random House have bought world rights to Who Took My Nap? by Chris Grabenstein (l.), illustrated by Leo Espinosa. The debut picture book by Grabenstein, author of the Mr. Lemoncello’s Library series, tells the story of an energetic toddler who vehemently resists taking a nap until all the naps are used up and a spare one needs to be found. Publication is set for spring 2020.

July 31


August 7

Monica Jean at Delacorte has acquired Lisa Allen-Agostini‘s Home Home, the story of a Trinidadian girl’s journey to recovery from a mental illness after she is sent to live with her estranged, lesbian aunt and removed from anything and everyone she knows to be home. Publication is set for spring 2020. Author agent: Margot Edwards at Rights Consultancy.


Tracey Keevan and Esther Cajahuaringa at Disney-Hyperion have acquired world rights to XO, Exoplanet by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Jorge Lacera, a picture book told partly in letters between the planets of our solar system and an exoplanet. Publication is scheduled for summer 2020. Illustrator agent: John Cusick at Folio Literary Management/Folio Jr.

August 9


August 16

Stephanie Owens Lurie at Disney-Hyperion/Rick Riordan Presents has bought world rights to Tehlor Kay Mejia‘s Paola Santiago and the Drowned Palace, about a 12-year-old aspiring scientist who begins to suspect that the infamous La Llorona is responsible for her best friend’s disappearance, and she must venture into an underwater world to prove it. Publication is scheduled for fall 2020. Author Agent: Jim McCarthy at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret.


Ellen Cormier at Dial has bought at auction author-illustrator Zara Gonzalez Hoang‘s picture book, A Piece of Wild, about Ren, who moves from the forest to the city, and Ava, who takes on the challenge of helping him find magic in his new environment. The story was inspired by the author’s father and his move from Puerto Rico to New York City. Publication is slated for spring 2020. Author agent: Andrea Morrison and Steven Malk at Writers House.

August 23


August 30

Jill Santopolo at Philomel has preempted world rights to Tami Lewis Brown’s (l.) I Really [Don’t] Care, illustrated by Tania de Regil. Inspired by current events, the story is about a child whose selfishness turns into empathy when he discovers that our similarities matter more than our differences. Publication is set for fall 2019. Illustrator agent: Adriana Dominguez at Full Circle Literary.

September 6

Jennifer Ung at Simon Pulse has acquired North American rights, at auction, to Raquel Vasquez Gilliland’s debut, Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything. Pitched as a Mexican Jessica Jones racing through a David Arnold novel with a pitstop in Roswell, the story centers on a Mexican-American girl who discovers that her mother was abducted by aliens. Publication is planned for summer 2020. Author agent: Elizabeth Bewley at Sterling Lord Literistic.


Eileen Rothschild at Wednesday Books has acquired world English rights to Francesca Flores‘s debut YA novel, Diamond City. In a city full of half-constructed subway tunnels, hidden magical dens, secret weapons markets, and wolf-sized spiders, a young assassin unravels a conspiracy that could rewrite her city’s history and—if it isn’t stopped—sink her country into a catastrophic war. Publication is set for winter 2020. Author agent: Pete Knapp at Park Literary & Media.


Kate Fletcher at Candlewick has bought world rights to Pura Belpré Author Award winner Meg Medina‘s (l.) new picture book, Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away, in which two best friends must say goodbye to each other when one of them moves away. Sonia Sánchez will illustrate; publication is slated for fall 2020. Author agent: Jennifer Rofé at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.


Candice Keimig at ABDO has acquired world rights to the hi-lo adventure series Gavin McNally’s Year Off by Emma Bland Smith (l.), illustrated by Mirelle Ortega. Gavin spends a year traveling the country with his family in an RV, a trip that provides action, adventure, and even danger, including racing from a wildfire, getting lost in a spooky mountain lodge, and saving baby alligators from poachers. Publication for the set of four books is planned for September 2019. Illustrator agent: Lucie Luddington at the Bright Agency.


Rotem Moscovich at Disney-Hyperion has bought The Magical Yet by Angela DiTerlizzi (l.), author of Some Bugs and Just Add Glitter. The book is about the special creature that accompanies each child and helps them accomplish the things they haven’t been able to accomplish—yet. Lorena Alvarez Gómez will illustrate. Publication is set for summer 2020. Illustrator agent: Anne Moore Armstrong at the Bright Agency.

September 11


September 13

Nick Thomas at Scholastic/Levine has acquired The Moon Within author Aida Salazar‘s novel, The Land of the Cranes, a story inspired in part by her own childhood as an undocumented immigrant. The free verse middle grade novel tells the story of nine-year-old Betita, who believes that she and other migrants follow an Aztec prophecy to fly as free as cranes. When her father is deported to Mexico and she and her mother are detained by ICE, she turns to writing picture poems as her own way to fly above the deplorable conditions that she and other cranes experience while they are caged. Publication is set for spring 2020. Author agent: Marietta B. Zacker at the Gallt and Zacker Literary Agency.


Lisa Rosinsky at Barefoot Books has acquired the picture book That’s Not My Bed by debut author Erin Gunti (l.). Pitched via #KidPit on Twitter, the book is about a girl who is spending her first night at a homeless shelter with her mother, and who takes comfort in imagining they are on a fantastical adventure. Gunti drew on her experience as a child abuse and neglect investigator. Mexican artist Esteli Meza will illustrate; publication is set for fall 2019.

September 18

Alexis Orgera and Chad Reynolds at Penny Candy Books have signed a deal with debut picture book author Dani Gabriel and artist Robert Liu-Trujillo (Furqan’s First Flat Top) for world rights to Sam Not Samuel, a picture book about a transgender boy and his family’s journey through his transition. The book was inspired by the author’s son’s story, and will be published on September 10, 2019.

September 20

Liza Kaplan at Philomel has acquired Jenny Torres Sanchez‘s new book, In Exile. Told from the alternating points of view of four immigrant teens and the infamous death train known as La Bestia that carries them across the Mexican-U.S. border, the book charts the emotional and physical struggles of being forced to leave behind everything and everyone you’ve ever known in search of survival and a better life. Publication is slated for spring 2020. Author agent: Kerry Sparks at Levine Greenberg Rostan.


Nikki Garcia at Little, Brown has bought Jennifer Torres‘s The Fresh New Face of Griselda, a middle grade novel about Griselda’s struggles with the changes in her family after they lose their home, and her plan to fix their problems by selling makeup at school. Publication is planned for fall 2019. Author agent:  Jennifer Laughran at Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

September 25

Connie Hsu at Roaring Brook Press has bought world rights to Kevin Noble Maillard‘s Fry Bread, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal. Told in verse, the book explores the culture and history surrounding this Native staple, and how it brings together family and community through love and tradition. Publication is scheduled for fall 2019. Illustrator agent:Stefanie Von Borstel at Full Circle Literary.


Karen Boss at Charlesbridge has acquired world rights to co-authors Jessica Betancourt-Perez (l.) and Karen Lynn Williams‘s (center) picture book, A Thousand White Butterflies, illustrated by Gina Maldonado. Isabella is new to the United States from Colombia, and she misses her papa; a snow day delays her starting school, but then she makes a new friend. Publication is planned for summer 2020. Illustrator agent: Lisa Musing at Advocate Art.

September 27

Karen Lotz at Candlewick Press has acquired, in a seven-house auction, librarian and Ambassador of School Libraries for Scholastic Book Fairs John Schu‘s debut pictdure book, This Is a Story. The story is an exploration of books, humanity, and the need for connection. Caldecott Honor artist Lauren Castillo (Nana in the City) will illustrate; the book is set to publish globally in 2022. Illustrator agent: Paul Rodeen at Rodeen Literary Management.

October 2

Jes Negrón at Kane Press/StarBerry Books has acquired world rights to debut author Valerie Bolling‘s (l.) Let’s Dance!, illustrated by Maine Diaz. The picture book showcases dances from all over the world, with rhythmic prose that encourages readers to tap, spin, and boogie along. Publication is slated for spring 2020. Illustrator agent: Mela Bolinao

October 4

Megan Tingley at Little, Brown has bought, in a preempt, world rights to three works by debut author-illustrator Ani Castillo, launching with Ping, a picture book that humorously explores the challenges and joys of self-expression and social connection. Publication is planned for fall 2019. Author agent: Samantha Haywood and Amy Tompkins at Transatlantic Agency.

October 11


October 16


October 18


October 23

Ann Kelley at Random House/Schwartz & Wade has acquired world rights to Angela Burke Kunkel‘s (l.) Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built, illustrated by Paola Escobar. The book tells the story of a garbage collector in Bogotá, known as the “Lord of the Books,” whose library project began with a single discarded book found on his garbage route, and has expanded to provide reading material to more than 200 schools, organizations, and libraries across Colombia. Publication is planned for fall 2020.

October 25

T.S. Ferguson at Inkyard Press has bought, at auction, world rights to Come On In, a YA anthology covering the experience of immigration, curated and edited by Adi Alsaid. The book features short stories by YA authors who are either immigrants or the children of immigrants, including Samira Ahmed, Zoraida Córdova, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Maurene Goo, Justine Larbalestier, Sona Charaipotra, and many others. The book is set for fall 2020. Author agent: Pete Knapp at Park Literary & Media.


Caitlyn Dlouhy at Atheneum/Dlouhy has acquired world rights to Jump at De Sun by Alicia D. Williams (l.) (Genesis Begins Again), a picture book biography of Zora Neale Hurston. Jacqueline Alcantara, the inaugural winner of the We Need Diverse Books Illustration Mentorship Award, will illustrate. Publication is scheduled for spring 2021. Illustrator agent: Adriana Dominguez at Full Circle Literary.

October 30

Weslie Turner at Macmillan/Imprint has acquired, at auction, Zoraida Córdova (l.) and Natalie C. Parker‘s YA fantasy anthology, Vampires Never Get Old, featuring fresh takes on old souls with vampire stories by Samira Ahmed, Dhonielle Clayton, Tessa Gratton, Heidi Heilig, Julie Murphy, Mark Oshiro, Rebecca Roanhorse, Laura Ruby, Victoria “V.E.” Schwab, and Kayla Whaley. Publication is planned for fall 2020. Author agent: Lara Perkins at Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

November 1


November 6

Joanna Cárdenas at Kokila has bought Each Tiny Spark, a middle grade novel by Pura Belpré Author Honor recipient Pablo Cartaya. In the story, sixth-grader Emilia Torres reconnects with her father over the art of welding as he adjusts from active duty to civilian life and their larger community reckons with the effects of redistricting. The book will publish in summer 2019. Author agent: Jess Regel at Foundry Literary + Media.

November 8

Erin Clarke at Knopf has bought, in an exclusive submission, author of Show and Prove and Efrain’s Secret Sofia Quintero‘s #Krisette, about a teenage girl’s struggle to understand why the police killing of her older sister Krisette fails to spark demands for justice. Inspired by #SayHerName, it features the central theme: “Krisette was deeply flawed and undeniably deserved to live.” Publication is planned for fall 2020. Author agent: Johanna V. Castillo at Writers House.


Kelsey Skea of Amazon/Two Lions has acquired world rights to Nancy Viau‘s Pruett & Soo, illustrated by Jorge Lacera, about an alien whose orderly black-and-white world is upended when he meets an alien from a colorful planet. Publication is set for summer 2020. Illustrator agent: John Cusick at Folio Jr./Folio Literary Management.

November 13

Jennifer Greene at Clarion has bought Natalia Sylvester‘s Running, a YA debut featuring 15-year-old Cuban-American Marianna Ruiz, whose father is running for president, in a novel about waking up, standing up, and what happens when you stop seeing your Dad as your hero—while the whole country is watching. Publication is planned for spring 2020. Author agent: Laura Dail at Laura Dail Literary Agency.


Amanda Ramirez at Simon & Schuster has bought world English rights to Anika Fajardo‘s debut middle grade novel, What If a Fish, featuring 11-year-old, half-Colombian Eddie Aguado. When his older half-brother’s trip to visit Eddie in Minnesota is canceled, Eddie—who has never left his hometown—is sent to spend the summer in Colombia instead. What follows is a generational story of family, identity, and all the things you can find at the end of a fishing line. Publication is planned for summer 2020. Author agent: Thao Le at Sandra Dijsktra Literary Agency.


Jes Negrón at Kane Press has acquired world rights to the Boys of Fire and Ash and the Movers series author Meaghan McIsaac‘s debut picture book, The Book of Laughs, illustrated by James Rey Sanchez (Irving Berlin, the Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing), an interactive rhyming read-aloud. Publication is scheduled for spring 2020. Illustrator agent: Alexandra Gehringer at the Bright Agency.


Alexis Orgera and Chad Reynolds at Penny Candy have acquired world rights to Luli Gray‘s (l.) final book, The Pear Tree, a retelling of a folktale about an old woman named Esperanza who tricks Señor Death. Madelyn Goodnight will illustrate; the book will be published in late 2019. Author agent: Anna Olswanger at Olswanger Literary.

November 15

Cassandra Pelham Fulton at Scholastic/Graphix has bought, in a four-house auction, two Clementine Fox graphic novels by Leigh Luna. The humorous debut middle-grade series features a cast of animal friends who set off for a day of exploration at a mysterious local island; what follows is an unexpected day of adventure, friendship, and lessons learned. Book one is scheduled for 2020. Author agent: Jen Linnan at Linnan Literary Management.

November 20


November 27


November 29


December 4

Reka Simonsen at S&S/Atheneum has bought at auction Emma Otheguy‘s (l.) picture book, A Sled for Gabo, about a boy and his family’s adjustment to snowy weather and their creative solutions for enjoying a wintry day. Pixar artist Ana Ramírez González will illustrate; Atheneum will publish simultaneous English- and Spanish-language editions in fall 2020. Author agent: Adriana Dominguez at Full Circle Literary. Illustartor agent: Andrea Morrison at Writers House.

December 6


December 11

Mark Siegel at First Second has acquired Call Me Iggy, Jorge Aguirre (l.) and Rafael Rosado‘s middle grade graphic novel about Iggy, a Columbian-American teen who gets help from his grandparent’s ghosts to win over his crush. Publication is scheduled for 2021. Author agent: Tanya McKinnon at McKinnon McIntyre.

December 13

Eileen Rothschild at Wednesday Books has bought, in a six-figure preempt for North American rights, Romina Garber‘s Wolves of No World. Inspired by mythology from Garber’s native Argentina, the story weaves together contemporary issues with fantastical elements to explore the immigrant identity and what it means to be “illegal.” When her mother is arrested by ICE, a 16-year-old girl who thinks she’s hiding in Miami because she’s an illegal immigrant discovers it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal—it’s her entire existence. Publication is planned for spring/summer 2020. Author agent: Laura Rennert at Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

December 18

Anne Hoppe at Clarion has acquired world rights to Rebecca Gomez‘s (l.) picture book Federico and the Wolf, illustrated by Elisa Chavarri, a gender-swapped retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood” with a Mexican-American setting. Publication is scheduled for spring 2020. Author agent: Pam Victorio at D4EO Literary Agency. Illustrator agent: Claire Easton at Painted Words.

December 20

Sonali Fry at Little Bee has bought world rights to Silvia Lopez‘s (l.) Selena Quintanilla: Queen of Tejano Music, a picture book about the iconic queen of Tejano music, Selena Quintanilla, whose trailblazing success opened the door for other Latinx entertainers. Paola Escobar will illustrate; publication is scheduled for spring 2020. Author agent: Karen Grencik at Red Fox Literary. Illustrator agent:Amy Kitcherside at Pickled Ink.



cecilia-02-originalCecilia Cackley is a Mexican-American playwright and puppeteer based in Washington, DC. A longtime bookseller, she is currently the Children’s/YA buyer and event coordinator for East City Bookshop on Capitol Hill. Find out more about her art at or follow her on Twitter @citymousedc

Cover Reveal: A New Home/Un Nuevo Hogar by Tania de Regil

We are delighted to host the cover reveal for Tania de Regil’s picture book, A New Home, which will be published by Candlewick Press.


First, here is the official description of the book, which will be released April 9, 2019, in both English and Spanish:

Moving to a new city is exciting. But what if your new home isn’t anything like your old home? Will you make friends? What will you eat? Where will you play? In a cleverly combined voice accompanied by wonderfully detailed illustrations depicting parallel urban scenes, a young boy conveys his fears about moving from New York City to Mexico City, while at the same time a young girl expresses trepidation about leaving Mexico City to move to New York City. This is a very personal book for the author/illustrator, who calls it “…a love letter dedicated to these two magnificent cities, which I’ve had the honor of calling home and seeing for what they really are.” A New Home offers a heartwarming story that reminds us that home may be found wherever life leads.

Now, here’s some information about the author-illustrator:

taniadrTania de Regil was featured in our third Spotlight on Latina Illustrators and this is her American publishing debut. Tania studied fashion design at Parsons School of Design in New York City and finished her studies in her home country of Mexico. Her work as a costume designer in film and television has helped to better grasp the art of storytelling through images. Tania’s illustration work is always filled with interesting details for children to discover. She uses a variety of media in her work, such as watercolor, gouache, color pencils, wax pastels and ink to create richly textured, engaging images. Tania’s debut picture book, Sebastián y la isla Tut, which she both wrote and illustrated, was published in November, 2015 by Macmillan Mexico.

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You can connect with Tania on Twitter and her website.

Book Review: El Verano de las Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall, translated by David Bowles


Review by Katrina Ortega

DESCRIPTION OF THE BOOKOdilia and her four sisters rival the mythical Odysseus in cleverness and courage as they embark on their own hero’s journey. After finding a drowned man floating in their secret swimming hole along the Rio Grande, the sisters trek across the border to bring the body to the man’s family in Mexico. But returning home turns into an odyssey of their own.

Outsmarting mythical creatures, and with the supernatural aid of spectral La Llorona via a magical earring, Odilia and her little sisters make their way along a road of trials to make it to their long-lost grandmother’s house. Along the way, they must defeat a witch and her Evil Trinity: a wily warlock, a coven of vicious half-human barn owls, and the bloodthirsty chupacabras that prey on livestock. Can these fantastic trials prepare Odilia and her sisters for what happens when they face their final test, returning home to the real world, where goddesses and ghosts can no longer help them?

Now in Spanish and translated by David Bowles, the award-winning El verano de las mariposas is not just a magical Mexican American retelling of The Odyssey, it is a celebration of sisterhood and maternal love.

MY TWO CENTS: El Verano de las Mariposas, by Guadalupe Garcia McCall and translated by David Bowles, was originally published in English in 2015 under the title Summer of the Mariposas. Bowles’s Spanish translation came out in March 2018. The content of the book itself has already been spoken on in the review written for the original publication (which you can find here!), so I won’t spend much time on that. I will say that, while this was not my favorite book by Garcia McCall, it was a wonderfully written book and I did appreciate the Spanish translation that I read (which I’ll explain a bit more further down).

First, though, there were a couple of issues that I had with this book. I thought that much of the plot was too far-fetched, even for a book filled with magical realism. This may have stemmed from my recurring frustration with the dynamics between Odilia, the oldest sister, and her four younger siblings. While one should recognize that Odilia is only 15, and that she and her sisters are going through a considerable amount of family stress and anxiety, the order and arrangements of this sisterhood were bothersome to me.

It was made very clear at the beginning of the book that Odilia had largely been playing the part of caretaker for her sisters since their father had left. Her mother emphasized this when Odilia makes a poorly-advised visit to her mother’s workplace. Even still, there were a number of situations where one of the four younger sisters commandeered control of a situation and were determined to do what they (whichever younger sister) wanted to do. This was in direct contradiction to what I felt the philosophy of the sisters’ mantra (“¡Cinco hermanitas, juntas para siempre, pase lo que pase!”). At different times throughout the story, this happened with every single sister. At times, they were almost killed simply because they would not follow Odilia’s lead. At those moments, the younger sisters seemed to be concerned only with their desires, forgetting the ultimate goal of the expedition and even the pledge of togetherness that they supposedly held dear. Seeing this recur throughout the book made the central focus of the story, the bond between the sisters and the theme of family, feel very ingenuine.

Apart from that, though, Garcia McCall has a wonderful way of putting words together that make a story, including this one, come alive. The language that she uses creates very vivid imagery, and brings to life the characters, setting, and action in a wonderful way. Even still, there are many interesting things that have been pointed out about the Spanish translation of this novel. Many native Spanish speakers have observed that the language seems strange, as it’s been translated almost word-for-word and the English sentence structure and phrasing often sounds weird. The exact translations of English idioms into Spanish might be surprising, or sound unusual. It has been pointed out that many of the English idioms are said differently in Spanish and have much more commonly used Spanish variations.

I believe that these are all valid points, but it is also my understanding that Mr. Bowles’s intent was to offer a translation of the book that reached beyond the audience of native Spanish speakers. I believe myself to be an example of the population for whom he may have written a translation like this. I grew up and lived most of my life on the border of Texas and Mexico (I could walk from my house and cross the international bridge to Ciudad Juárez in about 30 minutes). Even still, I am not a native Spanish speaker, or reader, for that matter. I solidified my Spanish reading skills while in high school and college. By the time I could speak Spanish fluently, most, if not all, of the English idioms found in Garcia McCall’s original manuscript were already solidified in my mind. As I was reading through the Spanish translation, my mind pretty easily translated the Spanish words into the English idioms and sayings.

But for readers like me, and for readers who have been speaking English for a good amount of time, many of the phrases that Garcia McCall uses to illustrate how the Garza sisters would speak sound perfectly normal, even in Spanish, because it’s recognizable as Border language. It often sounds exactly the way that Spanish is spoken around border cities because there is a rich mix of English and Spanish combined to create an entirely new dialect. Is it perfect? No, not always. Is it understandable by those who do not come from the area? Most likely. Language is fluid and ever-changing. I found it commendable of both Garcia McCall and Bowles that they kept the characters, setting, and language from the Borderland, the part of the world I’m from, as genuine as they could.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from Lee & Low Books): Guadalupe Garcia McCall was born in Mexico and moved to Texas as a young girl, keeping close ties with family on both sides of the border. Trained in Theater Arts and English, she now teaches English/Language Arts at a junior high school. Her poems for adults have appeared in more than twenty literary journals. McCall is an up-and-coming talent whose debut YA novel, Under the Mesquite, won the Pura Belpré Award and was named a Morris Award finalist. McCall lives with her husband and their three sons in the San Antonio, Texas, area. You can find her online at


ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR: A Mexican-American author from deep South Texas, David Bowles is an assistant professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Recipient of awards from the American Library Association, Texas Institute of Letters and Texas Associated Press, he has written a dozen or so books, including Flower, Song, Dance: Aztec and Mayan Poetry, the critically acclaimed Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky: Mexican Myths, and They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid’s Poems. In 2019, Penguin will publish The Chupacabras of the Rio Grande, co-written with Adam Gidwitz, and Tu Books will release his steampunk graphic novel Clockwork Curandera. His work has also appeared in multiple venues such as Journal of Children’s Literature, Rattle, Strange Horizons, Apex Magazine, Nightmare, Asymptote, Translation Review, Metamorphoses, Huizache, Eye to the Telescope, and Southwestern American Literature. In April 2017, David was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters for his literary work.




FullSizeRenderABOUT THE REVIEWER: Katrina Ortega (M.L.I.S.) is the Young Adult Librarian at the Hamilton Grange Branch of the New York Public Library. Originally from El Paso, Texas, she has lived in New York City for six years. She is a strong advocate of continuing education (in all of its forms) and is very interested in learning new ways that public libraries can provide higher education to all. She is also very interested in working with non-traditional communities in the library, particularly incarcerated and homeless populations. While pursuing her own higher education, she received two Bachelors of Arts degrees (in English and in History), a Masters of Arts in English, and a Masters of Library and Information Sciences. Katrina loves reading most anything, but particularly loves literary fiction, YA novels, and any type of graphic novel or comic. She’s also an Anglophile when it comes to film and TV, and is a sucker for British period pieces. In her free time, if she’s not reading, Katrina loves to walk around New York, looking for good places to eat.


Book Review: Quizás algo hermoso by F. Isabel Campoy, Theresa Howell, illus. by Rafael López


Review by Maria Ramos-Chertok

DESCRIPTION OF THE BOOK: Una edición en español lírica del aclamado e inspirador libro de cuentos ilustrados Quizás algo hermoso, ilustrado por el ganador de la medalla Pura Belpré, Rafael López.

Ganador del Premio Tomás Rivera

¿Qué pueden conseguir unas gotas de color en una comunidad gris? Viendo lo que Mira y sus vecinos descubren, ¡más de lo que nunca pudo imaginarse! Basado en una historia real, Quizás algo hermoso nos revela cómo el arte puede inspirar la transformación – y cómo incluso la más pequeña artista puede llegar a conseguir algo grande. ¡Toma un pincel y únete a la celebración!

A lyrical Spanish language edition of the acclaimed and inspiring picture book Maybe Something Beautiful, illustrated by Pura Belpré Medal winner Rafael López.

MY TWO CENTS: Quizás algo hermoso is hopeful and inspiring, not only because of its message, but because it is based on a true story.  In the book, we meet Mira, a young artist who uses colorful drawings to enliven her world and connect with people in her neighborhood.  When she meets a muralist in her community, her love of art takes on another dimension, and together they work to transform their surroundings by engaging in a collective art project.  Their desire to be inclusive shows their neighbors that artistic expression is accessible to anyone willing to pick up a paint brush. By doing so, they debunk the idea that the label “artist” should be reserved solely for those who pursue formal artistic training.   The permission to create, to unite for a common purpose, and to use beauty as a tool in community empowerment provide valuable motivation for readers imagining how to replicate this magical experience.

Aside from the message, readers will be delighted to know that the illustrator, Rafael López, is the muralist upon whom the story is based. López and his wife Candice, a graphic designer and community organizer, are the ones who envisioned this project in the East Village of San Diego, California. The illustrations are vivid, engaging, and inspiring. The art depicts a multiracial cast of characters, something I personally look for and value in picture books.

I’ve read both the English (2016) and Spanish (2018) versions of the book and thoroughly enjoyed both. I am thrilled that such a relevant and instructional book has been translated into Spanish because it allows the message to reach a wider audience.

TEACHING TIPS: At the most basic level, Quizás algo hermoso can be used to encourage children to engage in art by showing them that one does not have to be a self-identified artist to enjoy and benefit from an art project. Beyond that, the book can be used to introduce community-based art. Whenever possible, I would recommend bringing students on a field trip to view local murals. Part of that lesson might include a discussion about the value and purpose of engaging a neighborhood in such a project.

Aside from the uplifting aspects of the book, there is also a deeper layer to explore related to depressed communities – communities that are dilapidated and somber, like the one in which Mira lived. For students living in such an area, this could be a difficult conversation, but one that might give voice to some important discussions related to class, race, and community resources. There might also be an inquiry as to why pejorative words are sometimes used to describe communities (e.g., slums, ghettos) and how those words make people feel. I’d recommend this conversation for older students.

Teachers can also discuss the benefits of what happens when people come together to work on a common goal: meeting new people, talking to people you might not have otherwise spoken to, and seeing change happen. This could be an opportunity to have your class choose a group project and then have them journal throughout the process about what they are learning about themselves and others.

While the primary audience for this book is younger children, I see a benefit of using it with older children (through fifth grade), especially in bi-lingual classrooms and/or Spanish language classrooms.


isabel-campoyABOUT THE AUTHORS (from the book)Isabel Campoy is an author, anthologist, translator, and bilingual educator who has won many awards for her professional contributions. Her many accolades include ALA Notables, the San Francisco Library Award, the Reading the World Award from the University of San Francisco, the NABE Ramón Santiago Award, the International Latino Children’s Book Award, and nine Junior Library Guild selections. She is a member of the North American Academy of Spanish Language. She lives in Northern California.


THERESA HOWELLTheresa Howell is a children’s book author and editor with many bilingual books to her credit. Mutually inspired by Rafael Lopez’s efforts to transform communities through art, they combined their talents in the lyrical text of Maybe Something Beautiful. She lives in Colorado.



ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR: Rafael López is both the illustrator of this book and the inspiration for the character of the muralist. He was born and raised in Mexico, a place that has always influenced the vivid colors and shapes in his artwork. He now creates community-based mural projects around the world and illustrates award-winning children’s books. Rafael López divides his time between Mexico and San Diego, California.





ABOUT THE REVIEWER: Maria Ramos-Chertok is a writer, workshop leader and coach who facilitates The Butterfly Series, a writing and creative arts workshop for women who want to explore what’s next in their life journey. In December 2016, she won 1st place in the 2016 Intergenerational Story Contest for her piece, Family Recipes Should Never be Lost. Her work has appeared in the Apogee Journal, Entropy Magazine, and A Quiet Courage. Her piece Meet me by the River will be published in Deborah Santana’s forthcoming anthology All the Women in my Family Sing (Jan 2018) She is a trainer with Rockwood Leadership Institute www.rockwoodleadership.organd a member of the Bay Area chapter of Write on Mamas. For more information, visit her website at