Libros for All Kids

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Hola! This is a guest post by Cuban American author, Meg Medina, as part of the Latinas for Latino Lit 2nd annual Día Blog Hop, which we’re proudly participating in for the second year in a row. Check it out! (And then check out the other L4LL’s Día Blog Hop posts from other Latino/a children’s and YA authors.)

Libros for All Kids

A guest post by: Meg Medina

Something happened to me recently at the National Latino Children’s Literature Conference that gave me a glimmer of hope against the dismal  – and now familiar – news that we are still publishing too few kids’ books that feature Latino characters.  

I had been asked to talk about my young adult novel, YAQUI DELGADO WANTS TO KICK YOUR ASS.  It earned the Pura Belpré medal and the CYBILS Fiction Award, among other nice distinctions, and it was one of the measly two percent of children’s books by or about Latinos that was published last year.

If you’re unfamiliar, my novel is set in Queens, New York, and is the story of 16 year-old Piedad Sanchez who finds herself in the cross-hairs of a school bully.

After my talk, a librarian named Erica came to find me. It’s always such an honor when someone tells you they connected with your story. But I was especially happy to hear from her. She grew up in suburban Wisconsin with all brothers. There were no Latinos to speak of in her world.

“I read your book and I thought, oh my God, that’s my story.”

I could have kissed her whole face.

She’s right, of course. It is her story. It’s her story exactly the way Charlotte’s Web once felt like my story as a kid, even though I’d never seen a live pig and I lived two-hundred miles from the nearest farm in New York.

It’s no secret that I write stories that feature Latino kids and their families – the whole glorious ajiaco that I grew up with and that shaped how I move through the world.

But I do not write stories only for Latino kids. I write books for all kids about the universal problems of growing up. You remember that horror, don’t you? The frustrations with your family? Being betrayed by peers? Falling in love with creeps? To me, it doesn’t matter if a girl is named Fern or Piedad. What really matters is that her story is told with honesty and compassion.

When I think of books and what we want reflected in them, I say that it’s wise to cast a wide net. All kids benefit from stories that not only affirm their own experience but that also that allow them a peek at those same experiences through a slightly different lens. The magic of such books is in that beautiful spot where the unique and the universal hold hands like good and faithful friends.

meg-medinaMeg Medina is an award-winning Cuban American author who writes picture books, middle grade, and YA fiction. The first American citizen in her family, Meg was raised in Queens, New York by her mother – and a clan of tios, primos, and abuelos who arrived from Cuba over the years. She was the fortunate victim of their storytelling, and credits them with her passion for tales.

Meg’s work examines how cultures intersect through the eyes of young people, and she brings to audiences stories that speak to both what is unique in Latino culture and to the qualities that are universal. Her favorite protagonists are strong girls.

Her books are: MILAGROS GIRL FROM AWAY; TIA ISA WANTS A CAR, for which she earned the 2012 Ezra Jack Keats New Writers Award; THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND, a 2012 Bank Street Best Books; and YAQUI DELGADO WANTS TO KICK YOUR ASS, which was the winner of the 2014 Pura Belpré Medal, which is presented annually by the American Library Association to a Latino writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.

When she is not writing, Meg works on community projects that support girls, Latino youth and/or literacy. She lives with her extended family in Richmond, Virginia.

Follow Meg’s blog at www.megmedina.com

Connect with Meg on Facebook and Twitter

Pararse a oler las rosas

flores

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Ayer estuve muy ocupada. Encima de mi trabajo normal, tuve que llevar a mi hijo mayor a una cita y hacer unos mandados. Admito que cuando mi día es interrumpido por un montón de correteos por aquí y por allá, me pongo un poco molesta. Es que necesito mi dosis diaria de tiempo, para estar solita y en silencio, para pensar y recargar las energías.

Así que cuando fui a comprar unas cosas que necesitaba en Lowe’s, no pude resistir la tentación de ir al Centro de Jardinería para literalmente “pararme a oler las rosas” como decimos en inglés.

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Mientras que olía (y fotografiaba) las flores, me preguntaba si hay un dicho similar en español que signifique “Tómese el tiempo para apreciar las pequeñas cosas lindas de su día.” Le pregunté a Carlos y a algunas de mis amigas, pero nadie sabía de un buen dicho con el mismo significado. ¿Sabes uno?

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Yesterday I was really busy. On top of my regular work, I had to bring my older son to an appointment and run some errands. I admit that when my day is interrupted by a bunch of running around here and there, I get a little annoyed; it’s because I need my daily dose of quiet time alone to think and recharge that I feel that way.

So when I went to Lowe’s to buy a few things I needed, I couldn’t resist going to the Garden Center and literally “stopping to smell the roses” as we say in English.

While I smelled (and photographed) the flowers, I wondered if there’s a similar saying in Spanish that means “take time to appreciate the beautiful little things in your day.” I asked Carlos and some friends but no one knew a good saying in Spanish with the same meaning. Do you know one?

Mi Cumple

felizcumple-note

Today is my birthday. Carlos whispered “Feliz cumpleaños, birthday girl,” to me before kissing me on the forehead and going to work. I smiled and went back to sleep. When I awoke, I found that little note you see above, and minutes later he texted me a video of Pedro Infante singing “Las Mañanitas.”

Honestly, I usually try to lay low on my birthday – the more quietly it passes, the better. Of course, my family and friends never let that happen. Upon opening my email this morning there were even more birthday wishes, and even my gringo family sends them in Spanish these days. My father sent me a birthday song from Dora the Explorer and my maternal grandmother sent me a mariachi e-greeting.

So, since it’s a losing battle, this year I’m choosing to embrace my birthday. After all, I’m 35 years old today, and it doesn’t feel half as bad as I thought it would. Turning thirty was semi-traumatic, so anything short of a complete emotional breakdown is progress worthy of being noted.

This time of year always comes with thoughts about what I haven’t yet achieved and the fact that I still don’t know for sure exactly where I’m going in life. Thirty-year-old-me freaked out about these exact thoughts, but thirty-five-year-old-me shrugs and says, “¿Y qué?” … It isn’t that I’m apathetic about my goals, but I’m more accepting of the fact that they won’t always happen on my timetable, and some of them won’t happen at all – That’s okay because there’s something else I discovered; in life you will achieve and experience things that you never even set out to achieve or experience in the first place, and more often than not, those are the things you’ll end up cherishing more than anything on your list of “things to accomplish.”

“Oye abre tus ojos, mira hacia arriba,
Disfruta las cosas buenas que tiene la vida,
Abre tus ojos mira hacia arriba,
Disfruta las cosas buenas que tiene la vida.

Un descanso en el camino, una botella de vino,
Un suspiro, una mirada, una alegre carcajada,
Una cara en el espejo, un amigo, un buen consejo,
Un viaje en barco velero aunque no llegues rimero,
Un caballito cerrero que no corra por dinero,
Un palmar, un riachuelo, un pedacito de cielo.

Mira bien alrededor y verás las cosas buenas,
Que la vida es un amor, olvídate de tus penas.
Oye abre tus ojos, mira hacia arriba,
Disfruta las cosas buenas que tiene la vida,
Abre tus ojos mira hacia arriba,
Disfruta las cosas buenas que tiene la vida.

Una playa, un cumpleaños,
Un buen recuerdo de antaño,
Un olor a yerbabuena, una conversación amena,
Un romance que ha nacido que te roba los sentidos,
Un parque lleno de niños, un bellísimo cariño,
Un lágrima, un momento que sea todo sentimiento,
Una música muy bella, un perfume, una estrella.

Mira bien alrededor y verás las cosas buenas,
Que la vida es un amor, olvídate de tus penas.

Oye abre tus ojos, mira hacia arriba,
Disfruta las cosas buenas que tiene la vida,
Abre tus ojos mira hacia arriba,
Disfruta las cosas buenas que tiene la vida.”

– “Oye Abre Tus Ojos” by Wilfrido Vargas

Calles de Tierra

Image source: Flickr user Mircea Turcan

Image source: Flickr user Mircea Turcan

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Descubrí un hermoso poema escrito por un poeta mexicano sobre la vida en la zona rural de México que quiero compartir. Aquí está:

Calles de Tierra

Nunca voy a olvidarme del rancho
siempre voy a sentirme orgulloso
como extraño sus calles de tierra
cuando bebíamos agua del pozo.

A las cuatro los gallos cantaban
a las cinco ladraban los perros
a las seis el molino da vueltas
y al trabajo van los jornaleros.

Un pedazo de tierra sembrado
Cuatro vacas, un puerco en engorda
Una yunta jalando el arado
y mi apa’ desgranando mazorca.

El comal con la leña del cerro
y mi abuela torteando a las siete
los frijoles hirviendo en la hoya
y mi abuelo afilando el machete.

Un sombrero viejo y maltratado
tres camisas y dos pantalones
los huaraches ya están desgastados
pero no me da vergüenza ser pobre.

Nunca voy a olvidarme del rancho
siempre voy a sentirme orgulloso
como extraño sus calles de tierra
y a las señoras con su rebozo.

Bueno, tengo una confesión. Esta “poema” es en realidad letras escritas por Espinoza Paz. Sé que algunas personas desprecian a Espinoza Paz. Algunas personas lo llaman “naco” y no ven su valor, pero yo quería demostrar que cuando uno lee estas letras como un poema de un poeta anónimo, se puede ver la hermosura de las palabras; uno puede ver que hay corazón y talento detrás de las palabras. Esta es una lección, espero, en no juzgar basada en la superficie de las cosas; mejor buscamos más profundo e intentar una perspectiva diferente.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

I found a beautiful poem written by a Mexican poet about life in rural Mexico I want to share. Here is my translation of the poem to English (which doesn’t do it justice):

Dirt Roads


I’ll never forget the ranch,
I will always be proud,
How I miss its dirt roads,
When we would drink water from the well.

At four o’clock the roosters crowed,
At five the dogs barked,
At six the mill spins,
and the laborers go to work.

A piece of land sown,
Four cows, a pig being fattened,
Oxen pulling a plow,
And my father threshing corn.

The griddle with the firewood from the hill,
My grandmother making tortillas at 7 o’clock,
The beans boiling in the pot,
And my grandfather sharpening the machete.

A hat, old and battered,
Three shirts and two pants,
Sandals that are already worn out,
but I’m not ashamed to be poor.

I’ll never forget the ranch,
I will always be proud,
How I miss its dirt roads,
And the ladies with their ​​shawls.

Okay, I have a confession. This “poem” is actually lyrics written by Espinoza Paz. I know some people look down on Espinoza Paz. Some people call him “naco” and don’t see his value, but I wanted to show that when one reads these lyrics as a poem by an anonymous poet, you can see how beautiful the words are; one can see that there is heart and talent behind the words. This is a lesson, I hope, not to judge based on surface things; we should instead look deeper and try a different perspective.

5 Lecciones de Chico

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Tener un perro como mascota es una cosa bella por muchas razónes, pero una de ellas es que tienes la oportunidad de aprender muchas lecciones, y las lecciones son mucho más profundas que puedes imaginar. Aquí hay cinco lecciones que he aprendido de mi perro, Chico.

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LECCIÓN 1: Mientras que el ejercicio diario es necesario, es igual de necesario dormir y descansar.

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LECCIÓN 2: Sé tú mismo, no importa lo extraño que eres.

chicotamal

LECCIÓN 3: Ten metas. Llegará unos y a otros no, eso está bien, pero nunca sabrás si no lo intentas.

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LECCIÓN 4: Pasa tiempo con las personas que amas … (incluso si está viendo a Chavito del 8 y eso no es lo que quieres hacer.)

chicosunnydays

LECCIÓN 5: Apreciar las cosas pequeñas, como un parche perfecto de la luz del sol, y disfrútalas al máximo sin preocuparte por el pasado o el futuro. Este momento es lo único que está garantizado.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Having a dog as a pet is a beautiful thing for many reasons, but one of them is that you have the opportunity to learn many lessons, and the lessons are much more profound than you can imagine. Here are five lessons I’ve learned from my dog, Chico.

LESSON 1: While daily exercise is necessary, it’s equally necessary to sleep and rest.
LESSON 2: Be yourself, no matter how weird you are.
LESSON 3: Have goals. You’ll reach some, others you won’t, this is okay, but you’ll never know if you don’t try.
LESSON 4: Spend time with the people you love, (even if they’re watching Chavito del 8 and that isn’t what you want to do.)
LESSON 5: Appreciate the little things, like a perfect patch of sunlight, and enjoy them to the fullest without worrying about the past or future. This moment is the only one that is guaranteed.

10 Vídeos Inspiradores

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. English translation is in italics!

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Ya saben que me encanta buscar vídeos interesantes y divertidos en YouTube, pero aquí hay unos vídeos que encontré recientemente que me inspiran y quiero compartir los con ustedes. Hay algo para todos. Disfruten!

You guys already know that I love finding interesting and amusing videos on YouTube, but here are some videos I found recently that inspire me and that I want to share with you. There’s something for everyone. Enjoy!

#1. Este video se llama “Neymar humillado por peruano” pero no creo que fue humillado Neymar. Es sólo diversión amigable, y “el peruano” es muy talentoso.

This video is called “Neymar humiliated by a Peruvian” but I don’t think he was humiliated. It’s all in good fun, and “the Peruvian” is very talented.

#2. “A Shop in El Salvador Feb. 2013” – Qué lindo el sonido de estas flautas, tocadas por un tendero en El Salvador.

How beautiful the sound of these flutes, played by a shopkeeper in El Salvador.

#3. “El tortillero de San Marcos, El Salvador” – Me encanta esta video de un tortillero en El Salvador. (¡Sí! Un hombre que puede hacer tortillas – su historia es muy interesante.)

I love this video of a male tortilla maker in El Salvador. (Yes! A man who can make tortillas – his story is really interesting.)

#4. “The Two Sides of Playa El Tunco, El Salvador” – Este video muestra los dos lados de la Playa El Tunco – la vida de turistas que disfrutan de la playa y la vida de la gente humilde que vive allá.

This video shows the two sides of Playa El Tunco – the lives of tourists who enjoy the beach and the the lives of the humble people who live there.

#5. “Calle 13 – La Vuelta al Mundo” – Super linda canción, linda letra, lindo vídeo y lindo el mensaje. Me encanta Calle 13.

Super nice song, nice lyrics, nice video, nice message. I love Calle 13.

#6. “Niña de 6 años cocinando – Ana Victoria” – Me encanta que puede cocinar este niñita y que está practicando su español con su mami. (Gracias a Trisha Ruth por compartir el vídeo conmigo.)

I love that this little girl can cook and is practicing her Spanish with her mother. (Thanks to Trisha Ruth for sharing this video with me.)

#7. “Lazaro Arbos Auditions – American Idol Season 12” – Este muchacho se llama Lazaro Arbos. Lazaro es un inmigrante Cubano y a pesar de que tiene un tartamudeo, no afecta su capacidad de cantar en American Idol.

This young man is named Lazaro Arbos. Lazaro is a Cuban immigrant and despite having a stutter, it does not affect his ability to sing on American Idol.

#8. “Corto Niños Vallenatos” – ¡Talentosos esos niños que tocan música en Colombia!

These kids who play music in Colombia are so talented!

#9. “El Cajero de la felicidad” – A veces las empresas grandes pueden tener un gran impacto en una forma significativa.

Sometimes big companies can make a big impact in a meaningful way.

#10. “Cumpleaños de una habitante de la calle en el centro de Bogotá” – La señora vive en la calle, pero no importa – es su cumpleaños y un joven insiste que lo celebre.

The woman lives on the street, but it doesn’t matter – it’s her birthday and a young man insists that she celebrates.

¿Cuál vídeo te gusto más? Por qué? … Which video did you like most? Why?

En Transición

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Image source: Amir Kuckovic

Image source: Amir Kuckovic

¿Qué significa “transición”?

Según dictionary.com, “transición” se define como “movimiento, pasaje, o el cambio de una posición” – también, “el período de tiempo durante que algo cambia de un estado o etapa a otra.”

O sea, “transición” es una buenísima palabra por describir el estado en que me encuentro.

Todavia no sé exactamente cuales cambios busco, y cuales van a suceder, pero yo sé que necesito menos tiempo en frente de esta pantalla, menos tiempo sentada, menos tiempo gastado en cosas que no valen.

Yo sé que necesito mucho tiempo por pensar, escribir, mover, estar con mi familia, observando personas reales y las maravillas del mundo natural. Necesito comer comida sana, beber más agua, dormir más, leer los libros que están acumulando polvo iguál que mi.

Estas no son resoluciones del Año Nuevo, son necesidades – cosas que mi alma me estaba pidiendo hace mucho tiempo.

Un cambio que ya hice fue a la página “about” aquí en Latinaish.com. Espero que les guste.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

What does “transition” mean?

According to dictionary.com, “transition” is defined as “movement, passage, or a change of position” – also, “the period of time during which something changes from one state or stage to another.”

In other words, “transition” is a very good word to describe the state in which I find myself.

I still do not know exactly what I’m looking to change, and what will happen, but I know I need less time in front of this screen, less time sitting, less time spent on things that are not worth it.

I know I need a lot of time to think, write, move, be with my family, watching real people and the wonders of the natural world. I need to eat healthy food, drink more water, sleep more, read books that are gathering dust like me.

These are not New Year’s resolutions – these are needs – things that my soul has been asking me for for a long time.

One change I’ve already made is to the “about” page here on Latinaish. I hope you like it.