Thursday, July 31, 2008

Nochecita II

more about "Nochecita II", posted with vodpod

This morning I am in my way to the SCBWI summer conference in LA, to receive the Golden Kite medal for the illustrations of Little Night, Nochecita in Spanish.

But I have started my celebration already admiring this video from Teacher Tube of Madres sitting with their children and reading Nochecita to them.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Red Carpet of ALA

The Newberry/Caldecott ceremony has nothing to ask the academy awards or any others. For instance, the speeches this year were the top of the cream—or like we say in Spanish la crema y natanata which we eat it with bread or bananas.

If I ever had to choose among any red carpet, I would always go with the $3.99 red bathmat of the interviews at Caldecott/Newberry. Check it out:

To see more go to On the Red Carpet at Ala with Jim Averbeck and Maria van Lieshout, with guess interviewer Betsy Bird.

My moment at the red bathmat is there too in an individual video segment, but my favorite is audiomalfunctioned Mo Willem’s.

Monday, July 7, 2008

More ALA Views: Pura Belpre Award Ceremony

First a definition/description:
"The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth." --from ALA website

And now my report.
At my signings, during the days before the award ceremony last week, I handed out a lot these printed invitations:
Then on Sunday afternoon I combed my hair (which I rarely do otherwise), "ironed my best tie, and pumped the tires of my bike," and the celebration began!

Here is…

...what I saw at the Pura Belpre:
-The California Pavilion in all colors with mexican sarapes adorning the tables and balloons crowning the stage.

-Gorgeous Irania all the way from North Carolina libraries, the Fresno gang, the San Francisco public library—present, Jackie Woodson and her baby, the Harcourt family, my agent Ms. Sheedy, Maria van Lieshout and Jim Averbeck representing my writer’s group, Lisa Brown, the South Carolina gang, my father and mother in law, my editor Reka Simonsen and the Holt group, Suzy from Nevada, Rene Colato and his stories, Visalia—present, the Pura Belpre committee, Fuse#8, my husband, my son and his guitar…I don’t have enough air to name everybody who was in the audience and all of those who helped put this fiesta together.

Here some images from

…what I heard at the Pura Belpre:
-Suni Paz opening the celebration with her guitar, and her songs old and sweet like the ones my mother always sings.

-My son’s guitar, strumming solemnly the love-declaration song to a ghost, la Llorona.

-A lullaby.

…what was said at the Pura Belpre:

-“When I started submitting my story (Los Gatos Black on Halloween) to publishers, editors would ask me, ‘but what does Spanish have to do with Halloween?’” –Marisa Montes, Pura Belpre text honor speech.

-“I would ask my mother, “mom, would you rather be right or be happy?”, and she would answer, “honey, it makes me very HAPPY to be RIGHT!”
“Una cucaracha!”—Carmen Agra Deedy, text honor speech.

-“If only there were words I didn’t have to say, Like Juan Francisco Manzano, and Cuba, I could do my speech with out crying.”—Margarita Engle, the night before her Pura Belpre speech.

-“De colores, de colores se visten los campos de la primavera…” Audience singing accompanied by the music of the children mariachi band.

...what I brought to give away:
-I had a chance to share my Gatos Black in Halloween bookmarks I designed. They looked like this on each side:

..what I learned at the Pura Belpre:
-Margarita Engle has heard la Llorona cry. After my speech and my mention of the ancient Mexican ghost of the weeping woman, she told me how in the mountains she had heard a female mountain lion's cry, warning against anybody coming closer to her babies, “And you don’t know,” Margarita said, “whether it is a mother lion or la Llorona—the cry so much like a woman weeping.”

-Hope, Esperanza, is a beautiful name for beautiful women. Gracias, Hope for taking care of me that day.

Friday, July 4, 2008

ALA views

Back in my studio after an excellent weekend in Anaheim. Here are a few images of the exhibits from husband’s camera.

And so here are the...

Things I learn in Anaheim: Maps are deceiving. A two block walk in the broiling streets of Anaheim—from hotel to convention center—means a sweaty 25 minute workout.

Things I ate at Anaheim: Ice-cream sundae I made myself at the Roaring Brook Press Bowling Party on Friday evening. I also ended up with stiff right forearm and a 14 point score.

Things I saw in Anaheim: Books by Latino, for Latinos, about Latinos:

Pablo. Pablo Neruda, by Gerogina Lazaro and Marcela Donoso.

Outstanding: The work of Rafael Lopez continues to mesmerize me, wow! Take a lookybook of Our California , written by Pam Muñoz Ryan

And BOOK FIESTA! Celebrate Children’s Day/Book Day; Una celebración de El Día de los niños/El día de los libros

And I also found Rudy Gutierrez’s two first books, feasts to the eyes.

Papá and Me by Arthur Dorros

And Pele, King of Soccer/Pele, El Rey del Futbol, by Monica Brown, of which I don’t have an image of, but I can testify for its magnificence.

My attention went to these books not only because these are Latino, but because they are visually and thematically outstanding.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Montgomery Elementary and crossing haunted lagoons

I visited Montgomery Elementary in Davis before the end of the school year. We had assemblies and a mask making workshop. I was in awe with the skeleton masks the kids designed! Ribbons and pompoms where some of the favorite decorating material and were used so creatively that I couldn’t keep my mouth closed.

And so here are some questions sent to me from the third graders.

What is your favorite book you've made?
It is hard for me to choose a favorite book I have made. Some of them gave me unforgettable experiences, like Harvesting Hope: the Story of Cesar Chavez, a book that keeps making me friends with people who work and honor the legacy of Chavez. And I love Just a Minute with its birthday party theme, just like the cumpleaños I used to celebrate with my family in Mexico. Little Night is a book that reminds me of things my mother used to do and play with me when I was a child. This was a challenging book for me to paint due to its dark and yet colorful quality, and so I especially appreciated the satisfaction it gave me, after all my work and sweat, to do a good job. And Los Gatos Black is a celebration of the many things I used to be afraid of when I was a child, including witches, werewolves, el Coco, and la Llorona. Have you ever been afraid of la Llorona? I have!
My newest favorite is Just in Case, the sequel to Just a Minute. In this new book Sr. Calavera back comes back to the land of the living for this year’s Grandma Beetle’s birthday party. For this occasion—and in his quest to be on time—Sr. Calavera comes riding a bicycle decorated with tassels and bolitas, just like the bicycle I had when I was a child.

What is Señor Calavera supposed to be?
To me Sr. Calavera is a candied skeleton. The inspiration for this character was the Mexican sugar skulls children eat during the celebration for Day of the Death. These sugar skulls are always very colorful with lots of icing decorations. That is why Señor Calavera has decorations on his face, arms, and knees.

Why did you swim across the haunted lagoon?
I swam across the haunted lagoon because I didn’t want to be left behind inside haunted waters! This is how it happened:
When I was growing up in Mexico, my sisters and I became competitive swimmers. Our coach was a very creative person, and he constantly devised trainings that were very out of the ordinary.
For this particular training, the swimming team traveled to a youth camp at the edge of the famous Catemaco Lagoon. Catemaco is beautiful, hot and jungle-like, but it is also known for being land of witches and magical things. In the middle of the lake there are some tiny islands, one with herons, another one with monkeys. North of Catemaco, in the Monte Cerro Blanco, it is said that an annual meeting of witches and healers is held every March.
Our team consisted of my two younger sisters, two other girls, about four boys, and I. We all climbed into a small boat and took a short ride past one of the first islands, before my crazy coach made us jump into the water. “I’ll wait for you on the other side,” he said pointing at the direction where we were supposed to head towards. All I knew was that I needed to start swimming or else I would be left behind alone inside the dark waters of the Catemaco Lagoon. Some of the boys were already swimming ahead. At first I couldn’t even see the shore at the other side. We girls stayed together as a group for most of the swim. But we all, boys and girls, swam cutting through on one side of the lagoon; it is a huge lagoon (28.01 square miles) and it would have taken forever had we swam across the middle. It took us over two hours to reach the other side.

Maybe another I’ll tell you another time about the time our crazy coach made us swim to an island in the sea.

Where was Señor Calavera trying to take Grandma Beetle?
Hmmmm, where do YOU think?

Finally, here are some drawings from the letters I received from Mrs. Carol Stuwart’s 6th Graders. Look at the many interpretations of Señor Calavera!