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I’m getting ready to make another skip, hop and leap across a few seas and the Atlantic to go back home to Texas, where I’ll be making two appearances at the Texas Book Festival on Sunday, November 5. I’ll be at the Ahora Sí Tent (11th Street b/t Congress and Brazos) for Bilingual Story time from 11-11:30 a.m. and at the Children’s Read Me A Story Tent (10th & Congress) for Story time from 12:30-1 p.m. Book sales and signing to follow.
I’m super excited about going to the two-day event, mostly because there are SOOOO many fantastic authors in the line-up (Samantha Irby! Angie Thomas! Mac Barnett! Matt de la Peña!). I usually take my daughters with me to book festivals, but this time I’ll be going it alone, so I’ll actually be able to sit in and listen to writers who write for grown-ups without having to be huddled in a back corner on the floor, doling out snacks to my kids to keep them quiet and entertained. Aaah, I am SO looking forward to this, both as an author and as especially as a reader.
If you’ve never been, this festival is HUGE (I wouldn’t expect any less from my home state) so there’s something for everybody. Here’s more:
The Texas Book Festival is FREE and open to the public.
One of the largest and most prestigious literary festivals in the country, the annual Texas Book Festival features 250+ nationally and critically recognized adult and children’s authors, 20+ venues including the State Capitol, 80+ exhibitors, live music, local food trucks, family activities, and countless opportunities to meet authors and fellow book lovers.
We are a nonprofit organization. Book sales at the Festival support the two day event and our statewide school and library programming. Thank you for your support!
Nos vemos pronto, Texas! I’m heading straight to the tacos and Big Red when I get there.
“After she realized there weren’t enough girl superheroes in the world, Cynthia Leonor Garza created one. She talks with NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro about her new book, Lucia the Luchadora.”
I’m in the States for a few weeks this summer, visiting from Nairobi, Kenya, where I moved late last year. Since I was making the loooooong trip across the pond (and past a couple of seas) I figured it would be great to get a few bookstore and library visits in. First stop, Washington, D.C.!
I did a story time at East City Bookshop, a really wonderful, year-old not-so-little but not-too-big bookstore in the Eastern Market neighborhood. It is just right! It felt so comfy to me that I went back after lunch and spent some time there browsing, relaxing on their comfy sofa downstairs and buying books to take back with me to Kenya when I return.
Next stop in D.C. were two events set up by Politics & Prose bookstore. The first was at the Takoma Park, Maryland public library and the other at D.C.’s Petworth library. At both I did a story time and talked a bit about how I came up with the idea for the book. Then we made máscaras!
I feel waaaaaaay better knowing there are now a few good luchadores on the loose in our nation’s capital.
Before I headed to the airport to Miami (next stop Books & Books!) I made a pit stop at the Politics and Prose on Connecticut Ave. It was Saturday afternoon, and GOOD LORD, that store was JAM-PACKED. So nice to see so many people clamoring for books. And coffee, at the cafe downstairs. Lots of people clamoring for coffee.
And look, that’s me and Lucía the Luchadora listed in Politics and Prose’s monthly guide and in their 2017 Children and Teen’s Department Favorites booklet. Gracias P&P!
I ended my book tour in Houston, where I visited an array of places – from libraries to schools to bookstores to speaking at my alma mater, Rice University.
Rice was my first stop in town. I gave a talk on the craft of writing for children and why grown-ups should read picture books. Rice has a lovely campus, which has only gotten nicer over time with the mix of classic and modern architecture. The talk was hosted by Rice University Public Affairs’ Multicultural Community Relations and SOLAR, the Society of Latino Alumni of Rice. Mil gracias!
I visited one school in Houston, or technically, in Bellaire – Horn Elementary. But I also got to read to preschoolers from Ninfa Laurenzo Early Childhood Education Center at Houston Public Library’s Stanaker Neighborhood Library. The kids also worked on coloring their own masks, you know, to go with the capes all of them were wearing already. They got this superhero thing down!
On my final day of book touring, I visited Brazos Bookstore for a story time and signing and also did another story time and craft activity at Houston Public Library’s Jungman Neighborhood Library. Visiting the libraries made me miss the neighborhood libraries in my former home of Washington, D.C. I’m glad I got to spend time in a few good ones while here in the States.
And that’s it. Fifteen days of a packed book tour in the books! And I enjoyed every minute of it.
I hope to do some more book signings and story times next time I return to the U.S., later this year.
Thanks to the Hebbronville Museum Foundation and the Jim Hogg County Public Library in my hometown in South Texas for inviting me to speak to the community. It was a packed house in the meeting room of the First National Bank, and so wonderful getting to see the faces of so many folks who have known me since I was a kid. I got to meet a lot of kids I’d never met before, and I got to see many of my former teachers, whom I owe a lot of gratitude for their enduring support, even at my grown age. My junior high librarian, Mrs. Irma Salinas, even brought me a little gift – a t-shirt covered in POW’s and BAM’s, just like the ones in Lucía the Luchadora. Best. Shirt. Ever. I’ll have to snap a pic of myself in it soon. Thanks, Mrs. Salinas!
That’s the great thing about growing up in a small town. You never really outgrow it.
I got to do two Skype visits recently, one while I was in Houston and the other from here in Nairobi. Same school, different days and for different groups of kids. Both great!
Austin is always amazing, but in the spring, it’s especially nice. I had a terrific few days in the city while on my book tour. First stop was a Saturday morning story time and book signing at BookPeople.
A few months earlier, I asked my FB friends who lived in Austin what their favorite bookstore in the city was, and hands down, most said BookPeople. So, I was super happy to visit. The bonus: arriving and seeing my name on a marquee!
Okay, that was cool. But actually, the real bonus was seeing friends I hadn’t seen in forever here – friends from growing up, from college, folks I’ve worked with, friends who are like cousins, my BFF since elementary. Plus, their kids. And of course, I loved meeting new folks and little lucha fans.
In the afternoon of that same day, I visited another great bookstore, BookWoman, and did another story time and a coloring activity with the kids. It was also a great visit and I snagged some terrific books for myself to take back to Nairobi with me. Because Girl Power is a way of life no matter where you’re living in the world.
Uphaus ECC was an especially fun visit. Check out the photos of Uphaus ECC librarian Denise Graham, who dressed up just like Lucía the luchadora! And she dressed up the school mascot, an oversized stuffed panda, as Pandita la luchadora, too. As I was signing in at the front office upon arrival, a young woman next to me gasped when she saw me and said, “OMG, you’re the author!” I was surprised, and was like, yeah, how do you know? And she said, “There’s pictures of you all over the school!”
There sure were. I was totally wowed by the preparation Ms. Graham put into the visit. The kids had even made their own lucha libre masks. Uphaus is so lucky to have such an enthusiastic and caring librarian.
I also received a wonderfully warm reception at Graham Elementary. I got to speak to second graders there, which was totally different than speaking to pre-schoolers who are more into sharing thoughts than asking questions. I fielded some excellent questions about writing from the Graham students.
I also loved that they wore capes that day. A towel. A blanket. Doesn’t take much to be a superhero!
After NYC, I flew into Texas where I spent most of the time on my book tour. First stop was San Antonio.
San Antonio has always been a place where I feel super comfortable. People are genuinely nice (and lots of them look like me), the freeways don’t move as fast or as crazy as Houston and there are H-E-B’s everywhere. There’s also an unshakeable atmosphere of fiesta all year round, even when it’s not officially Fiesta, so you can’t help but be happy.
San Antonio is steeped in history, but every time I visit the city I discover something or some place new. Last summer was the first time I visited the Pearl Brewery district. I ate, visited the shops, walked down the new Riverwalk area and got some books at The Twig bookstore. I had a nice visit, so I was super happy to return to The Twig for a story time and book signing during this book tour. It was on a Sunday, and the farmer’s market in the Pearl district was in full swing, with live music and families sprawled out on the grassy areas. Despite the storm that passed in the morning, it turned out to be a lovely afternoon.
I also got to do a story time and book signing at the Barnes & Noble at The Shops at La Cantera. It’s a huge store with a large children’s book section and an adorable story time stage. I like small bookstores, but I also love getting lost in a big one, especially one that smells of coffee.
I also visited The Little School at Keystone and Burleson Early Childhood Center during the week and read to the students and talked to them about the inspiration for Lucía the Luchadora, a bit about lucha libre and a bit about me.
My mother lives in San Antonio, so she accompanied me for my book signings in San Antonio and Austin. She was pretty excited and exceedingly proud of me, which even at my late-thirties age kind of embarrasses me. It was sweet, and now I can see where I get that intense mother’s love I have for my own daughters from.
I was in NYC from March 25-28 to kick off my two-week book tour for Lucía the Luchadora. It was my first trip back to the States since moving to Nairobi in late December, so it was SUPER exciting to be home. I’ve been hanging out in sandals and sunscreen all ‘winter’ long. My mind hasn’t made the below-the-equator switch yet and it’s actually ‘summer’ here. So, instead of being sick of the cold by this point in early ‘spring’ as I would have been if I was still living in D.C., I was actually happy to put on a pair of thick, warm socks and a comfy coat and see the gritty mounds of weeks-old snow taking up parking spaces on the crammed city streets. Also, while Kenya has some of the best coffee in the world, it’s not that easy to find a cup of delicious drip brewed coffee in Nairobi (my go-to place is Java House), but in New York, you’re guaranteed fresh coffee on every corner. Every. Single. Street Corner. Praise for convenience. 🙌🏽☕️
The flight from Nairobi to NYC took about 21 hours. A bit exhausting, yup, but I was ready to see a show on my first night in town, so my good writer friend Miguel Angeles got us tix to go see John Leguizamo: Latin History for Dummies. Jumping into Latinidad was the BEST way to jump back into America, especially because my Latina identity is strangely invisible and not obvious living in Kenya. I’ve been mistaken for a dozen other ethnicities, but never Latina. And c’mon, I’m textbook Latina. My mind is still processing this new life of living as a Latina in Africa. It’s kind of a mind boggle.
On to the book tour …
My first book tour stop was on Saturday at McNally Jackson bookstore. I did a story time, signed books and helped kids craft their very own lucha libre masks. My sixth grade math teacher from my small town in South Texas and a former colleague that I hadn’t seen in ages showed up unannounced, which was just made my heart so happy. It was like that for the whole book tour. I got to see so many faces I hadn’t seen in real life in forever. I’m thankful for all the love and support of friends and family.
That Sunday, I visited powerHouse on 8th bookstore in Brooklyn. It’s one of the two Brooklyn bookstores owned by my publisher POW! kids books. I got to meet my wonderful editor Jordan Nielsen for the first time, too. Jordan did an amazing job in shepherding the book through as the words and illustrations and layout were all combined so beautifully.
On Monday, I visited two Brooklyn schools – P.S. 1 The Bergen School and P.S. 310 The School for Future Leaders – thanks to the great folks at the Brooklyn Public Library, who set up the visits. On Tuesday, I visited P.S. 3 The Charrette School in Manhattan.
I also visited the studios of Latino U.S.A., the radio show that airs on NPR. I sat down with host Maria Hinojosa to talk about Lucía.
And then I was off to Texas on Wednesday … more on next post.