Cubanita by Gaby Triana

Cubanita by Gaby Triana (HarperCollins, 2005). Unlike Mami, Isa is no Cubanita. Of course she loves her family, but the U.S. is the only home she knows. What’s more, Isa has broken up with her boyfriend, is busy teaching kids art at a summer camp, and is not getting involved with any boy so as to leave for the University of Michigan with a clear head. But then she meets a man and Mami suddenly may need her more than ever. What’s this non-Cubanita to do? Funny, touching, sure to please. Ages 12-up.

More Thoughts on Cubanita

I read this book on the plane on the way to ALA. First off, my deepest thanks to the author from distracting me from the Mick Jagger-ish guy (sniffed a lot, disappeared to the washroom for an hour) sitting beside me. Yikes.

People are always talking about reader identification. I pulled this book from the pile to read next because I had gone to U of M, too.

Check out author Gaby Triana’s YA reading list!

Cynsational Links

Jennifer Laughran (AKA literaticat (love that name)) reports on the cynsations LJ syndication that she has an inside scoop on the slanted Wall Street Journal article I referenced in my recent cynsations post, Defending YA Lit, and that she is “so writing a scathing letter to the editor.” Read her comments and her letter to the editor. What a great job she did! A big thanks to Jennifer for sharing her insights and speaking out!

ALA: Miss Cecil Shines

Greg and I had the pleasure of speaking at the ALA national conference in Chicago earlier this week with Miss Cecil Castellucci.

Miss Cecil was wonderful! Charming, energetic, and on target! She gave a thoughtful and inspiring speech on the role of humor in literature, film, and the world. She also was great in the Q&A that followed.

My, her rising star does glitter!

It was a fun conference with old friends and new–all amazing people who love books.

Cynsational Links

The Electronic Magazine of Multicultural Education has posted its latest children’s book reviews. Two of my own works, Rain Is Not My Indian Name (HarperCollins, 2001) and Indian Shoes (HarperCollins, 2002), are reviewed along with four other children’s titles and five professional books.

Congrats to D.L. Garfinkle, author of Storky: How I Lost My Nickname and Won the Girl (Putnam, 2005), and Cecil Castellucci, author of Boy Proof (Candlewick, 2005), who received “Flying Starts” cheers from PW!

New From Holiday House

Congratulations to Holiday House (1935-1970) on its 70th anniversary!

I’m on the lookout for two books on the 2005 list: Pizza for the Queen by Nancy Castaldo, illustrated by Melisande Potter; and Love, Football and Other Contact Sports by Alden R. Carter.

Holiday House is small, family owned, and quality oriented. My favorites from the backlist include: There Goes Lowell’s Party by Esther Hershenhorn, illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers (1998); The Cat Who Loved Mozart by Patricia Austin, illustrated by Henri Sorenson (2001); and The Children of Topaz: The Story of the Japanese-American Internment Camp by Michael O. Tunnell and George W. Chilcoat (1996)

minor nag: It’s a tad frustrating when publishers send reviewers catalogs without enclosing an easy-to-use order form to request copies of books of interest. Of course it’s also frustrating when they ignore your request-list and just send whatever “push” books, regardless of whether you requested them (which happens more often than you’d think).

Defending YA Lit

It seems we’re in the midst of another round of national media articles saying there’s–gasp!–sex and what not (quick: somebody call Judy Blume!) in young adult literature.

The headlines tend to read like warnings, and in one of the latest, a parent suggests the need for “ratings” on books. Overgeneralizations abound, the tone is anywhere from smug to alarmed, and it’s clear that sources are not, shall we say, particularly well read in the field.

I sort of put these in the same category as the periodic articles about high school and college students drinking beer–breaking news that. Certainly, GenX, GenY, and the boomers never drank beer. Uh-hem.

At the same time, I wish that we in the YA community were more organized with responses. We’re brilliant, articulate, and we actually know what we’re talking about. We’ve poured years of thought into the subject. Maybe we should start thinking about putting some letters to the editor in the queue. After all, it’s not as though we don’t know what to expect from our (usually) ill-informed critics. Let’s talk back!

Janie Bynum on the Town

Greg and I enjoyed drinks tonight at Guero’s on South Congress with author/illustrator Janie Bynum, currently of Wimberly, just back from NYC.

Cynsational News & Links

“Query Letters: A Personal Journey” by Vijaya Bodach, in the Query Letters section of Writer’s Support from the Institute of Children’s Literature. See also “Blank Page Syndrome” by Nat Ryan, in the Getting Started section of Writer’s Support from ICL.

I’d like to thank author Lisa Yee for her recent comment on cynsations LJ syndication, and let authors LZ, DLG, MP (thanks to you, too!), and CC know they’re also in my thoughts!

Final Revisions

I’m in the midst of final revisions for my upcoming YA novel with Candlewick and my upcoming picture book with Dutton. Yes, when it rains, it pours–but joyfully so!

It’s heartening and a bit nerve-wracking to think this is my last chance to make these manuscripts better before they go to copyediting.

Some people hate to revise, but I love it.

Each revision is an opportunity.

Cynsational News & Links

YA author Lauren Barnholdt (In The House (Simon Pulse, 2006)) will be teaching an online workshop called “Writing The YA Chicklit Novel,” starting August 1st. Work will be turned in and critiqued, along with class discussions on finding an agent, writing a query letter, who’s buying
what, why the market’s so hot, and what makes a good YA chick-lit. For more information, email Lauren at lauren(at) Surf by Lauren’s blog.

Marketing With Fran: When Can A Reviewer Expect to be Paid? by Francine Silverman from Open Horizons: Promoting Your Book to a Worldwide and Someday Galactic Audience.

Cyn and Greg at TSU (formerly Southwest Texas State)

Greg and I had a lovely time today speaking to Judy Leavell’s class at Texas State University. We very much enjoy visiting university classroom groups–be they comprised of prospective teachers or librarians–and have spoken at schools across the state and elsewhere.

Dr. Leavell did a particularly good job of planning. The students had been read Rain Is Not My Indian Name (HarperCollins, 2001) for several days prior to our visit, and a very successful booksale also was planned.

Cynsational News & Links

Writing Tips on Plot from Martha Alderson at

Congratulations to Greg Leitich Smith, who received his author copies of Tofu and T. rex (Little Brown, 2005) in hardcover and Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo (Little Brown, 2005) in paperback. Also read his WriteFest 05 report.

While you’re at it, read the lovely and brilliant Tanya Lee Stone’s WF 05 report, too!

Note: If (always an “if” at this point), we host WF again, we will be looking for friends of Cyn and Greg who’ve published 1-3 novels. Potential new blood (bah, ha, ha, ha) is welcome to express interest, if it’s out there.

Grassroots: Share The Love Of Reading

A major focus of this blog and my site is spreading the word that good books matter. I also do a good bit of that in my public speaking. For example, I’m giving a talk with Greg at Texas State University in San Marcos this week, and we’ll be giving away signed books by Texas children’s authors and illustrators along with a bibliography of those folks’ titles and Web site URLs.

It’ll probably take five or so minutes out of our presentation to briefly booktalk each one, and I spent at most another ten putting together and printing the bibliography.

Since writers are readers, it makes sense that we act as ambassadors as children’s/YA literature. This is an example of an easy and effective way to do just that.

Here’s the list I’ll be handing out (while also presenting a signed copy of A Great And Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (Delacorte, 2003) to the hosting professor):

Central Texas Children’s/YA Authors & Illustrators

Kathi Appelt:
My Father’s Summers: A Daughter’s Memoir (Henry Holt, 2004)

Anne Bustard:
Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly (Simon & Schuster, 2005)

Dianna Hutts Aston:
Loony Little (Candlewick, 2003)

Joy Fisher Hein:
Miss Lady Bird’s Wildflowers: How A First Lady Changed America (HarperCollins, 2005); note: book is written by Kathi Appelt (see above)

Julie Lake:
Galveston’s Summer of the Storm (TCU Press, 2003)

Lindsey Lane:
Snuggle Mountain (Clarion, 2003)

Debbie Leland:
The Jalepeno Man (Wildflower Run, 2000); The Little Prairie Hen (Wildflower Run, 2003)

Jane Peddicord:
Night Wonders (Charlesbridge, 2005)

Elizabeth Garton Scanlon:
A Sock Is A Pocket For Your Toes: A Pocket Book (HarperCollins, 2004)

Cynthia Leitich Smith:
Jingle Dancer (Morrow, 2000); Rain Is Not My Indian Name (HarperCollins, 2001); Indian Shoes (HarperCollins, 2002)

Greg Leitich Smith:
Ninjas Piranhas, and Galileo (Little Brown, 2003); Tofu and T. rex (Little Brown, 2005)

Jerry Wermund:
Earthscapes: Landforms Sculpted by Water, Wind, and Ice (Rockon Publishing, 2003)

Kathy Whitehead:
Looking For Uncle Louie On The Fourth of July (Boyds Mils Press, 2005)

note: I don’t just talk about books by Texans; I simply thought it would be a good fit/theme for this particular event. That said, if you are a central Texas author/illustrator who’s not participating in this sort of promotion and wants to, drop me a note! I’d love to hear from you and do what I can to raise awareness of your work.

Cynsational News & Links

Children’s Author, Illustrator, and Poet Kim Norman debuts her Web site. Kim illustrated The Museum Duck, written by Verne Edwards (Pearl Line Press, 200) and was a contributing poet to Rolling In The Ailses (Meadowbrook, 2004). She looks forward to the release of her first picture book, Jack Of All Tails, illustrated by David Clark (Dutton, TBA). Read her Bio Of A Not-Shy Author.

The Books of Robin Pulver: author Web site includes Axle Annie’s School Bus, Mrs. Toggle’s Classroom, A Vacation With Punctuation, Robin’s life story, publishing news, autographed bookmarks, illustrators’ drawings to print and color, and a Christmas kitten maze.

Diary Of A Fairy Godmother Online Diary Activity

Hyperion Books for Children is pleased to celebrate the publication of Esmé Raji Codell’s Diary Of A Fairy Godmother (June 2005), by encouraging burgeoning writers (ages 9-14) to create and utilize an online diary.

This interactive, “relationship-building” marketing campaign directly encourages reading and journaling, gives kids immediate rewards in the form of sweepstakes entries for their participation, and introduces a witchingly delightful cast of characters from the book to future fans.

Codell explains, “I am so glad children have an inspiring tool like the internet to help them write down all that they notice, and this new generation of diary-keepers can reach out and share what they create with others. Old-fashioned or new-fangled, whether it’s called a journal, a diary, a log or a blog, it’s all the same: the chance to capture the magic of everyday life in print, the chance to tell ourselves and others the story of who we were, right now or sometime in the future. It’s quite a trick.”

Perfect for a summer activity that will keep kids’ creative juices flowing, The Diary of a Fairy Godmother Online Diary Writing Sweepstakes will take place in cyberspace from June 15 through August 31, 2005.

Cynsational News & Links

The Lady and Red: Despite Illness an Author Stands Out, Just Like Her Subject by David Mehegan from The Boston Globe. About Amy Butler Greenfield‘s ”A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire.”

“Cataloging the Internet” by Chitra Soundar, in the Electronic Writing section of Writing Tips (Taming the Internet monster) from the Institute of Children’s Literature.

Author K.L. Going writes that her new book, The Liberation of Gabriel King (G.P. Putnam, 2005), launched this past Thursday, June 16th. She’s received great reviews already, including a star from Kirkus!

Anne Miranda writes to announce her Web site. She is the author of 16 books and published by such houses as Hyperion, Harcourt, Little Brown, and Boyd’s Mills.

Sandra McLeod Humphrey writes that she has been selected by the Church and Synagogue Library Association to receive the “Helen Keating Ott Award for Outstanding Contribution to Children’s Literature” on July 24th in Portland, Oregon, at their awards banquet.

I’d like to send out a “Happy Father’s Day!” to Deb Allie‘s dad. Debora’s first book, The Meanest Girl (Roaring Brook, 2005), was recently recommended on cynsations.