Summer Break and Upcoming Changes

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As of today, we are on summer hiatus. We are also on the precipice of big changes.

Since we started posting on September 16, 2013, we have published 657 posts that celebrate Latinx creators. We’ve had more than 800,000 hits from all over the globe, and we have more than 11,000 followers across our platforms.

We are proud of what we’ve created. We know that more people have been introduced to Latinx kid lit by landing on our site. At this point, however, we need to shift gears to continue the work we do here while also managing our full-time jobs, personal lives, and other creative endeavors.

So, here’s what you can expect:

  • This site will remain live as a free resource for all.
  • This summer, we will make sure that our book review pages are updated and that our reviews are posted on book buy sites, like Amazon and Barnes & Noble to help creators with visibility and inform people browsing for books to buy.
  • We will post here at times, but we will no longer post weekly or twice a week, as we have been. It’s just too much.

Instead…

We will publish a monthly newsletter that will include similar content: new releases, book reviews, Q&As with authors and illustrators.

To get the newsletter in your inbox, you will need to subscribe. Click here: http://eepurl.com/hzptzX

Thank you for being on this journey with us.

Be sure to subscribe to keep up to date on Latinxs in Kid Lit.

Book Review: No Filter and Other Lies by Crystal Maldonado

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Reviewed by Alexandra Someillan

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHERS: You should know, right now, that I’m a liar.

They’re usually little lies. Tiny lies. Baby lies. Not so much lies as lie adjacent.

But they’re still lies.

Twenty one-year-old Max Monroe has it all: beauty, friends, and a glittering life filled with adventure. With tons of followers on Instagram, her picture-perfect existence seems eminently enviable.             

Except it’s all fake.         

Max is actually 17-year-old Kat Sanchez, a quiet and sarcastic teenager living in drab Bakersfield, California. Nothing glamorous in her existence—just sprawl, bad house parties, a crap school year, and the awkwardness of dealing with her best friend Hari’s unrequited love.

 But while Kat’s life is far from perfect, she thrives as Max: doling out advice, sharing beautiful photos, networking with famous influencers, even making a real friend in a follower named Elena. The closer Elena and “Max” get—texting, Snapping, and even calling—the more Kat feels she has to keep up the façade.   

But when one of Max’s posts goes ultra-viral and gets back to the very person she’s been stealing photos from, her entire world – real and fake — comes crashing down around her. She has to figure out a way to get herself out of the huge web of lies she’s created without hurting the people she loves.  

But it might already be too late.

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MY TWO CENTS: After reading her second book, No Filter and Other Lies, Crystal Maldonado has become one of my official auto-buy authors. There is something about Crystal Maldonado’s writing that always brings me to tears and makes me feel all the feelings for the characters she creates!

One of my first impressions of the main character Kat Sanchez is that I loved how secure she was in her body and never felt a need to hide her beautiful, fat, brown body. We need many stories about fat and queer characters who accept their bodies, especially since women constantly get bombarded with unrealistic beauty standards in social media.

Despite Kat being secure with herself, she is flawed and not inherently likable. She does some awful things in the novel that does severe damage. However, there was still a vulnerability that showed the dichotomy of the character. Even though she did terrible things, I still cared for her and wanted to be that big sister to shake some sense into her.

The feeling that Kat had of not being seen or validated is something that many people can relate to, especially regarding the harmful effects of social media and the inherent racism behind it. However, sometimes it can be uncomfortable to admit it. Still, we are all guilty of playing the comparison game and fooling ourselves into thinking someone’s life in social media is perfect when in reality, it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Even though Kat did terrible things throughout the book that made me want to scream at her repeatedly, this book did tug at my heartstrings. One of the things I loved was a bond she developed with a dog that made me cry tears of joy. In addition, the family dynamics were well-written, and the close bond she has with her Abuelos and how they support her, even when she did unforgivable things, warmed my heart because of how loving and kind they were. Kat also has a great support system of friends who are there for Kat through her worst moments, and I loved reading how they interacted and learned from one another through their hardships.

No Filter and Other Lies perfectly articulates the pressures of social media and the need to construct the perfect version of yourself and how,little by little, that veneer of perfection cracks over time. If you’re looking for a fat, brown, messy bi-sexual character who struggles through the pressures of social media, this is the book for you!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her website): Crystal Maldonado is a young adult author with a lot of feelings. Her debut novel, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega, is a 2021 New England Book Award winner, a Cosmopolitan Best New Book, and a POPSUGAR Best New YA Novel. Her next novel, No Filter and Other Lies, explores teenage life in the social media age—and the lies we tell to ourselves and others.

By day, Crystal works in higher ed marketing, and by night, she’s a writer who loves Beyoncé, glitter, shopping, and spending too much time on her phone. Her work has been published in Latina, BuzzFeed, and the Hartford Courant.

She lives in western Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and dog. Find her everywhere @crystalwrote or crystalwrote.com.

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ABOUT THE REVIEWER: Alexandra Someillan is a freelance book reviewer and teacher who lives in Miami, FL. She has written for Frolic Media, where she has raved about her favorite Latinx romances. Currently, she has been accepted in the Las Musas mentorship and is working on her Latinx contemporary novel with Nina Moreno. Usually, you can find Alexandra obsessing over nineties pop culture and eating too many pastelitos.

Book Review: The Year We Learned to Fly, written by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López

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DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López’s highly anticipated companion to their #1 New York Times bestseller The Day You Begin illuminates the power in each of us to face challenges with confidence.

On a dreary, stuck-inside kind of day, a brother and sister heed their grandmother’s advice: “Use those beautiful and brilliant minds of yours. Lift your arms, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and believe in a thing. Somebody somewhere at some point was just as bored you are now.” And before they know it, their imaginations lift them up and out of their boredom. Then, on a day full of quarrels, it’s time for a trip outside their minds again, and they are able to leave their anger behind. This precious skill, their grandmother tells them, harkens back to the days long before they were born, when their ancestors showed the world the strength and resilience of their beautiful and brilliant minds. Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael Lopez’s dazzling art celebrate the extraordinary ability to lift ourselves up and imagine a better world.

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MY TWO CENTS:  As one of the people who experienced public education in the 1960s and 70s as a place that dimmed my imagination, I am grateful to Jacqueline Woodson for lifting up imagination as a source of empowerment. Her newest children’s book has many layers worth exploring. At face value its audience is children, yet in reading it as an adult, I learned a great deal about black folklore. 

On the last page of the book, the author writes about her inspiration for the story: The People Could Fly:  American Black Folktales by Virginia Hamilton. In order to do my book review justice and to honor the author’s inspiration, I secured two copies of The People Could Fly, the original collection of twenty-four stories published in 1985 and the picture book published in 2004 as a tribute to Virginia Hamilton who passed away in 2002. By reading this folktale and locating it in the context of American slavery, I was able to appreciate the rich legacy that Jacqueline Woodson’s book continues. It’s certainly not necessary to read The People Could Fly before reading Woodson’s story about a brother and sister who use their imagination to lift them out of boredom, conflict, and adversity, but it’s certainly well worth it. In Woodson’s tale, I enjoyed both the relatability of the sibling’s quandaries and message about the power of the mind to “free” us.

There is also a strong message about the role that grandparents and ancestors play in sharing folk wisdom.

The illustrations by Rafael López are spectacular. I am glad I have read this book and would recommend it to others.

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TEACHING TIPS: The Year We Learned to Fly would be a good entry to discussing American History, specifically the institution of slavery, to elementary aged students. In contrast, the picture book The People Could Fly (referenced above) seems more suited to middle school aged children or older.

I also see an opportunity to use the book to discuss strategies for dealing with conflict, boredom, and adversity by having students describe what they typically do in each situation and then imagining what they might do differently. 

In a lesson about family trees or ancestors, students can discuss what they’ve learned from the elders in their lives and talk about what valuable lessons they would want to pass on to future generations when they become ancestors/elders. It could be a good time to introduce the word “folklore” and/or “folktale” and discuss the role it plays in families and in preserving cultural traditions and identity.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her website): Jacqueline Woodson is an American writer of books for adults, children, and adolescents. She is best known for her National Book Award-Winning memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, and her Newbery Honor-winning titles After Tupac and D FosterFeathers, and Show Way. Her picture books The Day You Begin and The Year We Learned to Fly were NY Times Bestsellers. After serving as the Young People’s Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017, she was named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress for 2018–19. She was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 2020. Later that same year, she was named a MacArthur Fellow.

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ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR (from his website): Rafael López is an internationally recognized illustrator and artist. His illustrations bring diverse characters to children’s books and he is driven to produce and promote books that reflect and honor the lives of all young people. Born and raised in Mexico City to architect parents, López was immersed in the rich visual heritage, music and surrealism of his native culture.

Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You written by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor focuses on differently abled kids working together to create a garden and became a #1 New York Times Children’s Picture Books Bestseller in 2019. It was honored with the 2020 Schneider Family Book Award from the American Library Association. The Year We Learned to Fly written by Jacqueline Woodson was a 2022 New York Times Bestseller. He also collaborated with Woodson on The Day You Begin which became a New York Times #1 Children’s Picture Books Bestseller and received the 2019 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award and National Cartoonist Society Book Illustration Award. His illustrations for Dancing Hands, How Teresa Carreño played the piano for President Lincoln written by Margarita Engle received the American Library Association, 2020 Pura Belpré medal. He also secured the 2016 Pura Belpré medal for illustration for Drum Dream Girl and the 2010 Pura Belpré medal for Book Fiesta. In 2017 he was awarded the Silver Medal from the Society of Illustrators, New York Original Art show for his work on Bravo! Poems about Amazing Hispanics. In 2019 he created the American Library Association Latino Heritage Festival poster and in 2012 was selected by the Library of Congress to illustrate the National Book Festival poster. He is the recipient of the 2017 Tomás Rivera Children’s Book Award, multiple Pura Belpré honors and two Américas Book Awards.

His clients include Amnesty International, Apple, Atheneum Books, Charlesbridge Publishing, Chicago Tribune, HarperCollins, Henry Holt & Company, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,  IBM, Intel, Lee & Low books, Library of Congress, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Penguin Books, Scholastic Books, Simon & Schuster, the Grammy Awards, United States Forest Service, United States Postal Service, The Washington Post and the World Wildlife Fund. His work has been selected into multiple juried shows with illustrations featured in publications like Communication Arts, the American Illustration Annual, Graphic Design USA and the Huffington Post.

He is a founder of the Urban Art Trail movement in San Diego’s East Village creating a series of large-scale murals that brought the community together. His murals can be found in urban areas, at children’s hospitals, public schools, under freeways and at farmer’s markets around the country. López’s community work with murals is the subject of the children’s book Maybe Something Beautiful, How Art Transformed a Neighborhood.

López was commissioned to create twelve United States Postal Stamps  including a series of five Mariachi  stamps featuring musicians dressed in the traje de charro, playing guitar, guitarrón, vihuela, violin and trumpet. He also created the  Latin Music Legend Series, Merengue stamp and a stamp celebrating an important legal case in equality of education, Mendez v. Westminster. His stamps have been featured on the cover of the commemorative stamp yearbook and exhibited at the Smithsonian. In 2008 and 2012 he was asked to create official posters for the Obama campaign to win the pivotal Latino vote. The illustrator lives and works in an industrial loft in downtown San Diego and at his home/studio in the colonial town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

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ABOUT THE REVIEWER: Maria is the author of The Butterfly Series: Fifty-two Weeks of Inquiries for Transformation. The book was a finalist for the 2019 International Book Awards (Women’s Issues category), won Honorable Mention in the 2019 Reviewers Choice Award (Body/Mind/Spirit category), and won Honorable Mention in the 2020 Writer’s Digest 28th Annual Self-Published Book Awards (Inspirational category).

To sign up for her monthly blog post visit her contact page at www.mariaramoschertok.com

Celebrating 25 Years of the Pura Belpré Award: Book Talk About Esquivel!: Space-Age Sound Artist by Susan Wood, illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh

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We are an affiliate with Indiebound and Bookshop. If If you make a purchase through these links, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a small commission.

The Pura Belpré Award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latinx writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.

We have been marking the award’s 25th anniversary in different ways on the blog. Today, Dr. Sonia Rodriguez and Emily R. Aguiló-Pérez talk about Esquivel!: Space-Age Sound Artist by Susan Wood, illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh. The book won the 2017 Pura Belpré Illustration Honor Award.

Cover for Esquivel!  Space-Age Sound Artist

ABOUT THE BOOK: Gorgeously illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh, this lively biography follows Juan Garcia Esquivel from Mexico to New York City. Juan grew up to the sounds of mariachi bands; he loved music and became a musical explorer. Defying convention, he created music that made people laugh and planted images in their minds. His musical dreams brought him from Mexico to America and gained him worldwide renown. Juan’s space-age lounge music—popular in the fifties and sixties—has found a new generation of listeners. This account honors Esquivel as one of the great composers of the 20th century.

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You can find our book talks on our new YouTube channel!

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Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez, PhD is an Associate Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College (CUNY) where she teaches composition, literature, and creative writing. Her academic research focuses on decolonial healing in Latinx children’s and young adult literature. Sonia is a Mellon Emerging Faculty Leader.

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Emily R. Aguiló-Pérez is an Assistant Professor of English (Children’s Literature) at West Chester University of Pennsylvania.  Her teaching and research are in the areas of children’s literature (particularly Latinx literature), girlhood studies, and children’s cultures. Her published work has focused on girlhood as represented in literature and Puerto Rican girls’ identity formation with Barbie dolls. She has presented research on Latinx children’s books at various conferences and has served on children’s book award committees such as the 2017 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award and the 2018 Pura Belpré Award. Currently, she is part of the Pennsylvania Center for the Book’s “A Baker’s Dozen” committee.

Celebrating 25 Years of the Pura Belpré Award: Book Talk About Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book by Yuyi Morales

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We are an affiliate with Indiebound and Bookshop. If If you make a purchase through these links, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a small commission.

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The Pura Belpré Award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latinx writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.

Today, Dr. Sonia Rodriguez and Dora M. Guzmán talk about Just A Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book by Yuyi Morales. The book won the 2003 Pura Belpré Illustration Award. You can find our book talks on our new YouTube channel!

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Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez, PhD is an Associate Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College (CUNY) where she teaches composition, literature, and creative writing. Her academic research focuses on decolonial healing in Latinx children’s and young adult literature. Sonia is a Mellon Emerging Faculty Leader.

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Dora M. Guzmán is a bilingual reading specialist for grades K-5 and also teaches college courses in Children’s Literature and Teaching Beginning Literacy. She is currently a doctoral student with a major in Reading, Language, and Literacy. When she is not sharing her love of reading with her students, you can find her in the nearest library, bookstore, or online, finding more great reads to add to her never-ending “to read” pile!

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Please Support Us Through Patreon!

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Since 2013, the Latinxs in Kid Lit site has been a trusted resource for educators, book buyers, and readers. Our contributors have written over 590 posts, which have included reviews, Q&As with authors and illustrators, cover reveals, guest posts by creators, and news about book deals. We have done all of this to highlight and celebrate the young adult, middle grade, picture books, and graphic novels by Latinx creators. And we have done all of this work for free.

Moving forward, we would like to pay our contributors for their efforts and add more writers. We ask our loyal followers to support us financially, for as little as $1 each month, so we can offer current and future contributors paid writing opportunities. We typically run 1 or 2 posts each week. Any additional money raised would be used to pay for website hosting. If we make more than we need to run the site, then we can also start to support the creative Latinx community in other ways.

Please visit our Patreon page and consider being one of our patrons. You may also support us with a one-time donation to our PayPal or Venmo accounts:

Patreon: www.patreon.com/latinxsinkidlit

Venmo: @latinxsinkidlit

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