LEE & LOW BOOKS celebrates its 25th anniversary this year! To recognize how far the company has come, we are featuring one title a week to see how it is being used in classrooms today and hear from the authors and illustrators.
Today, we are celebrating the latest installment of our extremely popular Marisol McDonald series, Marisol McDonald and the Monster/Marisol McDonald y el monstruo. In this endearing bilingual story, Marisol confronts her greatest fear: monsters!
Featured title: Marisol McDonald and the Monster/Marisol McDonald y el monstruo
Author: Monica Brown
Illustrator: Sara Palacios
Synopsis: Marisol McDonald loves words that begin with the letter m—except the word monster. Monsters are scary, with big eyes, wild fur, pointy claws, and sharp teeth. One night, when Marisol hears loud bumps under her bed, she is immediately convinced that a monster is making the noise. Checking under the bed does not reveal a monster, but night after night, the bumps continue. When the bumps become especially loud one night, Marisol bravely leads the charge downstairs to find the cause. Turns out the monster making noise under Marisol’s bed does have eyes and fur and teeth, but it isn’t scary at all. It’s her dog, Kitty, playing ball against the kitchen wall.
In this interview, author Monica Brown shares her thoughts and inspiration behind creating a bicultural character and why she loves writing children’s books:
LEE & LOW: How did you originally become interested in writing children’s books?
Monica Brown: Well, first of all, I really love young children and not just their sweetness. I really admire the way young minds work—their capacity for imagination and joy and most importantly their sense of wonder and delight. I want to nurture and encourage that with my stories. I started writing after I had children of my own and they were picture-book age. I began with biographies when I looked around and couldn’t find the stories I wanted my daughters to read, the people I wanted them to know—Gabriela Mistral, Celia Cruz, Dolores Huerta, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, to name a few.
LEE & LOW: You’ve spoken about how the Marisol books are inspired by your own Peruvian-American heritage. Were there any scenes or moments inspired by a particular anecdote from your own childhood?
MB: Ninety percent of the book is inspired by my own childhood! I had many interesting, and sometimes painful, experiences growing up as the child of a South American mother and a North American father, and when I had my own children I began to think about how to tell the story of a little girl who is unique and sweet and who defies any attempts to limit her expression of self . . . and that is how Marisol McDonald was born!
LEE & LOW: Do you have any advice for young people growing up today in bicultural households, who may feel torn between cultures?
MB: I would tell them to embrace the complexity and beauty of their experiences, their many cultures. I would encourage them to not let others define them as “less than” or “half of” or in any way less “authentic.” Racial categories and blood quantum are tools of the colonizers, we would do best to reject them completely. I think the “tearing” between two cultures often come from outside forces, because our multicultural families have come together with love.
Resources for teaching with Marisol McDonald and the Monster/Marisol McDonald y el monstruo:
- Marisol McDonald and the Monster Teacher’s Guide
- Marisol McDonald y el monstruo Activities for Spanish Learners from Spanish Playground
Can’t get enough of Marisol McDonald? Then check out Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/Marisol McDonald no combina and Marisol McDonald and the Clash Bash/Marisol McDonald y la fiesta sin igual, the earlier installments of the Marisol McDonald series.
Have you used any of the Marisol books in your home or classroom? Let us know!
Celebrate with us! Check out our 25 Years Anniversary Collection.