While I was in Texas a few weeks ago on book tour, I talked with the Houston Chronicle about Lucía, writing and why I made the leap from journalism to writing for children. You can read the story here. Here’s some of what we talked about:
Garza, who has a background in journalism and writing, said she wanted to write her first picture book for kids like her — and for kids like her daughters. “I was looking for something I wasn’t finding,” she said: picture books that featured kids who looked like her kids.
Just a few years ago, a study by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center study revealed that only about 3 percent of kids’ books are by or about Latinos. “Animals and trucks are more widely represented in children’s books than Latinos,” Garza said. So she wrote “Lucía the Luchadora,” hoping to make a small dent in that statistic.
Of course, that’s not the only reason I decided to write for children, but it’s the one that gives me the greatest feeling of urgency in doing so. Below is a graphic of that study referenced in the article. Looking at those figures should give everyone – parents, educators, writers, librarians, bookstore owners, book buyers, the publishing industry – a sense of urgency.
The School Library Journal, the premiere publication for librarians and information specialists who work with children and teens, has given Lucía the Luchadora a Starred Review. And their verdict:
A shining debut outing for author and illustrator, this endearing and humorous title is sure to put a bit of KA-POW into storytimes! A must-have.
Wowzies. Danke. Actually, when I read the story aloud at a story time, I have the kids yell out back to me the KA-POWs and BAMs after I say them, and sometimes I have them give me a superhero pose while they say it. I call it a lucha libre warm up. It seems to make the kids hold their head up a little more, puff their chest out a bit more. Seeing this has made me think of Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on how body language shapes who you are:
Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.
For girls and boys, striking superhero poses while yelling out KA-POW and BAM isn’t just fun. I think it can actually go a long way in helping them find the hero and the courage and confidence they all have within.
I did an author Q&A with La Casa Azul Bookstore recently. They do this great Author Profile series of Latinx writers and artists who have upcoming books. It’s a weekly series that comes through their newsletter – so sign up for it!
I did this Q & A with Colorín Colorado recently where I talked about the inspiration behind my book Lucía the Luchadora, my childhood memories of lucha libre, and why this story was meant to be a picture book. Check it out.
While you’re on their website, you should also check out the terrific booklists they’ve created for children and young adults – all celebrating a wide range of cultures, languages, perspectives and experiences. Basically, books that represent my every day world and experience. Yes, yes and yes!
Colorín Colorado is really a gem of a website, full of resources for educators, families and students who are English language learners (ELLs) in grades preK-12. They are an educational service of WETA, the local PBS station in Washington, DC, and are supported by the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association. So of course, they also have great booklists for educators who work with ELLs.
Ah, I can’t get enough of booklists. Thanks Colorín Colorado for the great questions.
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I love teachers. Literally love them. My mother and father were both teachers. I’ve got SIL’s who are teachers, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends who are teachers. I was even a teacher for a short time in between college and graduate school, many, many years ago. Educators are close to my heart, and there’s nothing I love more than seeing – no, feeling – that spark in a classroom that happens when good teaching is at work. It’s like magic, beautiful magic.
So when Lucía the Luchadora got close to the printing phase, I started thinking about creating a curriculum guide to go with the book. I turned to an education expert – well, she’s actually a good friend of mine – my comadre Giselle and asked if she knew anyone who could create a guide. OF COURSE! she said enthusiastically, and put me in touch straight away with Becky Palacios, teacher extraordinaire, whom I had met a few years ago. Becky, ahem, Dr. Rebecca Palacios, was a preschool teacher for over thirty years in Corpus Christi, Texas, which is a city not far from where I grew up (also home of Selena!!!). She’s a mover-and-shaker kind of educator, and in 2014 she was inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame. Becky is a real life luchadora!
The curriculum guide Becky created to go with Lucía the Luchadora is nothing short of awesome. Its filled with questions, lessons, ideas, and conversation starters for the classroom. It can be used for little ones and older students. And my favorite part is that it also includes lessons for English language learners.
I hope this curriculum guide inspires educators to make magic, beautiful magic in their classrooms. I’d love to hear from teachers all about it. Send me a message on Twitter anytime!
Thrilled that the editors at Amazon.com have selected Lucía the Luchadora as one of six Best Books of the Month for March for picture books ages 3-5. Look at it, right next to Mac Barnett and R.J. Palacio books!!!!!
Kirkus has given Lucía the Luchadora a Starred Review! Here’s an excerpt:
Garza shines in her children’s debut. The text bursts with infectious energy and Lucía’s endearing personality … Likewise, Bermudez’s colorful, buoyant illustrations radiate pure joy. Nifty text placement, variations in type color, and use of sound effects add to this delightful package, making it a joy for readers to root for this plucky young girl. A KA-POW kind of wonderful.
The entire review can be found here.
And here she is, the long-awaited arrival: 1.2 lbs., 32 pages and full of spunk and splendor!
As my editor told me when she first saw the book, the photo doesn’t do this cover justice. It really is a beautiful and striking cover, and the colors just pop. I can’t wait to display this on my picture frame floating bookshelves in my office. Lucía’s illustrator Alyssa Bermudez and the whole team at POW! Kids did an outstanding job. BRAVO!
In other good news, the release date for the book has been moved up to March 7 instead of April. It’s available for pre-order now.
There’s also now an official Lucía the Luchadora Facebook fan page where we’ll list any events or info related to the book. Give it a Like! And let us know on the FB page if you have a local bookstore that you think should carry this little lucha libre libro (say that five times really fast!), and we’ll reach out to them.
The cover to Lucía the Luchadora has been released, and isn’t it a beauty?! The book’s amazing illustrator Alyssa Bermudez has been hard at work these past few months on the art, and I’ve gotta say, it’s been super cool to watch the story come to life. Can’t wait for it to be out in the world.
The book is set to be released April 11, 2017, but is already available for pre-order.
This is the official announcement about Lucía the Luchadora in Publishers Weekly’s Rights Report. I’m super excited to be working with Alyssa and the team at Pow! Kids Books to get this out to the world next year.