Monday, January 28, 2008

San Pedro School

The children at San Pedro School spoke English—and Spanish!
In English and Spanish we looked at surprises
We read a book
We sang along with El Gran Miguel Martinez and his music, made especially for us
We cheered
We voted for hats
We did autographs
And they gave me this beautiful thank-you book

At the end some kids even asked for tattoos to be drawn in their hands. This niñas and niños are just not afraid of permanent markets!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A child again

I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Fuse #8, reviewing Miss Betsy Bird’s long awaited ALA Mid-Winter 2008 Recap, looking at the pictures, smiling at her abilities to Photoshop three huge medals onto the cover of Elijah of Buxton (by the way, Miss Betsy, the only planning that can happen when creating book covers is bad planning, because doing otherwise—planning for future placement of awards—is well known among the book publishing industry to conjure jinxing) when I found myself transported to my childhood.
I mean, doesn’t every child dream at least once, to someday be called (by an adult) something wonderful and enigmatic like “one of the most talented artists living today”? Wow! My childhood dream has become true!

2008 Notables!

And in their final-uncorrected-list, it is my beloved girl Little Night.

Flowers in a cobalt vase

From my Editor and Henry Holt.

They know my colors.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Distinguished books

My last post of December included the titles of a few books that had made my year. At the time I had not yet finished reading Elijah of Buxton, or else I would have mentioned that when I read Christopher Paul Curtis's writing, I arrive to a place where laughter and tears become good friends. Does that ever happen to you? With Elijah of Buxton it happened to me in the train. It was ok; strangers saw me cry and heard me laugh, but with a book in my hands I am fearless.

However, I did mention in my December post the title of Margarita Engle’s The Poet slave of Cuba. What I didn’t say was that from the moment I read it, I knew it would win the Pura Belpre Medal and more. Why? Because it is powerful! Have you read this book? Careful, because you might never forget it:

I fight duels with poets, famous ones who visit
there’s a poet who can wiggle his ears and
one who challenges me to finish his verses
after he leaves the words soaring
like birds in midair

You’ve won, they tell me,
Poeta-Esclavo, you’ve won
and it feels good,
how they turned the words
poet and slave
into a name, first name and the last name so that
when a man is my friend
he only uses the first part
calling me Poet
not Slave

Excerpt from The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano. By Margarita Engle. Art by Sean Qualls.

In addition here are other three books I have collected and admired, written or illustrated by Latinos and published in 2007, and worth plenty of attention:

N is for Navidad, by Susan Middleton Elya, Merry Banks, illustrated by Joe Cepeda

Nana's Big Surprise/Nana, ¡Qué Sorpresa! By Amada Irma Pérez, illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez

Yum! Mmmm! Que Rico!: America's Sproutings. By Pat Mora, illustrated by Rafael López

Having a "chamaco" correcting you

My son was reading my post from yesterday and was scolding me for writing about my emotions describing them as “emotional diarrhea.” Of course, he speaks impeccable English and feels entitled to correct me. But, can he correct what is like for me to feel? Oh, well, at least he tried.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A few hours have past now after the ALA awards have been announced, and I have spend half my day sending and responding emails while squealing by my desk.

A few things seem to happen when I get great news like winning an ALA award. For instance, I forget about everything else that I am supposed to be doing instead of squealing. This is the second time a Pura Belpre Medal is given to one of my books, and the first time I reported to have been so entranced in jumping and hugging my son and my husband that morning of 2004, that I practically forgot that my son was supposed to be at school already.

Today Son got to school in time; he is older, he can call his own shots. But once more, I forgot to make him his lunch (one of the few things I still do for him, part of my last kicks at trying to be a caring mother to a teenager). No big deal. He likes cafeteria food and by chance I had change in my pajama pocket.

Another effect of being slammed with great news is that I write with more typos and English grammatical mistakes than ever. That is when you know for sure that Yuyi speaks Spanish because her English is…well...still in process. The good news is that if you heard me speak in person that is exactly how I sound; in process. And that is truly me.

The other thing that is happening to me today is that the news start settling down and in their place come the feelings. I watched the Webcast award announcements, and more than anything else I was deeply touched by people’s reaction at hearing the names of each of the winners in the different categories. I am still carrying their cheering with me. Just thinking about it gives me emotional diarrhea. A couple of hour ago I finally got up my desk and I took my Luna Dog and Chacho Dog to run up the mountain. There was a little bit of sun shining through the fog, and the ground and the grass were still damp and soggy, but the three of us running up hill on the chill only intensified the explosion of this volcano of emotions that have been awaken in me by people’s reactions, their emails, and the sound of their squealing along me.

Thank you all for this celebration.

Sleepless Monday

This is how my sleeplessness happened: Gene Hatfield from the American Library Association called Sunday evening, but I was still riding the train back home from my friend’s baby shower. Son took the message. When Son takes a message you can expect him to forget it.
Ok, Son remembered when he saw me mopping the floor at 9:30 pm. Of course my ears perked. I am learning now not to ignore ALA telephone calls. Perhaps if I had realized it was already past midnight at the number I was calling back, I might have not returned the call until next day, for which I would have then missed the announcement that Los Gatos Black in Halloween had won the Pura Belpre Medal for illustration and a Pura Belpre honor for the writing!
Gene explained that usually I would have gotten the call on Monday morning, and the whole committee would be cheering in the intercom. But by the time I had returned the call the committee had already gone to bed. Gene also explained that they had decided to spare me a Monday pre-dawn telephone call by calling me on Sunday instead, since they were working on Philadelphia time and I am in California.
So, did the Pura Belpre committee yield me my sleep?
Of course not! I was bouncy and excited the rest of the evening and until late—I even ate a few chocolates and had a sip of wine with Husband and Son. And when I finally went to bed, I rolled on it endlessly savoring the news.
Monday 3:45 am, awake again to check on sleeping Son, to make sure the dogs are not stealing his blanket, to use the bathroom now that I am half awake, and then, of course to remember what a lovely day it is when the Pura Belpre committee takes your sleep by championing your work. Besides, I am awake just on time to watch the live webscast of the ALA Awards! Hold fast!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Mario the Luchador

My brother visited me from Mexico, and our best days we spent designing a t-shirt.

Here he in his Mexican wrestler mask—which I understand he wears all the time, even when he showers, like all good luchadores—and modeling our original design.

The other scrawny masked kid, I don’t know him, although he looks like my son. Hmmmm…

Friday, January 4, 2008

Looking at lists

I found with delight that fuse#8 has included Little Night in the selection of her favorite books of 2007.