First Look: an excerpt from Guadalupe Garcia McCall’s ‘Summer of the Mariposas’

Today is National Siblings Day, so we thought it would be the perfect time to share a sneak peek of one of our most highly anticipated upcoming books: Morris finalist and Belpré winner Guadalupe Garcia McCall’s Summer of the Mariposas!  Out in fall 2012 from our Tu Books imprint, Summer of the Mariposas is a YA retelling of The Odyssey in which Odilia and her sisters embark on a quest through Mexico to return a dead man to his family, and must overcome monsters from Mexican folklore as they journey home.

In the excerpt below, the Garza sisters have found a dead body in their swimming hole, and Juanita, the second eldest, has hatched a harebrained scheme to take their father’s car and return the dead man to his family in Mexico. Odilia, the eldest (and narrator of Summer of the Mariposas), is trying to trick her sisters into staying home by telling them she’ll tell their mother:

Juanita came back into the room, looking more like herself again. “You’re a lousy sister!” she yelled.

“Enough!” I finally raised my voice the way Mamá does when she’s done putting up with them. “Now go to bed before I call Mamá back and tell her what’s really going on. And you, stop cursing, or I’ll wash your mouths out with Clorox.”

To my surprise, the twins flounced off the bed. All four of my sisters marched out and down the hall to the kitchen without another word. I went out the front door, locked it, and put the spare key to the deadbolt in my pocket. There was no other set of keys in the house to that door, so if they wanted to open it again, they’d have to wait until Mamá came home or jump out a window.

The thought had barely entered my mind when I heard the unmistakable sound of a window being slid open. I turned around to look at the darkened house. The only light was in Pita’s room, which faced the front.

“You can’t back out of this! We out-vote you four to one!” Juanita screamed, her body halfway out the window.

I lifted my hand in the air, my index finger extended. “Rule Number One of the code of the cinco hermanitas: The eldest sister has the final word. Always. Good night.”

I left the yard, closing the gate behind me noisily, so they could hear me leaving even in the moonless night. Then I walked resolutely up the sidewalk toward Brazos Street. The thought of them escaping through a window made me cringe. I froze momentarily before I reached the corner, but then I realized they wouldn’t do that. They might be wild, but they depended on me for everything. If I wasn’t in on it, it usually didn’t fly. That was the beauty of following the code of the five little sisters. We really did do everything together.

Of course, Odilia’s sisters do win out in the end, and the girls end up on a road trip to Mexico, guided by La Llorona, the legendary Wailing Woman. On the way home, the sisters must overcome their tendency to bicker, join together, and defeat the magical forces of evil they meet—a witch and her Evil Trinity of monsters—so they can return home.

Stay tuned for more sneak peeks and excerpts from Summer of the Mariposas, and check out a great new interview with Guadalupe Garcia McCall on growing up bilingual and between cultures. And if you haven’t yet read Under the Mesquite, what are you waiting for?

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