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!
When I started kindergarten in the fall of 1984 in Queens, New York, I walked into the brick building knowing, perhaps, only a handful of English words. Until that moment, my world had been colored strictly with Spanish. It’s what we spoke at home, between ourselves and with our extended family and friends. I don’t have too many memories of this time, but one sticks out like a blazing sun. My teacher had instructed everyone to prepare for recess, only I had misunderstood her. While everyone filed in a line, I slipped toward the back to get my book bag and lunch box. Then I realized everyone had left. I remember weeping in the hallway because I felt lost and forgotten. Thankfully, a kind teacher found me and reunited me with my class.
The emotional impact of that moment has stuck with me throughout the years, and it’s what inspired Isabel and Her Colores Go to School, which is beautifully illustrated by Courtney Dawson and which releases this July 15, 2021 from Sleeping Bear Press as an English and Spanish edition.
About the book: English, with its blustery blues and whites, just feels wrong to Isabel. She prefers the warm oranges and pinks of Spanish. As she prepares for class at a new school, she knows she's going to have to learn--and she would rather not! Her first day is uncomfortable, until she discovers there's more than one way to communicate with friends. This is a universal story about feeling new and making new friends.
Without further ado…I’m so thrilled to share the gorgeous cover for Isabel and Her Colores Go to School here on Las Musas!
Writing is a Quixotic endeavor.
And I don’t say that because I just wrote a book in which the main character acts like the beloved knight. Writing is indeed a Quixotic endeavor. As writers, we are always in the quest for the impossible dream.
If you get to know Don Quijote up close and personal—really, it’s not such a far-fetched idea, it’s considered the first modern novel—the parallels to the writing life are striking. The book was written by Spanish writer Miguel De Cervantes and was released in two parts, one in 1605 and one in 1612. So long ago, but so many parallels.
Don Quijote is a nobleman who reads, reads, reads. His reading inspires him and teaches him to become a knight. Reading, reading, reading, is part and parcel of the writer’s life. We read to be inspired. To be lifted. To learn how to joust with words and tame them to do our bidding. And many thought Don Quijote lost his mind . . . how many times do we doubt our sanity? Over and over again. Putting ourselves out there knowing that we will work hard and be disappointed time and again . . . Yep. Lots of doubts.
First off, what did you feel like when you first read the manuscript? Did you immediately know this was a book that you wanted to illustrate?
Oh yeah! One of my wishlist items for a book is having a strong girl as the main character so AMBITIOUS GIRL checked that box immediately. The “you can never be too ambitious” message also spoke to me on a really personal level as well, so this project was a no-brainer to work on.
Authors and illustrators then to work separately on picture books, but because this book was written by an author who was more in the spotlight, did you have more communication with her while working on the book?
I get asked this question a lot!
“Adobada. Mole verde. Guiso de flor.”
I hear him through the crack in the back door of the restaurant, my forehead pressed to the cold metal as I count my breaths, the beats in between. Go inside. The restaurant is descending into chaos. You don’t have time to fall apart.
But the voice in my head isn’t alone. There’s another voice, biting and cold and cruel.
You’re a mess, Pen. You’re just going to make a mess.
We've been celebrating Crystal Maldonado's debut YA novel, FAT CHANCE CHARLIE VEGA all week long. Today, we're extra thrilled to share Crystal's letter to her readers. Scroll on to read!
When I was a little girl, I dreamt of books. Very specifically, I dreamt of writing the kind of book I needed when I was a teenager: a book that might take a reader’s hand and tell them that they’re not alone; a book for those who often felt overlooked; a book that explicitly featured a fat, Puerto Rican girl at its heart. There are few greater feelings than finding a book that feels like it was made just for you, and now, I am excited and humbled to give you FAT CHANCE, CHARLIE VEGA.
The story is full of so many things that are meaningful to me. It celebrates books, best friends, found family, fat fashion, writing, Beyoncé, self acceptance, cute boys, first kisses, first loves, and happily-ever-afters. It is an ultimate celebration of fat girls — fat brown girls especially.
Beyond that, this book is for anyone who has ever grappled with feeling insecure, for fat readers who never feel like they get have joyful and full stories, for brown kids who deserve to have their stories told, for all who have ever embarked on a journey of self-love, for those who would do anything for their best friend, for people with imperfect families, for anyone who yearns for love, for all who are still learning to be kind to themselves, for those who dream.
I hope readers everywhere can see a part of themselves in Charlie. I hope this story finds all who may need it. And I hope that you pick up this book and it feels like I wrote it just for you — because I did.
Crystal Maldonado is a young adult author with a lot of feelings. Her debut novel, FAT CHANCE, CHARLIE VEGA (Holiday House), was released on Feb. 2, 2021. By day, she is a social media manager working in higher ed, and by night, a writer who loves Beyoncé, shopping, spending too much time on her phone, and being extra. She lives in western Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and dog. Follow her everywhere @crystalwrote or visit her website at crystalwrote.com.
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