Archive for the ‘Dear Primo’ Category

Author’s Day at the Woodbridge Library

May 17, 2010

Mixteco codex

My first book event in the US was at the Woodbridge Library in New Jersey. Every year the library has an Author’s Day when they invite several writers and librarians from the region to come. The librarians get to see the writers’ new work. We all get to meet each other and new books are brought back to libraries.

The event went really well. I did a presentation of my book Dear Primo. The librarians there specially liked the artwork of the book and where able to further appreciate it because I showed some slides of the Pre-Columbian and Mixteco art that inspires my illustrations. The copies of my book at the event sold out, and I signed a lot of books. It was very rewarding.

The Popularity Papers

There were other authors at the event. I specially liked meeting Amy Ignatow. She is a fellow author-illustrator. Her book is called The Popularity Papers. It’s super-entertaining and I highly recommend it. It’s published by Abrams also.

The only dark side to the visit was that I learned from librarians in Woodbridge that up to 70% of the New Jersey public library budgets are being cut. Unfortunately this is the case in many other states. You can visit http://www.ilovelibraries.org/ to get involved and sign a petition to stop these cuts.

I have some new events coming up. I will be at the Book Expo in the Javit Center in New York City on May 25th. I will be at Books of Wonder in Manhattan on June 5th and I will be at the American Library Association conference in DC on June 27th and 28th. I’ll put more info about these events in my facebook and twitter accounts as the dates approach.

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Uninter Cuernavaca

May 17, 2010

Rivera mural in the Cortez Palace, Cuernavaca

I was invited by Abraham Popoca to show my book at the Universidad Internacional in Cuernavaca. Abraham along with a group of students there runs a research center that looks into policy relating to children’s rights. They were interested in my book because of its bi-national nature.

I did a presentation of the book and showed them also another picture book I wrote and illustrated called Solar Cookies. The college students there enjoyed the books and had excellent and challenging questions. One of the students asked me if I worried that the Mexican child in the book was a stereotype, or that a Mexican child who saw the book would be ashamed of how Mexican children are represented in it.

Dear Primo’s main character are Carlitos and Charlie. Carlitos is a rural boy from Mexico, Charlie is his cousin and lives in a city in the US. Carlitos wears sandals. Charlie wears hightop sneakers and a fitted baseball hat.

Carlitos

I could understand why the Uninter student would ask that question. I have a multilayered response to it. To begin, the book is addressed to children between 4-8. And though I always attempt to create something sophisticated, for this project it was very important to focus on the contrasts between Carlitos and Charlie -much like the country mouse and city mouse story- and keep them clear and simple.

I am aware that Mexico is a very urbanized country. The Mexico City metropolitan area is the largest metropolitan area in the American continent. And I am aware that Mexico is in many ways a very Americanized country, and that the US also is a very Mexican country. But again, for the sake of clarity and simplicity I had to make the contrasts in food, environment, etc very clear, almost extreme. Yet, the point of the book is that regardless of their nationalities Carlitos and Charlie are at heart more alike than different.

There is an important reason why I decided to make Carlitos a rural boy and Charlie an urban one. Without being overt, I am acknowledging the migration of Mexican workers to the US. A large portion of these workers come from rural backgrounds and often migrate to cities in the US. They work as deliveryman, nannies, construction workers and in other service industries. That is the experience of people I know both in San Miguel Allende, where I grew up, and in New York, where I went to school.

Further, tradition and progress don’t have to be mutually exclusive. One can be can modern and up to date and at the same time have a strong sense of identity. One can be technologically savvy and at the same time be proud of ones heritage and traditions.

After the presentation I got to hang out with some Uninter students. It was a lot of fun. The students at the research center are a very close and supportive group.

***

I’m currently working on a new picture book. It is inspired by the life and art of Diego Rivera. It wil be out next spring. Although I didn’t see the Rivera mural in Cuernavaca on my visit to the Uninter, I did see it on a previous visit to the city. It’s excellent and entrance is free on Sundays, I believe.

Rancho Alcocer School

May 17, 2010

Escuela Rancho Alcocer

It was quite fitting that the first reading of my newly published book Dear Primo was to kids at my old elementary school. It was a spur of the moment kinda thing. I ran into Mario, my old principal, at el Tecolote bookstore. A few days later I grabbed the proof of my book -the book wasn’t available yet then- and took the little school bus up to Alcocer, a rural community outside of San Miguel Allende.

There are only 20 or so students in the school. They don’t wear uniforms. Students from different grades are mixed together. There are chickens, rabbits and a large vegetable garden that the students help rise. The school was closed for many years, but it re-opened two years ago. Fortunately, very little has changed since the time I attended it more than 15 years ago.

It was a very special to be in Alcocer as a guest alumni after such a long time. It was lot of fun and a good learning experience reading to the kids there. They enjoyed the book. They asked a lot of questions and put me on the spot more then once.

Dear Primo, a letter to my cousin

November 19, 2009

cover

This is the cover of “Dear Primo, a letter to my cousin.” It’s my first picture book. I wrote the story and illustrated it. Its published by Abrams and it will be in stores March 1st.

The story is about Carlitos and Charlie, two cousins that write letters back and forth to each other. Carlitos lives in the countryside in Mexico. He rides his bicicleta to school and loves quesadillas. Charlie lives in a city in the US. He rides the subway to school and always gets a slice of pizza on his way home.

There are words in Spanish scattered throughout Dear Primo and a glossary at the end. These are some spreads from the book:

p8-9

p12-13

p18-19

p30-31

Carlitos and Charlie’s environments are vastly different, but at the end of the day the two primos are more alike then different. Primos are primos. The story is inspired by my own experiences and observations. I grew up in Mexico, but have lived for a significant amount of years in the US.

I received a copy of the book from my publisher this last week. Here are some pictures of it:

p14-15

p22-23

I’m so happy with how it came out.  My mom and I got very emotional when I translated the author’s note to her.

my mom and the primos

I can’t wait to see it in libraries and bookstores, but more importantly, to see children reading it.

cover

I plan on being in NY for the release of the book and hopefully I’ll be doing some book readings too. More on that once I know the details.

The book is 32 pages long, full color. It’s 8.5 x 11 inches, and it has a hardcover with a jacket. If you are interested in pre-ordering the book you can click here and to see the Abrams spring 2010 catalog you can click here or visit www.abramsyoungreaders.com