I am excited to share with you the cover and a sneak peek of my upcoming middle-grade novel, Miosotis Flores Never Forgets, which will be published on October 5, 2021 from the Tu Books imprint of Lee & Low Books.
First, here is a brief description of the book:
Miosotis Flores is excited about three things: fostering rescue dogs, goofy horror movies, and her sister Amarilis’s upcoming wedding. School? Not on that list. But her papi cares about school more than anything else, so they strike a deal: If Miosotis improves her grades in two classes, she can adopt a dog of her own in the summer.
Miosotis dives into her schoolwork, and into nurturing a fearful little pup called Freckles. Could he become her forever dog? At the same time, she notices Amarilis behaving strangely—wearing thick clothing in springtime, dropping her friends in favor of her fiancé, even avoiding Miosotis and the rest of their family. When she finally discovers her sister’s secret, Miosotis faces some difficult choices. What do you do if someone is in danger, but doesn’t want your help? When should you ask for support, and when should you try to handle things on your own? And what ultimately matters most—what Miosotis wants, or what’s right for the ones she loves?
Perfect for fans of Meg Medina and Barbara O’Connor, this heartfelt novel about family, dogs, and other things we hold close is one that you’ll never forget.
I grew up in an apartment building that didn’t allow pets, with parents who valued academic achievement above everything else. When I created Miosotis and her story, I used some elements of my own childhood experiences, like the longing for a dog and the overprotective Dominican family. Miosotis is the baby of her family. She’s used to her big sister looking out for her. When she learns that Amarilis needs looking after as well, she wonders if she can step up in the same way that she has stepped up to take care of the dogs that need her. Cover illustrator Lissy Marlin did a great job showing Miosotis as I imagined her: pensive and a bit tentative, but with an obvious inner strength and optimism. I’m so thrilled to share that cover with you now . . .
And here is an exclusive excerpt:
VANESSA L. TORRES: Hi Laekan! First let me say, Happy Book Birthday to you for SOMEWHERE BETWEEN BITTER AND SWEET. How exciting! And thank you for taking the time to talk with me about this wonderful young adult debut. Let’s jump right in!
Without giving away too much, I have to know what your experience is with food. Specifically, cooking and baking. This book was filled with so many colorful food scenes. I could actually taste and smell the ?????
Laekan Zea Kemp: Expert eater, always have been! It’s how I celebrate. It’s how I find comfort. Food is such a powerful vehicle for emotions and I love that what we put on our plates can tell such a powerful story about who we are and where we come from.
VLT: Having worked years in the food industry myself, I am aware the restaurant world is a culture in its own right. And you really captured what it’s like to be part of that. Are there any characters in the book who were inspired by the people in your real world?
LZK: The setting of the restaurant is the thing I conceptualized first and it was inspired by the hilarious stories my partner would tell me about his many years working in a restaurant. So not only are there some secondary characters in the book who are based on real people but some of the shenanigans the restaurant employees get up to are also based on true events.
VLT: Family is a big part of BITTER AND SWEET. I was so touched by Pen and Xander’s quest to find their footing as new adults and where they fit in. They both came from such different places, but really, were searching for the same sense of belonging. My question is, do you think family will always play a part in your books?
Anika Aldamuy Denise: NoNieqa! You know how hyped I am about YOUR MAMA. I’m so happy it’s out in the world today and excited to talk to you about it!
NoNieqa Ramos: Anika! Faced-out in our family children’s library are the English and Spanish translations of A GIRL NAMED ROSITA THE STORY OF RITA MORENO: ACTOR, SINGER, DANCER, TRAILBLAZER! interspersed with Pura Belpré Honor Book PLANTING STORIES: THE LIFE OF LIBRARIAN AND STORYTELLER STPURA BELPRÉ.
Your masterful work is one key way I transmit Latinx history to my children and recover it for myself. Much love to MONSTER TRUCKS because it’s so clever and funny--and because you widen the lane--giving Latinx writers permission to write humor--and anything else they want. Because you do it like a Boss.
Here is my beautiful final yellow cover by the amazing illustrator Geraldine Rodriguez!
Well, many of you might say, "We have seen this cover already!" I have to confess; as a proud mama, I couldn’t hold on to my cover reveal when it was time. I had the chance to participate in a NerdCamp last July, and that’s when I showed off Bella’s cover to everyone. Isn’t she super CUUUUTE!?
But there is a slight change from the new cover and the previous one. Comment below if you can find it!
I'll also take this opportunity to let you know that Bella’s book has received impressive endorsements from three FABULOSOS authors!
Children and adults alike will enjoy this multi-generational tale of a girl for whom achievement does not come easily. Little ones will laugh at her funny comparisons and identify with her failed attempts. They surely will be inspired to, like Bella, never give up and ultimately enjoy the sweet taste of success! A fun recipe is a plus! - Lynne Marie, Author of Let's Eat! Mealtime Around the World, The Star in the Christmas Play, and others.
"BELLA'S RECIPE FOR SUCCESS is a story about perseverance, persistence, and a special relationship. The heartwarming tale will remind readers that each of us is unique and special with one-of-a-kind abilities." - Rob Sanders, teacher and author of many award-winning books, including Ruby Rose, Ball & Ballon, and Mayor Pete
"With a sprinkle of love and a dash of Abuela’s encouragement, Bella’s Recipe for Success is a warm reminder that we each have our own unique gifts, and not everyone is fabulosa on the first try. Young readers will find much to savor (including a recipe!) in Ana Siqueira’s delicioso debut." -- Anika Aldamuy Denise, author of ten picture books, including the Pura Belpré author Honor-winning Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré and A Girl Named Rosita: The Story of Rita Moreno: Actor, Singer, Dancer, Trailblazer!
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