By Valarie Budayr
We are thrilled to welcome yet another author to our Multicultural Children’s Book Day Spotlight: Shining the Light on Inclusive Authors & Illustrators series! This week we are shining the spotlight on Meg Medina, author of Tía Isa Wants a Car.
Meg Medina is the recipient of the 2014 Pura Belpré Author Award and has been a longtime advocate for diversity in children’s literature, portraying and celebrating the Latino cultural experience in her books. It would be wonderful to get her voice heard as a guest-poster in the MCBD platform as she has a large following and will surely be able to contribute an interesting take on diversity in children’s literature.
Meg Medina is the author of The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind and the picture book Tía Isa Wants a Car, illustrated by Claudio Muñoz, which won the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award. Her most recent young adult novel, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, is the winner of the 2014 Pura Belpré Author Award. The daughter of Cuban immigrants, she grew up in Queens, New York, and now lives in Richmond, Virginia.
1. What is your favorite letter of the alphabet and why?
In English, it’s M, and not because it forms my initials. I like the sound it makes…like something is delicious or we’re thinking deep thoughts. In spanish, I like ñ because of its cool little hat. It is pronounced “nyeh.” What an attitude!
2. What do you want readers to know about your latest book?
I want readers to remember that it has to do with bullying, but it has more to do with how to be a strong girl and survive. Also, they should know that there are plenty of moments when you just have to laugh.
3. As an author, how do you know when you have discovered an idea for your next book?
It’s a book when I start to dream about it at night. I go to bed working out a scene or thinking about a character.
4. What was the catalyst for creating your latest book?
Failure was the catalyst in a way. I wrote a story for an anthology that never got published. The theme of the anthology was “a Latina at a turning point.” When the editor left, the project was orphaned. Luckily, my editor at Candlewick suggested that I try telling the story in a novel format. As I started to work the plot into a novel, I realized the rich layers that would be possible and also all the things that I wanted to say about being young and in the crosshairs of a bully. It was a hard novel to write because I had to draw on some sad memories from my own life, but it was also so empowering to be able to face down old shame and consider what my own experience could offer girls today.
5. What’s next? What projects/books/events do you have in the works that you would like to share?
I have a picture book coming out next year. Mango, Abuela and Me, (illustrated by Angela Dominguez) which will be published simultaneously in a Spanish edition and an English edition. I’m so excited to have another picture book. This one is about family and language. Even little kids have to figure out how to connect across language and culture, sometimes within their own family. Luckily, young people usually come armed with good ideas, like using a parrot as a translator.
After that, I have a young adult novel due to publish in spring 2016. It’s set in NYC during the height of the disco era. Get your Spandex on, friends!
To learn more about Meg Medina, please visit her website.