Social Media and Writing Tips from the 2016 NY SCBWI Winter Conference


By Cindy L. Rodriguez

I joined thousands of others in New York City from February 12-14 for the Society of Children Book Writers & Illustrators annual winter conference, which is always an exhausting and exhilarating experience, with every minute of the day dedicated to sessions, meeting new people, and catching up with old friends.

As usual, I was on the look out for fellow Latin@s. On Friday, I had a fangirl moment when shared an elevator with David Díaz, the Caldecott Medal winning illustrator. I lost all composure and gushed, “Oh-Wow-You’re-David-Díaz-I’m-A-Huge-Fan.” He was very kind, and I managed to speak like a normal person after my initial outburst. I don’t know for sure if he was working with the illustrators, but he was not listed in the “Faculty Bios” handout. I will preface this by saying I do not know how each person on the faculty list identifies–so I may be wrong–but I did not recognize any as Latin@. On Sunday, Matt de la Peña joined the event to sign copies of Last Stop on Market Street, illustrated by Christian Robinson, and winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal winner, a Caldecott Honor Book, and a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book.

616833    Last Stop on Market Street

For those of you who couldn’t attend the conference, I first offer these wonderful quotes from author Rita Williams-Garcia, whose keynote speech, titled, “Tales from the Don’t Side,” was based on mistakes she has made on the road to publication. Although, I think we can all agree that the award-winning author has done a whole lot of things right.

“I loved story. Mom called it lying. Every story is a lie until you dig deep enough for the truth. Why tell the plain truth? Don’t do that. There was nothing I could not stretch into story.”

“Live in the plan. I took every step possible to become what I wanted.”

“Don’t pick your major based on the boy with the most perfect Afro. He is bald today.”

She talked about how she was asked to “de-blackify” her first novel, Blue Tights, about Jamaican girls with “big butts and no self-esteem.” She did not, although her manuscript went through serious revisions before it was published. “I had never seen so much carnage on the page,” she said of her editor’s red pen. The picture on the left is of her marked-up manuscript. The picture on the right is the cover of her published novel.


Other fabulous word to write by:

“Don’t isolate yourself. Find your community. Don’t fear doubt. Don’t not hear criticism.”

“Live in the DO! (not the don’t).”


The awesome Rita Williams-Garcia and me!


Now, I offer the following tips from two of the sessions I attended.

Martha Brockenbrough, author of The Game of Love and Death, gave sound advice about how to create and manage an online presence. Remember, one person’s tips, tactics, or advice never works for everyone, so consider the information below and decide what works for you.

Here are her five tips on how to build your social media platform:

  1. It’s not technology. It’s relationships. When online, remember that you are having conversations with real people: readers, librarians, teachers, booksellers, bloggers, and non-readers.
  2. Find your audience. How can you make the most of each platform? What’s natural for you? Short bits? Photos? Narrative? Curating?
  3. Keep it positive. Take cues from real-life manners. You will never regret kindness and compassion.
  4. Focus on the long term. You are not marketing a book on social media. You are building relationships with readers for the long term.
  5. Be authentic. Share what you love. Share what fills you with joy and wonder. Cheer on your friends.

And here are her five tips on how to keep it all manageable:

  1. Consider the group approach. Beat the ick of self promotion by going it together.
  2. Interact with your tribe. Readers are curious and love watching authors and illustrators interact in a fun and natural way. Like a panel, any time anywhere.
  3. Think in campaigns. #tothegirls and #ownvoices are good examples of hashtags used by authors that promoted important social issues and books, but were not simply “Hey, buy my book!” tweets.
  4. Be visual. A picture is worth 1,000 words and usually takes less time to produce.
  5. Discoverability is key. Remember to use hashtags and crosspost where it makes sense. Interact with others’ social media to spread your own.

Thanks for the social media tips, Martha!


Another session I attended was about middle grade fiction, led by Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary. She said now is a golden time for middle grade. I do hope there will be more titles by, for, and about Latin@s, as our middle grade book list is the shortest when compared to picture books and young adult novels.

Davies broke her talk down into eight points:

  1. Know what you’re writing and know the market. Chapter book series are for ages 7-9 and are generally 15,000-25,000 words, illustrated, and either character-led or concept-led. Core middle grade novels are for readers aged 8-12, with protagonists generally aged 10-13. They are longer, from 30,000-60,000 words and usually fall into one of three categories: action-adventure-fantasy stories, focused on an outer conflict, heartfelt-classic-charming stories that focus on an inner conflict/emotional journey, and tween books that are very commercial stories focused on first crushes and friendship.
  2. Know your reader. The interior world of a pre-teen is different than an older child’s. A middle grade child seeks an identity separate from family, as friends take priority. Don’t talk down to them. Don’t try to teach lessons.
  3. Voice. The voice of a middle grade child is so far from an adult voice. Work to be true/authentic. Evoke how it feels to be that age, but not with nostalgia.
  4. A story that does and says something original. Avoid the well-trodden plots and clichés. Your story must do and say something original that hasn’t been done before. How you tell it–your voice–will set it apart. Also, play with structural changes, look at stories through a new lens, and/or blend genres.
  5. A story that matters and packs an emotional punch. It has to matter. The stakes must be high. The essence of plot is a character yearning for something and being thwarted. If a character doesn’t really yearn, there’s no pay-off. Writers often aren’t tough enough on their characters. What do they stand to lose? The emotional punch/payoff must be there.
  6. Characters who stand out and dialogue that brings them to life. What is distinct about your protagonist? All good protagonists are in some ways outsiders. We need more diverse books and characters. It’s a no-brainer. Books should reflect the world as it is. Find ways to bring in elements that are diverse and culturally rich if you can do it convincingly. Know your character before you even write page 1. Put us in their head and heart, with authenticity, so their words match who they are.
  7. Give your reader surprises. Think multi-dimensionally, so every detail matters. Throw in unexpected detail, invention, or plot twists that serve your purposes. Use everything to reveal character.
  8. Leave your reader with something memorable. What is a great book? One you never forget because it illuminated your life–not didactic lessons, but an unforgettable journey.

Happy writing, everyone. Live in the DO!


photo by Saryna A. JonesCindy L. Rodriguez
 is a former journalist turned public school teacher and fiction writer. She was born in Chicago; her father is from Puerto Rico and her mother is from Brazil. She has degrees from UConn and CCSU and has worked as a reporter at The Hartford Courant and researcher at The Boston Globe. She and her daughter live in Connecticut, where she teaches middle school reading and college-level composition. Her debut contemporary YA novel, When Reason Breaks, released with Bloomsbury Children’s Books on 2/10/2015. She can also be found on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Winning the Newbery When Diversity Matters: Guest Post by Pat Enciso


Last Stop on Market Street is a stunning contribution to the legacy and future of book art and storytelling for children; no wonder, then, that it has won a Newbery Award, Caldecott Honor, and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor. With distinctive, poetic text by Matt de la Peña and evocative illustrations by Christian Robinson, Last Stop on Market Street reveals the creative potential of a powerful cross-cultural author-illustrator partnership. In words and pictures, it embraces substantive diversity in children’s literature, diversity that not only helps us see ourselves and one another, but that also asks that we make our world anew.

Here’s a synopsis, in case you haven’t had the good fortune to get your hands on the book. On a Sunday after church, CJ and his Nana begin their weekly journey across town on a public bus, eventually disembarking at the last stop on Market Street, where they walk down a broken-down street with broken-down buildings until they reach their destination: a soup kitchen. LASTSTOP_arrayAlong the way, they encounter an array of people, including the bus driver, a blind man, a woman holding a jar of butterflies, teens plugged in to their iPods, and a guitar player.

Sitting inside the bus, watching as others travel by car, bicycle, and skateboard, CJ questions the differences he notices between his own life and the lives of others. As she answers him, Nana demonstrates thoughtfulness and regard for variation in the natural world and in our flawed but beautiful human communities.

Last Stop on Market Street follows a familiar storyline about a child’s discoveries as he ventures beyond home. Traditionally, this storyline features adventures in inviting spaces where wonder and delight await young protagonists, riches at the ready. In Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson’s story, though, CJ and Nana do not journey through a readymade world; they make the world as they go along. For CJ, part of that making is reckoning with his own desire for belonging in a world marked by disparities.

Whereas many reviewers see Nana’s wisdom as what determines the book’s value, I want to focus on CJ’s questions. Specifically, I want to consider how these questions make Last Stop on Market Street deserving of the year’s most prestigious awards as well as how they might be reoriented for adults reviewers to enable more generative thinking about book evaluations when diversity matters.

Across the book, CJ asks his grandmother six questions:

  • “How come we gotta wait for the bus in all this wet?”
  • “Nana, how come we don’t got a car?”
  • “How come we always gotta go here after church?”
  • “How come that man can’t see?”
  • Implicitly asking for an iPod: “Sure wish I had one of those.”
  • “How come it’s always so dirty over here?”

On the face of it, CJ is asking for what kids (and adults) often desire: to be unconstrained and worry-free, to have easy access to pleasure and fun. Stories can create this kind of world for children; and many adults think this is what stories for young readers should do. Instead, Last Stop on Market Street honors the realities that exist beyond the readymade worlds of comfort and privilege. CJ doesn’t want to imagine himself far away from what he sees, but he does want to know why the world is as it is and where he belongs in it. Gaps in resources and opportunities are as present in CJ’s reality as the lowering and lifting of the bus making its stops. He is right to ask questions, and his Nana never undermines the legitimacy of his questions. Instead, she answers them by modeling attentiveness, wonder, and reverence for the lovely particularity of their human encounters on a rainy Sunday.

LASTSTOP_touch&encounter_detailRobinson’s illustrations show a distinctive entry point, midpoint and eventual endpoint for each of CJ and his Nana’s interactions. Eyes meet, hands touch, bodies tilt forward, lean over, straighten up, respond. The rhythm of people making room for one another and attending to one another animates every scene. Nana creates opportunities for CJ to notice, to attend thoughtfully to his world. Whereas CJ’s questions highlight important material differences between people, Nana directs his attention to the unique, often momentary, connections that are possible when we engage with others. Without undermining the reality of material disparities, these connections show that all people have the potential to draw beauty from ordinary experience. And they show that beauty is in the making, in the shared work of creating these connections, as when Nana, CJ, and the blind man all close their eyes to listen to the guitar player’s song.


Throughout the book, with his Nana’s guidance, CJ becomes immersed in making the world around him through actual and metaphorical interactions.

Usually, when considering how diversity is represented in children’s literature, reviewers ask some variation of the following two questions: How accurate are representations of language, culture, setting, and relationships? Are characters fully realized and shown to have agency? These questions highlight character strengths and authorial insight, but they miss the significant ways an author places characters in an unequal world, which is where all children live.

Last Stop on Market Street offers us some clues about the new questions we could be asking. In an effort to encourage reviewers to look beyond the standard concerns when reading and evaluating diverse representations in children’s literature, I have translated CJ’s questions into the following “adult” questions:

  • How is difference constructed, and what does it mean for a character’s belonging in an unequal world?
  • How is material wealth acknowledged or taken for granted in a story, especially at aLASTSTOP_RealReaders time of extreme poverty for fully a third of the children living in the U.S.?
  • How are characters’ lives and perspectives interrelated and interdependent? How are these interconnections shown in text and image?
  • How are perceptions of difference transformed, and by whom, and with what implications for future relations?
  • How are disparities in the funding and support of community infrastructures acknowledged? Are inequities seen to have a material effect on children’s opportunities to explore and become their fullest selves?

These questions beckon from beneath CJ’s apparently simple queries. Like Nana, Last Stop on Market Street underscores their relevance with equal parts gentleness and insistence. We should pay attention to the questions, let them take root in us. We should also pay attention to the worldmaking that unfolds in their wake, both in the book, as CJ and Nana partner in treasuring the particularity of each encounter, and in the future we are beginning to envision for children’s literature.

 Last Stop on Market Street is an award-winning book not only because the language is lyrical and the illustrations are alive with rhythm and warmth, but also because it is a groundbreaking story. It is a story where it matters that CJ is a Black child spending Sunday with his grandmother. It is a story where it matters still more that CJ and his Nana ask each other hard questions and make space for complex answers. It is a story where it matters that we, too, might learn to make our world as we go along.

Thank you, Matt, Christian, and the Newbery Committee for taking up the imaginative work of making the world of children’s literature what it can be. As for the rest of us who care about children and the worlds they grow up in, let’s heed Nana’s invitation at the end of Last Stop on Market Street: “Now, come on.” There are more worlds to make, more encounters to be had as we discover all the ways that diversity is fundamental to human experience.

So, friends? Come on. Our bus is here.



Version 2Patricia Enciso’s work centers on honoring and cultivating readers’ diverse experiences with literature. She is a professor of Literature for Children and Young Adults in the Department of Teaching and Learning at The Ohio State University, the president of the Literacy Research Association, and a member of the Tomás Rivera Book Award national committee. Among many other projects, she edited the  Handbook of Research on Children’s and Young Adult Literature and is currently working with Denise Dávila on a book called  Transformative Teaching with Diverse Books for Children.

Book Reviews: Celebrating Matt de la Peña

The release of The Hunted on Tuesday marked Matt de la Peña’s tenth published book, so we thought it was time to celebrate the prolific author, who has given us high-voltage stories with deep and believable Latino characters. Along with a handful of others, such as Margarita Engle and Julia Alvarez, Matt is a triple threat in the kid lit world, having authored picture books, middle grade, and young adult novels. His rich body of work is known for sharply crafted YA novels that have captured a Pura Belpré honor and other important awards. His picture book Last Stop on Market Street hit the NY Times Bestseller List. In addition, he has been a proponent of increased diversity in children’s literature and is on the advisory committee for We Need Diverse Books. For more information about Matt, visit his website. For an intro to his YA novels, here’s a Latin@s in Kid Lit round-up.


Who is that man at the ship rail and why does he utter such cryptic words to Shy Espinoza before jumping to his death? With this irresistible hook, Matt de la Peña launches a post-apocalyptic coming of age series that begins with The Living and continues with The Hunted, and bursts with all the tension, intrigue, romance and fast-paced action of a cinematic thriller.

Shy is a San Diego teenager. He takes a summer job on a cruise ship to help his single mom pay the bills. Shortly before he sets sail, his grandmother dies a painful death from Romero disease, a mysterious ailment sweeping towns along the California-Mexico border. One of Shy’s coworkers, a super-hot chica named Carmen, has lost a family member to the same disease. When a cataclysmic earthquake hits California, a series of giant tsunamis shatters the cruise ship and takes many passengers and crew members to their graves. Shy ends up on a lifeboat, with a slew of new challenges: circling sharks, rotting corpses and a snobby rich girl whose father owns Lasotech, a pharmaceutical firm with apparent connections to the man at the rail. When the lifeboat reaches an island, Shy allows himself a sigh of relief. But that’s an illusion. A new fight for life has begun.


When Shy and three other cruise-ship survivors finally reach the California coast, they discover a landscape of stunning devastation. (In order to preserve suspense for those who haven’t read The Living, I’ll refrain from naming all the survivors.) In the aftermath of the earthquake and the spread of Romero disease, social order in the quarantined West Coast states has broken down. Armed vigilantes and criminal gangs roam the streets and highways, killing anyone they suspect is infected. Shy and his friends set off on foot for Arizona. They’re on a mission to deliver precious vials of anti-Romero vaccination developed by Lasotech to health officials outside the quarantine zone. Judging by radio reports, Shy’s own family is unlikely to have survived the double whammy of disease and earthquake, but he must shake off such worries to defeat more immediate concerns, namely, bounty hunters on motorcycles roving the desert for a teenager named Shy Espinoza.

BALL DON’T LIEball-dont-lie

Matt de la Peña nails the basketball scene and the gritty world of foster homes in this guy-friendly book packed with action, tension, and emotion. Multiple story lines come together in a dramatic ending that is not at all forced. I love how the author takes on numerous issues–pinning hopes on athletics, interracial relationships, obsessive compulsive disorder, prostitution–without making this an “issue” book. Because at bottom, what it’s really about is Sticky, a ball-playing foster kid who wants to treat his girl right and can’t keep himself out of trouble.





From the author of Ball Don’t Lie comes another excellent book that nails baseball but is about much more.

Danny is wicked gifted when it comes to baseball–he can knocks baseballs out of the park, and his pitching maxes out the meter at the local fair even when he was smashed. But he couldn’t throw anything but wild pitches at the tryouts at his prep school, and not even he can understand why.

His number one theory, though, is that things would be different if his dad were still around. Not just baseball, either. If his dad hadn’t left, then maybe Danny wouldn’t be stuck feeling stupid when his relatives in National City tell jokes in Spanish. (Danny’s mom, who’s white, can’t help him out in that department.) The official word is that Danny’s dad took off to Ensenada, Mexico, but it starts looking like there’s more to the story than that as Danny spends the summer with his dad’s family in National City, a mostly Latino pocket of greater San Diego.

But the eventual revelation regarding Danny’s dad is much less important than Danny figuring out how to be himself, a task made a little easier with the jokey, easy-going crew his cousin Sofia hangs with. Danny’s best friend turns out to be Uno, the same half-black, half-Mexican kid who welcomed Danny to the neighborhood by busting his face at the beginning of the summer. Things are good–but they’re also ugly, the way things are in real life. What matters is that Danny starts finding his footing in that real life, and baseball takes its place as one bad-ass game that helps him bring things into focus without beating up on himself.

I will save youI WILL SAVE YOU

Kidd Ellison has done a terrible thing and look where it’s landed him–in solitary confinement. The trouble started with Devon, a bad-news friend from the group home where Kidd got sent after his mother died. Kidd is part Mexican and comes from the wrong side of the tracks, and Devon, who’s cut from the same background, easily exploits Kidd’s desire to fit in socially. Against his better judgment, Kidd jumps into a shoplifting spree and other ill-advised activities, but Devon is capable of far worse. Why can’t Kidd see the light and shake him off?

Luckily, certain people in Kidd’s life exert the opposite pull, like María, his former counselor at the group home, and Mr. Red, an aging surfer dude with a generous streak, who gives him a job at a beach camp. Then there’s Olivia, a pretty girl living with her own set of scars, who offers Kidd real friendship and just maybe romantic interest.

The books that Olivia reads challenge Kidd’s assumptions about fate, inevitability and self-determination. De la Peña ingeniously uses Kidd’s entries in a “philosophy of life” notebook and his reactions to the literature Olivia introduces as opportunities to plumb Kidd’s backstory and deeper self. This is how we learn that no matter how troubled he may be, Kidd truly wants to figure things out. A short story by Haruki Murakami and the memoir The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, by Jean-Dominique Bauby, help him frame some of life’s biggest questions. He writes in his notebook: “Were people who they were ‘cause of their genes, or was it more to do with where they were born, and who their parents were, and what they saw growing up.” These are the questions of an honest seeker. Of course, Devon is chillingly skilled at throwing Kidd off the seeker path. Kidd, please get away from Devon, before it’s too late!


After a tragic incident, 16-year-old Miguel Castaneda is sent to a group home for a year. Soon after he arrives, he escapes with Mong and Rondell, and they all head to the Mexican border with the hope of forgetting the past and starting over. Memories and guilt, however, are not easy to shake. Miguel can’t forget what happened no matter how much distance he puts between himself and home. Although temporarily free from juvi, hes not free from punishment. The physical and personal journey force Miguel to process what happened and come to a place of acceptance. Mong and Rondell are battling their own demons, too, as the three make their way to the border. De la Peña’s characters are complex and force us to consider the softer sides of tough boys who have been through a lot and committed crimes. Through them, we consider the a person layers and their potential for healing and change beyond the moments that are documented on records and land them in trouble.

Here are the covers for Matt de la Peña’s other books:










More Libros Latin@s: 24 YA & MG Novels By/About Latinos in 2015!

Just when you thought your To-Be-Read list couldn’t get any longer, here we have 24 young adult and middle grade novels to be released in 2015 that are all by and/or about Latin@s. While they all share this aspect, you’ll see the novels are diverse, representing these genres: horror, fantasy, contemporary, science-fiction, memoir, magical realism, romance, and historical. Authors include award winners Margarita Engle, Pam Muñoz Ryan, and Matt de la Peña, as well as NY Times Bestselling authors Kierra Cass and Anna Banks. Alongside these authors are many debuts, which are *starred* in the list below. If you click on the cover image, you will go to the book’s Goodreads page, so you can easily add them to your TBR list! And if you’re adding them, you are likely interested in diverse kid lit and should, therefore, consider participating in the We Need Diverse Books reading challenge. Happy reading!!

*SHUTTER by Courtney Alameda

20757532Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat—a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. As one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage, she has trained since childhood to destroy monsters both corporeal and spiritual: the corporeal undead go down by the bullet, the spiritual undead by the lens. With an analog SLR camera as her best weapon, Micheline exorcises ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film. She’s aided by her crew: Oliver, a techno-whiz and the boy who developed her camera’s technology; Jude, who can predict death; and Ryder, the boy Micheline has known and loved forever.

When a routine ghost hunt goes awry, Micheline and the boys are infected with a curse known as a soulchain. As the ghostly chains spread through their bodies, Micheline learns that if she doesn’t exorcise her entity in seven days or less, she and her friends will die. Now pursued as a renegade agent by her monster-hunting father, Leonard Helsing, she must track and destroy an entity more powerful than anything she’s faced before . . . or die trying.

JOYRIDE by Anna Banks

22718685A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads—with the law and with each other—in this sparkling standalone from NYT-bestselling author Anna Banks.

It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.

Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber’s mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.

All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.

24527773THE SMOKING MIRROR by David Bowles

Carol and Johnny Garza are 12-year-old twins whose lives in a small Texas town are forever changed by their mother’s unexplained disappearance. Shipped off to relatives in Mexico by their grieving father, the twins soon learn that their mother is a nagual, a shapeshifter, and that they have inherited her powers. In order to rescue her, they will have to descend into the Aztec underworld and face the dangers that await them.

HOSTAGE by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith

23899848Welcome back to Las Anclas, a frontier town in the post-apocalyptic Wild West. In Las Anclas, the skull-faced sheriff possesses superhuman strength, the doctor can speed up time, and the squirrels can teleport sandwiches out of your hands.

In book one, Stranger, teenage prospector Ross Juarez stumbled into town half-dead, bringing with him a precious artifact, a power no one has ever had before, and a whole lot of trouble— including an invasion by Voske, the king of Gold Point. The town defeated Voske’s army, with the deciding blow struck by Ross, but at a great cost.

In Hostage, a team sent by King Voske captures Ross and takes him to Gold Point. There he meets Kerry, Voske’s teenage daughter, who has been trained to be as ruthless as her father. While his friends in Las Anclas desperately try to rescue him, Ross is forced to engage in a battle of wills with the king himself.

22918050THE HEIR by Kierra Cass

Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won Prince Maxon’s heart. Now the time has come for Princess Eadlyn to hold a Selection of her own. Eadlyn doesn’t expect her Selection to be anything like her parents’ fairy-tale love story. But as the competition begins, she may discover that finding her own happily ever after isn’t as impossible as she always thought.

THE HUNTED by Matt de la Peña

21529626When the Big One hit, Shy was at sea in style. The Paradise Cruise luxury liner he worked on was a hulking specimen of the best money could buy. And now it’s at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, along with almost all of its passengers.

Shy wasn’t the only one to survive, though. Addie, the rich blond daughter of a mysterious businessman, was on the dinghy he pulled himself into. But as soon as they found the rest of the survivors, she disappeared.

The only thing that filled the strange void of losing her was finding Carmen, his hot coworker, and discovering a way to get back home. But Shy’s luck hasn’t turned. Not yet.

Back on the dinghy, Addie told him a secret. It’s a secret that people would kill for-have killed for-and she has the piece that could turn everything on its ear. The problem? Shy has no idea where Addie is. Back home in California seems logical, but there are more ways to die back home then Shy could ever have guessed.

And thanks to what Shy now knows, he’s a moving target.

18625184REBELLION by Stephanie Diaz

It’s been seven days since Clementine and Logan, along with their allies, retreated into hiding on the Surface. The rebels may have won one battle against Commander Charlie, but the fight is far from finished. He has vowed to find a way to win—no matter the cost. Do the rebels have what it takes to defeat him…and put an end to this war?

As Clementine and Logan enter a desperate race against time to defeat Commander Charlie—and attempt to weaken his power within his own ranks—they find themselves in a terrifying endgame that pits them against a brutal enemy, and each other. With every step, Clementine draws closer to losing Logan…and losing control of herself.

ENCHANTED AIR by Margarita Engle

23309551In this poetic memoir, Margarita Engle, the first Latina woman to receive a Newbery Honor, tells of growing up as a child of two cultures during the Cold War.

Margarita is a girl from two worlds. Her heart lies in Cuba, her mother’s tropical island country, a place so lush with vibrant life that it seems like a fairy tale kingdom. But most of the time she lives in Los Angeles, lonely in the noisy city and dreaming of the summers when she can take a plane through the enchanted air to her beloved island. Words and images are her constant companions, friendly and comforting when the children at school are not.

Then a revolution breaks out in Cuba. Margarita fears for her far-away family. When the hostility between Cuba and the United States erupts at the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Margarita’s worlds collide in the worst way possible. How can the two countries she loves hate each other so much? And will she ever get to visit her beautiful island again?



Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

22504701ROLLER GIRL by Victoria Jamieson

For most of her twelve years, Astrid has done everything with her best friend Nicole. But after Astrid falls in love with roller derby and signs up for derby camp, Nicole decides to go to dance camp instead. And so begins the most difficult summer of Astrid’s life as she struggles to keep up with the older girls at camp, hang on to the friend she feels slipping away, and cautiously embark on a new friendship. As the end of summer nears and her first roller derby bout (and junior high!) draws closer, Astrid realizes that maybe she is strong enough to handle the bout, a lost friendship, and middle school… in short, strong enough to be a roller girl.



Twelve-year-old Sophie Brown feels like a fish out of water when she and her parents move from Los Angeles to the farm they’ve inherited from a great-uncle. But farm life gets more interesting when a cranky chicken appears and Sophie discovers the hen can move objects with the power of her little chicken brain: jam jars, the latch to her henhouse, the entire henhouse…

And then more of her great-uncle’s unusual chickens come home to roost. Determined, resourceful Sophie learns to care for her flock, earning money for chicken feed, collecting eggs. But when a respected local farmer tries to steal them, Sophie must find a way to keep them (and their superpowers) safe.

Told in letters to Sophie’s abuela, quizzes, a chicken-care correspondence course, to-do lists, and more, Unusual Chickens is a quirky, clucky classic in the making.

SURVIVING SANTIAGO by Lyn Miller-Lachman

23013839To sixteen-year-old Tina Aguilar, love is the all and the everything.

As such, Tina is less than thrilled to return to her homeland of Santiago, Chile, for the first time in eight years to visit her father, the man who betrayed her and her mother’s love through his political obsession and alcoholism. Tina is not surprised to find Papá physically crippled from his time as a political prisoner, but she is disappointed and confused by his constant avoidance of her company. So when Frankie, a mysterious, crush-worthy boy, quickly shows interest in her, Tina does not hesitate to embrace his affection.

However, Frankie’s reason for being in Tina’s neighborhood is far from incidental or innocent, and the web of deception surrounding Tina begins to spin out of control. Tina’s heart is already in turmoil, but adding her and her family’s survival into the mix brings her to the edge of truth and discovery.

Fans of Gringolandia will recognize the Aguilar family as they continue their story of survival and redemption.

ECHO by Pam Muñoz Ryan

22749539Music, magic, and a real-life miracle meld in this genre-defying masterpiece from storytelling maestro Pam Muñoz Ryan.

Lost and alone a forbidden forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica.

Decades later, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each, in turn, become interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives. All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. And ultimately, pulled by the invisible thread of destiny, their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo.

SHADOWSHAPER by Daniel José Older

22295304Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra’s near-comatose abuelo begins to say “No importa” over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep…. Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on

Sierra soon discovers a supernatural order called the Shadowshapers, who connect with spirits via paintings, music, and stories. Her grandfather once shared the order’s secrets with an anthropologist, Dr. Jonathan Wick, who turned the Caribbean magic to his own foul ends. Now Wick wants to become the ultimate Shadowshaper by killing all the others, one by one. With the help of her friends and the hot graffiti artist Robbie, Sierra must dodge Wick’s supernatural creations, harness her own Shadowshaping abilities, and save her family’s past, present, and future.

*WHEN REASON BREAKS by Cindy L. Rodriguez

22032788A Goth girl with an attitude problem, Elizabeth Davis must learn to control her anger before it destroys her. Emily Delgado appears to be a smart, sweet girl, with a normal life, but as depression clutches at her, she struggles to feel normal. Both girls are in Ms. Diaz’s English class, where they connect to the words of Emily Dickinson. Both are hovering on the edge of an emotional precipice. One of them will attempt suicide. And with Dickinson’s poetry as their guide, both girls must conquer their personal demons to ever be happy.

In an emotionally taut novel with a richly diverse cast of characters, readers will relish in the poetry of Emily Dickinson and be completely swept up in the turmoil of two girls grappling with demons beyond their control.

*MORE HAPPY THAN NOT by Adam Silvera

19542841The Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-relief procedure seems too good to be true to Aaron Soto — miracle cure-alls don’t tend to pop up in the Bronx projects. But Aaron can’t forget how he’s grown up poor or how his friends aren’t always there for him. Like after his father committed suicide in their one bedroom apartment. Aaron has the support of his patient girlfriend, if not necessarily his distant brother and overworked mother, but it’s not enough.

Then Thomas shows up. He has a sweet movie-watching setup on his roof, and he doesn’t mind Aaron’s obsession with a popular fantasy series. There are nicknames, inside jokes. Most importantly, Thomas doesn’t mind talking about Aaron’s past. But Aaron’s newfound happiness isn’t welcome on his block. Since he’s can’t stay away from Thomas or suddenly stop being gay, Aaron must turn to Leteo to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he is.


23202520From the moment she first learned the truth about witches…she knew she was born to fight them.

Now, at sixteen, Iris is the lone girl on the Witch Hunters Special Ops Team.

But when Iris meets a boy named Arlo, he might just be the key to preventing an evil uprising in Southern California.

Together they’re ready to protect the human race at all costs. Because that’s what witch hunters do.

Welcome to Hollywood.

HUNTERS OF CHAOS by Crystal Velasquez

23309533Ana’s average, suburban life is turned upside down when she’s offered a place at the exclusive boarding school in New Mexico that both of her late parents attended. As she struggles to navigate the wealthy cliques of her new school, mysterious things begin to occur: sudden power failures, terrible storms, and even an earthquake!

Ana soon learns that she and three other girls with Chinese, Navajo, and Egyptian heritages harbor connections to priceless objects in the school’s museum, and the museum’s curator, Ms.Benitez, is adamant that the girls understand their ancestry.

It turns out that the school sits on top of a mysterious temple, the ancient meeting place of the dangerous Brotherhood of Chaos. And when one of the priceless museum objects is shattered, the girls find out exactly why their heritage is so important: they have the power to turn into wild cats! Now in their powerful forms of jaguar, tiger, puma, and lion they must work together to fight the chaos spirits unleashed in the ensuing battle and uncover the terrifying plans of those who would reconvene the Brotherhood of Chaos.

These titles do not yet have final covers, but we have provided as much information as we could find. Some of them are already listed on Goodreads.

OUT OF DARKNESS by Ashley Hope Pérez. This title is not yet listed on Goodreads, but Ashley wrote a post for us about the historical event at the heart of this story.

Zoraida Córdova’s LABYRINTH LOST in which a teen girl in family of powerful Brujas, accidentally banishes them in a bid to avoid her own magical destiny, then ventures into the otherworldly land of Los Lagos to save them, with the mysterious but alluring Nova as her guide, who seems to have an agenda all his own.

MOVING TARGET by Christina Diaz Gonzalez. It’s a middle-grade novel pitched as “Percy Jackson meets The Da Vinci Code.” In the story, a 12-year-old girl studying in Rome discovers she is a member of an ancient bloodline enabling her to use a legendary object that can alter the future.

THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS by Anna-Marie McLemore, in which two teenagers from rival families of traveling performers fall in love despite impossible odds.

NEVER, ALWAYS, SOMETIMES by Adi Alsaid, described on GoodReads as “two best friends, a boy and girl, make a list of the cliché things they will never do their senior year.”

NAKED by Stacey Trombley: When tough teenager Anna ran away to New York, she never knew how bad things would get. After surviving as a prostitute, a terrifying incident leaves her damaged inside and out, and she returns home to the parents she was sure wouldn’t want her anymore.

Now she has a chance to be normal again. Back in school, she meets a boy who seems too good to be true. Cute, kind, trusting. But what will he do when he finds out the truth about her past? And when a dark figure from New York comes looking for Anna, she realizes she must face her secrets…before they destroy her.

If we’re missing any, please let us know in the comments!

Which ones are you planning to read?

Congratulations to ALA Youth Media Award Winners and Honor Books

The annual award announcements from the American Library Association at its midwinter meeting is like the Golden Globes-Oscars-Grammys for the kid lit world. This year, we were especially thrilled to see the number of books by and/or for Latin@s on the lists.

Congratulations to all the winners! You can find the full list here. We’re sending out an extra abrazo to the following authors and illustrators:

Pura Belpré (Illustrator) Award honoring a Latino illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience: “Niño Wrestles the World,” written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales.

Three Belpré Illustrator Honor Books were selected: “Maria Had a Little Llama / María Tenía una Llamita,” illustrated and written by Angela Dominguez; “Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale,” illustrated and written by Duncan Tonatiuh; and “Tito Puente: Mambo King / Rey del Mambo,” illustrated by Rafael López, written by Monica Brown.


Pura Belpré (Author) Award honoring a Latino writer whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience: “Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass,” written by Meg Medina.

Three Belpré Author Honor Books were named: “The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist,” written by Margarita Engle; “The Living,” written by Matt de la Peña; and “Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale,” written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh.


Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children: “Parrots over Puerto Rico,” written by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore, and illustrated by Susan L. Roth.

Stonewall Book Award – Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award given annually to English-language works of exceptional merit for children or teens relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience: “Fat Angie,” written by e. E. Charlton-Trujillo.

William C. Morris Award for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens: “Charm & Strange,” written by Stephanie Kuehn.