Category Archives: Interviews with Authors and Illustrators

An Interview with Award-Winning YA Author Guadalupe García McCall

guadalupe garcia mccallAuthor Guadalupe García McCall’s debut Under the Mesquite came out seven years ago, but she has continued to take the young adult world by storm, going on to win the Pura Belpré Award for Under the Mesquite; winning multiple awards for her magical Mexican-American retelling of The OdysseySummer of the Mariposas; and earning wide acclaim for Shame the Stars, a retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet set during the Mexican Revolution.

Released this year, Guadalupe García McCall once again highlights a story that reflects her Mexican heritage and the rich history of Mexico with All the Stars Denied, a companion novel to Shame the Stars. We interviewed her to talk about this latest title as well as her writing process.  Continue reading

G. Neri on the Inspiration Behind Grand Theft Horse: “Gail’s a Superhero to Me”

This fall we released a new graphic novel by Coretta Scott King award-winning author G. Neri called Grand Theft Horse, which retells the life of his cousin Gail, a pioneer who challenged the horse racing world for the sake of one extraordinary horse. The graphicGrand Theft Horse novel has already received two starred reviews:

The graphic novel world isn’t full of true stories about nearly sixty-year-old, women of color who refuse to back down from wealthy, white men exploiting (and further corrupting) a corrupt system. Grand Theft Horse feels all the more timely and urgent because of it.” —Booklist starred review

Superb. Ruffu’s tenacity and the book’s satisfying conclusion will appeal to fans of John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell’s “March” trilogy.” —School Library Journal starred review

In this blog post, author G. Neri shares some of the inspiration behind his newest graphic novel.

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Authors Guadalupe García McCall and David Bowles on the Mexicanx Initiative at WorldCon

Each year, WorldCon (the World Science Fiction Convention) gathers fans and creators of science fiction and fantasy. Among many things that happen at WorldCon is the awarding of the Hugos, something like the Oscars for speculative fiction. The first convention took place in New York City in 1939, and every year after, it has been held in a different city, organized by volunteers. In 2018, Worldcon 76 was held in San Jose, California.

Now, the thing to remember is that people of color—especially Latinx folx—have been largely absent from WorldCon during its 76 years. But this year, one of the guests of honor was illustrator John Picacio, the first Mexican American to win a Hugo (and first to serve as MC). He wanted to make sure Mexicans and Mexican Americans would be there in significant numbers.

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Most of the Mexicanx Initiative takes the stage at the beginning of WorldCon.

So John founded the Mexicanx Initiative, at first intending to sponsor just a couple of key creators. But when he announced it, a dozen or so movers and shakers in the world of SF/F stepped up to contribute, and before long there was enough support to bring FIFTY Mexicanx writers, illustrators, megafans, etc. Guadalupe García McCall and David Bowles were invited to be part of this stellar group. They were placed on panels, brought into the spotlight, allowed to stand on the stage in solidarity with Dreamers and refugees.

It was a gamechanging moment.

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An Interview with Mary Louise Sanchez, Author of The Wind Called My Name

The Wind Called My NameToday we celebrate the release of The Wind Called My Name, the new middle grade historical fiction novel by Mary Louise Sanchez! Set in Wyoming during the Great Depression, The Wind Called My Name is a frontier novel told from a Latinx perspective, based on the author’s own family experiences. Here’s what critics and early readers have said:

The Wind Called My Name opens minds, warms the heart, and renews our faith in one another.” –Clare Vanderpool, Newbery Medal-winning author of Moon Over Manifest and Navigating Early

A hopeful historical story with a strong heroine.” —Booklist

A beautifully touching story of family, culture, and resiliency.” –Christina Diaz Gonzalez, author of The Red Umbrella and Moving Target Continue reading

Illustrator Ken Min Takes Us Behind the Art of Benji, the Bad Day, and Me

Released earlier this month, Benji, the Bad Day, and Me is about one of the rottenest, worst days that Sammy has ever had. His little brother, Benji, knows exactly what that’s like. In this tender story about siblings, author Sally J. Pla’s shares her experience of raising sons on different parts of the wide spectrum of neurodiversity. We asked illustrator Ken Min to take us behind the scenes of his art process bringing Benji, the Bad Day, and Me to life:
benji, the bad day, and me

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Interview: New Voices Award Winner Rita Lorraine Hubbard on Writing a Picture Book Biography

new voices award sealAt Lee & Low Books we are always interested in biographies of unsung heroes. Stories of lesser-known individuals who used their talents and overcame obstacles to achieve their dreams and serve their society fill our shelves of published titles. Each year our New Voices Award judges consider dozens of biographical submissions on the lookout for a winning combination of compelling characters and well-researched storytelling. In this blog post, we interviewed Rita Lorraine Hubbard, the 2012 New Voices Award winner, about her biography Hammering for Freedom: The William Lewis Story, which tells the story of William “Bill” Lewis, an enslaved man who earned enough money being a blacksmith and set a daring plan in motion: to free his family. Continue reading

Interview: Pat Mora and Raul Colón On Bookjoy and Wordjoy

As a children’s book publisher, we know how powerful and influential words are, which is why we’re so excited to have announced the release of our new title, Bookjoy, Wordjoy this month! Whether we are collecting words, reading favorite books in the library, celebrating holidays, writing poems, sharing secrets, or singing a jazzy duet, words and books can take us on wonderful adventures and bring us joy. Poet Pat Mora and illustrator Raul Colón, two of the biggest names in the Latinx children’s book world, have teamed up to bring bookjoy, the fun of reading, and wordjoy, the fun of listening to words, combining words, and playing with words, to readers everywhere. In a starred review from Booklist, this title was called a “joyous invitation to put pen (or paintbrush) to paper.”

We interviewed Pat Mora and Raul Colón on their favorite words, poetry, and their upcoming projects.bookjoy wordjoy Continue reading

Interview: David Bowles + Guadalupe García McCall on Translating a Novel Into Spanish

Six years ago, we released Summer of the Mariposas from our Tu Books imprint. Set in Texas, Summer of the Mariposas is a Mexican retelling of the Odyssey, but it’s also a celebration of sisterhood and maternal love. It went on to win numerous awards, including the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Finalist, Lone Star Reading List, and the Amelia Bloomer Project – Feminist Task Force.

Now, we’re excited to say that this beautiful story has been translated into Spanish! We’re releasing El verano de las mariposas this May, and it will be our first young adult novel to be translated into Spanish. We interviewed author Guadalupe García McCall and translator David Bowles on the translation process, what it was like working together, and their upcoming projects. Continue reading

Interview: Maya Christina Gonzalez on Honoring Francisco X. Alarcón and Family

family poems for every day of the weekReleased last fall from the Children’s Book Press imprint of LEE & LOW BOOKS, Family Poems for Every Day of the Week/Poemas familiares para cada día de la semana is a celebratory collection of poems that highlights the daily life of children every day of the week while also honoring the experiences of Latino poet Francisco X. Alarcón, who passed away in January 2016. We interviewed illustrator Maya Christina Gonzalez about the important role that family and friends play in Family Poems for Every Day of the Week and what the creative process was like:  Continue reading

Author Amy Lee-Tai on Connecting with Community

Last November, Amy Lee-Tai, author of A Place Where Sunflowers Grow, participated in a program called The Big Read, a program that exposes communities across the country to great works of literature and encourages them to read for pleasure and enrichment. Below is her blog post where she reflects on the experience: 
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