Book Birthday: What the Wind Can Tell You

 


Happy book birthday to What the Wind Can Tell You

(May 15, Islandport Press)

About the book:

In this new middle grade novel by Sarah Marie Aliberti Jette, seventh-grader Isabelle Perez is fascinated by wind. And this year, she’s determined to win the middle school science fair with her wind machine. She’s just as determined to have her brother, Julian, who has a severe form of epilepsy and uses a wheelchair, serve as her assistant. But after Julian has a grand seizure, everything changes.

Isabelle is suddenly granted entry into Las Brisas, a magical world where Julian’s physical limitations disappear, and one, she discovers, that he visits every night. The more Isabelle explores Las Brisas, the more possibilities she sees––for Julian, and for herself––and the more she finds herself at odds with her parents. Debut author Sara Marie A. Jette has told, with remarkable insight, humor, and a touch of magical realism, a powerful story of a family struggling to love without fear.

About the author:

Sarah Marie Jette grew up in Lewiston, Maine, and now lives in Belmont, Massachusetts, but her route from Maine to Massachusetts was anything but a straight line. She got her degree in English and Women’s Studies at Mount Holyoke College, then went halfway around the world to serve in the Peace Corps in Mongolia. She then studied rehabilitation counseling at Boston University’s Sargent College of Rehabilitation before turning to teaching. She now teaches fourth grade at Thompson Elementary School in Arlington, Mass. Somehow, between her students and her own three young children, she finds time to write. “Finding time to write is hard, but necessary,” she says.

  1. How does your heritage affect your writing? Why did you choose to make Isabelle and her family Mexican-American? 

A: When I wrote What the Wind Can Tell You, I made Isabelle Mexican-American because I wanted to write the character I searched for as a child. I spent my childhood searching for characters who looked like me in books. Fairy tale princesses were always ‘fair.’ The books I read described characters with blue eyes and freckles. Whenever I found a character with dark hair or brown eyes, I told myself that they were like me, though, deep inside, I knew that they weren’t. Representation matters—not token characters in the background, but complex and interesting characters from diverse backgrounds that you can fall in love with. I make an effort to fill my classroom library with diverse books. There are more than there used to be, but still not enough.

Q: What was the inspiration for What the Wind Can Tell You?

A: The inspiration for What the Wind Can Tell You was a single lightning bolt. It hit me as I drove home after visiting with friends. I had just held their newborn baby and spent time with the baby’s big brother. On my drive, I imagined the relationship these boys were going to have. I thought about the love between siblings and how special it is. I pulled my car over and wrote my idea down on a paper napkin.

The baby’s big brother has epilepsy, much like my character, Julian. He was diagnosed when he was a few months old. On Sunday mornings, for about two years, I babysat him. I held him, fed him, changed his diapers, soothed him through seizures, and read to him. Sometimes, therapists visited and I learned ways to help him strengthen his muscles or track objects with his eyes. His music therapists were my favorite.

I had been writing for years, but this was the first time I found a story that felt so right. I wrote furiously and completed the first draft in three months. It would be many more years of revising before my story was ready to submit to editors, but my inspiration carried me through.

Q: Do you have any writers or books you most admire and turn to for inspiration? 

A: I admire the writing of Michelle Cuevas. The language in her books is rich and beautiful. She deals with big issues—growing up, identity, and loss—but she is also very playful in her writing. I love reading her books out loud so I can see how my students react to her words. I am also a big fan of Jonathan Auxier. I read his book Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes to my students every year. His stories are unusual, engaging, and a lot of fun.

Best of luck to the brand-new What the Wind Can Tell You

Book Review: Ugly Cat and Pablo by Isabel Quintero

 

Review by Cecilia Cackley

DESCRIPTION OF THE BOOK: Ugly Cat is dying for a paleta, or ice pop, and his friend Pablo is determined to help him get one by scaring a little girl who is enjoying a coconut paleta in the park. Things go horribly wrong when, instead of being scared, the little girl picks Pablo up and declares that he would make a great snack for her pet snake. Oh and there’s also the small problem that Ugly Cat may have inadvertently swallowed Pablo in all of the commotion!

Ugly Cat and his impeccably dressed mouse friend, Pablo, are an unlikely and dynamic duo who will win young readers over with their ridiculously silly antics and their search for tasty treats.

MY TWO CENTS:  As Pablo likes to say “Oh my galleta!” What a charming, silly, delightful book! I was captivated by Ugly Cat and Pablo from the very first page. They are a fantastic odd couple, one pre-occupied with food and the other with adventure. Quintero’s dialogue is snappy and if some of the vocabulary is a little above the average elementary reader, it makes it a great read-aloud and vehicle for introducing new words in both English and Spanish. I appreciate that the Spanish isn’t italicized and all the characters go back and forth between both languages, so no one is singled out as the ‘Other’.

Quintero slips in some good lessons about being kind to friends, listening, and using your words when there’s a misunderstanding. This book falls squarely in the genre of buddy animal comedy, with tons of kid appeal. The setting of an urban park is well chosen and readers will be almost as hungry as Ugly Cat by the time they finish reading the descriptions of all the great street food. Best of all, this is a series, so students who fall in love with Ugly Cat and Pablo will soon have more adventures to giggle over.

Extra points to Scholastic for great book design and back matter! Ugly Cat and Pablo each have their own font for their dialogue, giving a comic book sensibility to the pages that don’t have any word bubbles as part of the illustrations. There are pictures on almost every page to lend support to visual learners, a glossary at the back that translates the Spanish, and even a recipe for Ugly Cat’s favorite treat, paletas.

TEACHING TIPS: The strong characters and specific setting make this a great choice for elementary school book groups. Students can discuss the motivations each character, their misunderstandings and predictions for what will happen at all the cliff-hanger chapter endings. Students could also write their own endings for some of the book’s incidents and make different choices for the characters.

Another great project would be to compare the friends in this book to other animal books with friends, such as classics Frog and Toad or George and Martha, or more contemporary stories such as The Story of Diva and Flea by Mo Willems. Students could also compare the parks and streets of Paris in Diva and Flea to the parks and streets in Ugly Cat and Pablo.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Isabel Quintero is a writer and the daughter of Mexican immigrants. She was born, raised, and resides in the Inland Empire of Southern California. She earned her BA in English and her MA in English Composition at California State University, San Bernardino. Gabi, A Girl in Pieces from Cinco Puntos Press, her first novel, is the recipient of several awards including the 2015 William C. Morris Award for Debut YA Novel and the California Book Award Gold Medal for Young Adult. In addition, the book was included on School Library Journal’s Best Books of 2014, and one of Kirkus’ Best Teen Books of 2014, among other lists. The first in her series of chapter books for Scholastic, Inc. Ugly Cat and Pablo, was released in Spring 2017. Her first graphic novel, a biography about photographer Graciela Iturbide, released by Getty Publications in March 2018. In addition to writing fiction, she also writes poetry and her work can be found in The Great American Literary Magazine, Huizache, As/Us Journal, The Acentos Review, The Pacific Review, and others. You can follow her on Twitter @isabelinpieces or visit her website laisabelquintero.com.

 

 

ABOUT THE REVIEWER: Cecilia Cackley is a performing artist and children’s bookseller based in Washington DC where she creates puppet theater for adults and teaches playwriting and creative drama to children. Her bilingual children’s plays have been produced by GALA Hispanic Theatre and her interests in bilingual education, literacy, and immigrant advocacy all tend to find their way into her theatrical work. You can find more of her work at www.witsendpuppets.com.

January & February 2018 Latinx Book Deals

 

Compiled by Cecilia Cackley

This is a monthly 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.

February 27

Joanna Cárdenas at Penguin’s new Kokila imprint has acquired world rights to Doodles from the Boogie Down, a middle grade graphic novel by debut author-illustrator Stephanie Rodriguez. The book, which is autobiographically inspired, follows a young Latina in the Bronx, who navigates friendships and a strict mother as she carves out a place for herself in the world as a budding artist. Publication is slated for spring 2020. Author agent: Linda Camacho at Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency.

February 22

Lynne Polvino at Clarion has signed John Parra to illustrate Miranda Paul‘s Little Libraries, Big Heroes, which tells the story of the Little Free Library organization from founder Todd Bol’s first installation to the creation of more than 50,000 mini-libraries around the world. Publication is scheduled for fall 2019; Karen Grencik at Red Fox Literary represented the author, and Adriana Domínguez and Stefanie Von Borstel at Full Circle Literary represented the illustrator in the deal for world rights.

February 15

Jordan Nielsen and Craig Cohen at Pow! Kids Books have bought world English rights to Cynthia Leonor Garza‘s (l.) Lucía the Luchadora and the Million Masks, the story of Lucía’s little sister Gemma, who wants to be a luchadora like her big sister, but seems to find trouble wherever she goes. Alyssa Bermudez will illustrate; publication is scheduled for fall 2018. Author agent: Marietta B. Zacker at Gallt and Zacker Literary Agency.

February 13

None.

February 6

None.

February 1

Mary Lee Donovan at Candlewick Press has bought world rights to Hayley Barrett‘s (l.) picture book Babymoon, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal. The book is a celebration of the special bonding time when a newborn first comes home. Publication is set for spring 2019. Illustrator agent: Stefanie Von Borstel of Full Circle Literary.

January 30

None.

January 25

None.

January 18

Ruta Rimas at S&S/McElderry has acquired world rights to Kristen Fulton‘s picture book, When Sparks Fly, an illustrated biography of rocket scientist Robert Goddard. Diego Funck will illustrate; publication is slated for spring 2018. Illustrator agent: Anne Moore Armstrong of Bright Agency.

 

Marisa Polansky at Scholastic has bought world rights to a chapter book series co-written by Monica Brown (l.) and Sarai Gonzalez, the 12-year-old star of the viral music video “Soy Yo,” who became the face behind the #SoyYo movement celebrating independent girls around the world. The first book in the fictional series based on the star’s life, Sarai and the Meaning of Awesome, features Sarai using her creativity and entrepreneurial skills to help her community and family. The first two books in the series are due in fall 2018. Author Agents: Stefanie Von Borstel of Full Circle Literary and Monica Villarreal and Rick Dorfman of Authentic Management.

January 11

Phoebe Yeh at Crown and Nicole de las Heras at Penguin Random House have acquired Jan Carr‘s (l.) Star of the Party, illustrated by Pura Belpré Award-winner Juana Medina. The picture book celebrates the Sun’s 4.6 billionth birthday with planetary quirks and nonfiction content. Publication is slated for fall 2019. Illustrator agent:  Gillian MacKenzie of the Gillian MacKenzie Agency.

January 9

None.

January 4

Hannah Allaman at Disney has bought Nina Moreno‘s debut YA contemporary novel, Saint Rosa of the Sea, pitched as Gilmore Girls meets Practical Magic, in a preempt. The women in Rosa’s family are cursed: her abuela is exiled from Cuba, her mother is reckless, and Rosa is forbidden to go to the sea. Rosa dreams of finally seeing their island, but her study abroad plans crumble amid political changes just as she crashes into a quiet boy from the docks. Publication is planned for summer 2019. Author Agent: Laura Crockett at Triada US Literary Agency.

 

Q&A With Illustrator Jacqueline Alcántara about her debut picture book, The Field

 

By Cecilia Cackley

Jacqueline Alcántara was featured in a previous round-up of Latina illustrators here on Latinxs in Kid Lit, and we got more information about her when we found out she was also the inaugural recipient of a mentorship from the We Need Diverse Books organization. Now, we’re catching up wit Alcántara since her first picture book, The Field, written by Baptiste Paul, was released last week by NorthSouth Books. Here is the official description of the book, which received a starred review from Kirkus, and the cover:

A soccer story–for boy and girls alike–just in time for the World Cup.

Vini Come The field calls, ” cries a girl as she and her younger brother rouse their community–family, friends, and the local fruit vendor–for a pickup soccer (fútbol) game. Boys and girls, young and old, players and spectators come running–bearing balls, shoes, goals, and a love of the sport.

“Friends versus friends” teams are formed, the field is cleared of cows, and the game begins. But will a tropical rainstorm threaten their plans?

The world’s most popular and inclusive sport has found its spirited, poetic, and authentic voice in Baptiste Paul’s debut picture book–highlighting the joys of the game along with its universal themes: teamwork, leadership, diversity, and acceptance. Creole words (as spoken in St. Lucia, the author’s birthplace island in the Caribbean) add to the story and are a strong reminder of the sport’s world fame. Bright and brilliant illustrations by debut children’s book illustrator Jacqueline Alcántara –winner of the We Need Diverse Books Illustration Mentorship Award–capture the grit and glory of the game and the beauty of the island setting where this particular field was inspired.

Soccer fan or not, the call of The Field is irresistible.

TheField_Cover_JacquelineAlcantara.jpg

Congratulations on your first picture book! Can you tell us a little bit about the media you used to create the illustrations? Is it one technique or were you mixing several different ones? 

Thank you so much! It’s quite exciting to finally be able to celebrate this book and years of hard work! And thank you very much for supporting me and The Field!

These illustrations are a combination of pencil, marker, gouache and Photoshop. Every day ,I understand more and more what it is I love about each medium – so instead of trying to make one “say it all,” I work mixed-media so I get the beautiful line-work of pencil, the speed and consistency of markers, the flat opaque color and beautiful texture of gouache, and the limitless possibilities of working in Photoshop! I also scan my work at multiple points along the way which allows me to push the illustration without fear of taking it too far into ruin.

There is so much amazing movement in this book. How did you decide when to use panels and when to use full page spreads? What was your research process like for the figures and movements of the players? 

I really love illustrating people and movement. I think that was a big reason I was so attracted to the project in the first place! To begin, I watched movies, fútbol games, documentaries, looked through photographs etc – and drew hundreds of figure sketches of kids and adults playing soccer, really trying to find the most dynamic and natural poses. It was so interesting to see how people’s styles, circumstances, settings, and techniques all changed country to country. The thing that didn’t change, was the look on people’s faces after the game – the looks of joy, friendship, exhaustion.

After I created my cast of characters, I went back through all my figure sketching and decided which movements or styles of kicking, running, and playing felt right for each character. Who was the confident player? Who was the more shy and awkward player, etc?

11_MomDribbling_WEB

Carlitos_Kicking

I felt the beginning of the book was a series of static moments. Connected, but individual moments that focused on the players. I felt this would be best portrayed in panels so we could focus on each moment. As the story progresses, we see ‘The Field’ itself becoming the main character. The Field unites the players, creates friendships, teaches lessons, makes memories! So it felt right to fall back and show the field in its entirety – making the place, the people, and the action more united.

The men’s World Cup is coming up soon. Are you a fútbol fan? If you are, which team will you be cheering for? 

I am! While I don’t love watching sports on TV, I LOVE  watching world events like the Olympics and the World Cup. My favorite team is Barça, so for the World Cup I’ll be rooting for Spain!

 

photo credit @eyeshotchaABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR (from her website): Jacqueline Alcántara is a freelance illustrator and spends her days drawing, painting, writing and walking her dog. She is fueled by electronic and jazz music, carbs and coffee. Jacqueline studied Art Education and taught high school art and photography before transitioning to illustration.

In combination with freelance illustration, Jacqueline has a wide range of work experience in other art and design related positions. She managed an art gallery and framing studio in Chicago, worked in the set decoration department on NBC’s “Chicago Fire”, and was the Member Relations Manager at Soho House Chicago where she cultivated a community of Chicago creatives in fashion, advertising, fine art and more. She has a never ending interest in learning new skills and taking on new challenges.

Her experience working with children has led her to focusing on children’s literature and specifically in pursuit of projects featuring a diverse main character. She won the 2016 “We Need Diverse Books Campaign” Mentorship Award and is excited to be working to promote inclusiveness and diversity in children’s literature and the illustration field.

We are sorry. We believe you. We support you.

 

We at Latinxs in Kid Lit would like to say to those who have recently described experiences of sexual harrassment and predatory sexual behavior in the children’s literature community: We are sorry. We believe you. We support you. We also extend our care and concern to the victims of sexual harassment and abuse who have chosen to remain silent.

We are now aware that, on this blog and through our social media accounts, we have highlighted the work of men accused of harassment. We are sorry if this added to anyone’s pain. We will remove these posts, and we will be attentive to updates on the accusations and fallout as this issue is tackled within the Kid Lit community.

We also encourage everyone to read articles (see links below) that shed light on the issue and to consider what each of us can do to change the climate that exists in universities, conferences, and publishing offices. We need to reclaim and safeguard the networks and encounters through which we do business and intervene in the dynamics that make predatory actions difficult to report and stop. Those wishing to take one step in this direction may wish to consider the pledge posted on Gwenda Bond’s site, which articulates a determination to make conferences safer for everyone.

Sexual Harassment in the Children’s Book Industry

Children’s Publishing Reckons with Sexual Harassment in its Ranks

#metoo #ustoo Change Starts Now: Stand Against Harassment in the YA/Kidlit Community

{“…after the watermelon thing.”}

Malinda Lo on how sexual harassment intersects with race/ethnicity and sexual orientation.

Spotlight on Middle Grade Authors Part 3: Anna Meriano

 

By Cindy L. Rodriguez

This is the third 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 debut author Anna Meriano, whose debut middle grade novel, Love, Sugar, Magic: A Dash of Trouble, released on Tuesday!

Anna Meriano

Image result for anna merianoQ. Who or what inspired you to become a writer?

A. My mom started reading to me pretty much as soon as I was born, and I was completely absorbed by stories. I was writing my own stories before I could really spell or remember which way the letters faced. The book that helped me realize that being an author was an actual career path, though, was The School Story by Andrew Clements. Honorable mention to my third grade teacher, Mrs. Carpentier, who did a whole unit on fiction writing.

 

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

A. Middle grade is so much fun because it’s an age where your readers/characters are still really figuring out the world as much as they are figuring out themselves. That lends itself well to fantasy, especially the kind of fantasy where characters discover magic hidden in the world around them. Having a brother eight years younger than me meant that my house stayed in little-kid mode while I was becoming a cranky teenager, and I think it’s good for older people to practice keeping that open, interested, hopeful mentality.

 

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

A. Some amazing books I’ve read recently are The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez, The Inquisitioner’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz, The Real Boy by Anne Ursu, and The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi. From my own middle grade days I loved Ella Enchanted, Holes, and the Dear America books.

 

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

A. Don’t let anyone make you feel small. Stop worrying so much about the future and just keep doing what you’re doing. Embrace the puffy hair, because it’s not going anywhere.

 

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

A. Middle grade novels are important because middle grade kids don’t always know how to talk to the adults in their life (I sure didn’t). But at the same time, they’re struggling with big questions and need help navigating new situations. Books can give safe ways for kids to explore relationships with friends and family, authority and society, and their own developing identity.

 

 

For more information, go to Walden Pond Books online, on Twitter, or on Facebook.

 

 

photo by Saryna A. JonesCindy 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, released with Bloomsbury Children’s Books (2015). She will have an essay in Life Inside My Mind, which releases 4/10/2018 with Simon Pulse. She can also be found on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.