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The Latinx Kidlit Book Festival

We Need Diverse MG

Artwork by Aixa Perz-Prado

Here at WE NEED DIVERSE MG, we are super excited about the Latinx Kidlit Book Festival coming up in less than two weeks. The virtual festival runs from December 4 to 5, 2020, and was created by a collective of women and non-binary Latinx kdilit writers called Las Musas.  Many of us know Las Musas for their support of aspiring Latinx creators and for their beautiful books.

Who Will Be There?

I was lucky to be able to talk to Mayra Cuevas, Ismee Williams and Alex Villasante who headed up the Latinx Kidlit Book Festival steering committee.

latinx organizers

APP: Congratulations on the exciting Latinx Kidlit Book Festival! Can you tell me about some of what we can expect at the online event?

MAYRA: We have an incredible lineup! Over 150 authors and illustrators representing a wide and diverse range of experiences and ties to Latin America. Their work includes picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, graphic novels, comic books and poetry. We wanted the panel topics to cover themes that are important to the Latinx community in a way that is accessible to everyone.

ALEX: We have amazing, award-winning Middle Grade authors in our lineup, like National Book Award-finalist Ibi Zoboi, author of MY LIFE AS AN ICE CREAM SANDWICH. We also have Meg Medina, author of Newbery Award winner, MERCI SUÁREZ CHANGES GEARS. And Rebecca Barcárcel, author of the Pura Belpré Honor Book, THE OTHER HALF OF HAPPY. Other notable MG authors include Margarita Engle, Monica Brown, Lilliam Rivera, Daniel José Older and Yamile Saied Méndez—just to name a few!

ISMEE: We also will have interactive events, including a poetry slam, illustrator draw off’s, a graphic novel/cartooning panel including Raúl the Third and Axur Eneas. And even a few music and dance interludes.

Coming Together to Celebrate Latinx Creators

APP: That sounds like so much fun! I am a huge fan of many of those authors and look forward to getting to know more of them through the festival. I know that so many Latinx creators are eagerly anticipating this event. Can you tell me what sparked the idea for the festival?

MAYRA: Both Ismee and I have books that came out early in the pandemic. We quickly had to pivot to all virtual events. In May we were invited to participate at the Everywhere Book Festival, led by three amazing authors, Christina Soontornvat, Ellen Oh and Melanie Conklin. We wondered what it would be like to have a similar event for the Latinx community. We wanted to create a space where book lovers everywhere could come together to celebrate Latinx authors, illustrators and their books. Thanks to the help of Las Musas Books members, dozens of volunteers, sponsors and community partners the dream quickly became a reality.

latinx festival coming soon

APP: It is truly incredible how quickly you were able to put this festival together, and in the midst of a pandemic! What was your vision for the project, and what challenges did you face?

ISMEE: We created the Latinx Kidlit Book Festival because we want to give back to those who have been hard hit by the pandemic: students, educators and parents. We want to give the gift of story and art to any child and family who is able to tune in–and not just Latinx families but all families. We hope to provide a virtual field trip experience for classrooms, with programming that spans from pre-K through 12th grade, including picture books, middle grade, graphic novels, poetry and young adult.

Resources for Teachers and Students

latinx student teacher graphic

APP: That sounds great! I hope many teachers are able to take advantage of everything the Latinx Kidlit Book Festival has to offer. Tell me about your resources for educators.

ISMEE: Educator guides for specific festival books are located on our website for easy access and download under the Educator Tab. We also created, with the help of wonderful volunteers, two festival educator guides, one for elementary and one for secondary school students. These Latinx Kidlit Book Festival Educator Guides will allow teachers to bring the festival into the classroom so students may learn about festival authors, illustrators and their works.

We also have a number of author and illustrator Flipgrid introduction videos available to assist students. Answer questions are found in the educator guides. Finally, we are encouraging all students to submit their own questions for our festival participants ahead of time. We want kids and teens to feel engaged and to know that we value them and their own creativity and curiosity! To make it even more exciting, we are offering book giveaways (a huge thank you goes out to all the publishers who generously have donated cartons of books)! If a student’s question is selected for use in the festival, that student will be entered into a drawing to win a set of books for their entire classroom. Winners will be announced during the festival, so be sure to tune in!

Latinx Kidlit Festival Partners and Sponsors

call for kids questions

APP: That really sounds like a lot of fun for the kids! What about your partners and sponsors? How have they contributed to this project?

ALEX: With the Latinx Kidlit Book Festival we wanted to create a network of support in the community. We knew that some would be able to support us financially and some would not.

A Community Partner, like Miami Book Fair, The Highlights Foundation or Latinx In Kidlit, can use their social media reach to get our message to as many readers, educators and kids as possible. They also help by giving us a team of amazing volunteers who work so hard to help us get everything in place.

We’re 100% volunteer run, so that’s a huge benefit! Sponsors, like Penguin, Harper Collins, and Macmillan play a very special role. Their financial support helps fund tools for the festival, like professional producers and real-time transcription and captioning. We’re also so fortunate to have sponsors like SCBWI and NCTE – organizations that support writers and educators and see the value of putting capital behind Latinx creators. Because, at the end of the day, supporting this festival sends a message of solidarity with the Latinx community and marginalized voices. It says—loud and muy claro—Latinx creators, books and art are worthy of investment.

Success and Suerte

APP: Clarisimo! Beyond the obvious,  what are your hopes for the festival? What does success look like?

MAYRA: We want kids, educators and book lovers everywhere to come together to celebrate the voice and talent of Latinx authors and illustrators. Ultimately, we want to create an infinite bookshelf for our community, in which there is room for countless stories. We want stories that portray the complexities of our world, and illuminate profound moments of loss and grief. We also want stories that celebrate the love and joy in all the things we hold dear.

ISMEE: We want to showcase the beauty in the wide diversity of Latinx identities that encompasses multiple races, traditions, and countries of origin. We also want to emphasize that Latinx stories are not just for the Latinx community. A good story speaks to the larger human experience and will resonate with readers no matter their backgrounds. I see this festival as an opportunity not only for the Latinx kidlit book community to come together but for all lovers of kidlit to join in the celebration of story and diversity and life.

Latinx Kidlit Book Festival

APP: I couldn’t agree with your more. Representation matters and the wide diversity of what it means to be Latinx is keenly felt by so many of us. I know that as a young Latinx immigrant from Argentina, I certainly searched for someone like me in my books. Unfortunately, I was never able to find characters that represented my experience. I am so happy that little Latinxers today are able to see more of themselves and their families in children’s literature! Thank you so much for sharing this event with us and we hope that many of our readers will be in attendance.

And now, how about a giveaway? The Latinx Kidlit Book Festival organizers have kindly donated some awesome giveaways! Like, retweet and follow @LatinxKidLitBF and @MIxedUpFiles on twitter for a chance to win! Two winners will be chosen, US only, please.

Prizes: A copy of The Other Half of Happy by Rebecca Balcárcel & Into the Tall, Tall Grass by Loriel Ryon!

Suerte!

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Giveaways & Interview with Author Lindsay H. Metcalf

I’d like to welcome Lindsay H. Metcalf to the Mixed-Up Files blog to celebrate the launch of her MG, Farmers Unite! Planting a Protest for Fair Prices.

Photo credit: Anna Jackson

Credit: Anna Jackson

Lindsay H. Metcalf is a journalist and author of nonfiction picture books: Beatrix Potter, Scientist, illustrated by Junyi Wu (Albert Whitman & Company, 2020); Farmers Unite! Planting a Protest for Fair Prices (Calkins Creek, 2020); and No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History, a poetry anthology co-edited by Lindsay H. Metcalf, Keila V. Dawson, and Jeanette Bradley, illustrated by Bradley (Charlesbridge, 2020). Lindsay lives in north-central Kansas, not far from the farm where she grew up, with her husband, two sons, and a variety of pets. You can reach her at lindsayhmetcalf.com.

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This is such an amazing, unique, and emotional story, Lindsay. I’ll never look at food the same way again. How did you come up with the idea for Farmers Unite! Planting a Protest for Fair Prices and did anything surprise you along path to publication?

Family combine at corn harvest

Family combine at corn harvest

Thank you! I suppose this is the story I was meant to write. I grew up on a farm in Kansas. During wheat harvest, my mom would drive a grain truck with me and my little brother fighting over who had to straddle the gear shift in the middle. We would chop weeds out of the soybean fields and lay irrigation pipe along the corn fields. I know I complained, but looking back, I see a family working together, leaning on one another.

The photo that sparked FARMERS UNITE! came via text from my dad:

Here I was, someone intimately connected to agriculture through my family, and I’d never heard the story of the farmers who had driven their tractors cross-country to Washington, DC, to demand action from Congress. They were losing their farms because market prices had bottomed out, and they needed to get the attention of the public, who relied on the farmers to eat.

A lot surprised me along the path to publication—namely how many forms this story took. During the course of my many revisions, everything changed, including the main character, length, target audience, tone, title, and illustration style. At its core, this story was always about a group of hardworking people coming together to seek a change that would improve their lives and the lives of those they served. It’s about a grassroots group of people working together, leaning on one another, just as my family does out in the field.

 

Wow! I love hearing about your connection to this story. I’m so glad your dad texted you that photo. It’s amazing how much changed during revisions, but now that I read it, I can’t imagine it any other way.  

What type of research did you have to do—and do you have any research tips to share with our readers?

You know I love research! I read everything I could find on the tractorcades. There was one self-published book on the topic, which helped me understand the timeline. I also conducted interviews myself, read oral histories transcribed by a small-town library, and scoured newspaper archives. Then, when Carolyn Yoder at Calkins Creek bought the story, I had to start the research process again. She had seen some dynamic archival photos of the tractor protests and thought they should illustrate the book. Oh, and she wanted me to find them. I found that idea intimidating, but by the end of the process, I was having fun.

During my research, I had to reconcile two opposing perspectives. On one hand, the newspaper stories and national photo archives focused on a handful of days in which the farmers’ protests on the National Mall turned sour. The American Agriculture Movement had driven thousands of tractors into DC during rush hour, snarling traffic. Police literally penned them in by ringing the Mall with buses, police cruisers—any city-owned vehicles they could find. Some of the protesters got upset and lit an old tractor on fire. What I learned from reading oral histories and actually talking to people was that the vast majority of protesters had come to speak with lawmakers and earn their respect. So my advice is to keep researching until you have a good idea of the full picture. Each source is created from a certain perspective, and it’s the researcher’s job to root out the gaps in information.

 

Thanks for your amazing tips, Lindsay! I feel like I just took a research workshop. And I love the tractor protest photos you found.

Do you have any favorite quotes in the book? One that jumped out at me is: These first “tractorcades” energized farmers for the next step—to remind lawmakers in Washington, DC, that food doesn’t grow in grocery stores.

Oh, thank you! Many of my favorite quotes came from the farmers themselves, so when Carolyn suggested I add more, I couldn’t help myself. Some advice that’s always stuck with me since journalism school: Quote someone only when you can’t say it better yourself. Behold…

“You bet we started crying in our milk.” – Marjory Scheufler, a Kansas farmer

“We’re going to stay here (in Washington) until the snow stops and the songbirds go to singing.” – Gerald McCathern, a Texas farmer

“It’s just as silly for a tractor to be in the streets of Washington as a skyscraper in my cornfield.” – Leonard Cox of Kansas

 

What are some of the differences between middle grade and picture book nonfiction?

This book is kind of a genre buster. Traditional middle grade nonfiction is sometimes novel-length and goes into a lot more detail. You’re going to laugh, but you know I wrote FARMERS UNITE! as a picture book for young readers because you critiqued it! After acquisition, Carolyn and I worked through a couple big revisions, and she encouraged me to make the story more “vivid.” I didn’t hold back and included details about tear gas and the fallout of financial troubles facing farmers. Those themes, plus the longer text, at 2,000 or 2,500 words, pushed the audience into middle-grade territory. We also included 12 pages of back matter.

 

You’re right—I did laugh. I was surprised when I first found out your picture book morphed into middle grade, but it was such a fantastic decision. Your book and discussion and activity guide are perfect for grades 3 – 7! In addition to those amazing questions and activities, do you have a writing or research exercise to share with our readers?

I do! I just created a handout for a National Council of Teachers of English presentation this month. With the questions provided in my “Detecting Bias in Sources” handout, students can test the credibility of each source and discover ways to deepen their research. These are techniques I use as a journalist as well as an author. Readers can also go to my website to browse some of the sources I used in the book — oral histories and images of the tractorcades from the Smithsonian.

 

What’s something unique people don’t know about you?

I was a cheerleader in high school. I surprised my mother-in-law with this fact when it came up in conversation today. I surprised myself with the realization that I had never told her this in the 17 years that I have known her. So there you go.

 

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?

This story went through 27 drafts, plus or minus a couple, before we arrived at the polished final version. I say we, because so many people had a hand in the process, including you, Mindy, as one of my critique partners. Say it with me: Writing is revising.

 

Writing is revising! You do such an amazing job with both of those—and you’re a research queen. Thank you again for stopping by the Mixed-Up Files to celebrate your launch with us, Lindsay.

Thanks for having me, and thanks for helping me bring the farmers’ story to young readers!

You’re welcome. I’m sure they’ll love the farmers’ story as much as I do!

 

Enter this Rafflecopter for a chance to win a copy of Farmers Unite! Planting a Protest for Fair Prices (US Only).

In the late 1970s, grain prices had tanked, farm auction notices filled newspapers, and people had forgotten that food didn’t grow in grocery stores. So, on February 5, 1979, thousands of tractors from all parts of the US flooded Washington, DC, in protest.

Author Lindsay H. Metcalf, a journalist who grew up on a family farm, shares this rarely told story of grassroots perseverance and economic justice. In 1979, US farmers traveled to Washington, DC to protest unfair prices for their products. Farmers wanted fair prices for their products and demanded action from Congress. After police corralled the tractors on the National Mall, the farmers and their tractors stayed through a snowstorm and dug out the city. Americans were now convinced they needed farmers, but the law took longer. Boldly told and highlighted with stunning archival images, this is the story of the struggle and triumph of the American farmer that still resonates today.
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Enter this Rafflecopter for a chance to win a 5 page middle grade or picture book critique from Lindsay H. Metcalf! (Lindsay’s critiques are amazing!)

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Winners will be announced on Thursday, November 19. Good luck!

Breaking the News Blog Tour Activity and Giveaway

 

Welcome to the Breaking the News Blog Tour!

To celebrate the release of Breaking the News by Robin Terry Brown on October 13th, blogs across the web are featuring original content from Breaking the News, plus 5 chances to win a hardcover copy!

Learn to Detect Phony Photos

by Robin Terry Brown

Technology has made it so easy to alter photos that it can be hard even for professionals to tell if a photo is real or fake. Some experts specialize in “photo forensics,” using special software to detect false photos. But you can use these simple tricks to tell if a photo D might be a fake: 1 Look at the shadows. The light should be on one side and the shadows should be on the other. And all of the shadows should be at the same angle. If the shadows look off, that’s a sign that something may have been altered. 2 Does someone’s head look too big, or is a person’s body positioned at a strange angle? That could be a sign that two images have been combined into one. 3 Does it look like anything in the photo has been duplicated, with the same image appearing more than once? 4 If a photo looks suspicious, try doing a reverse image search. The search will show you where else the image has appeared online. If it shows up with details that are different from the ones you are seeing, that’s a sign that the photo is doctored.
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Answers (highlight to reveal): [A. The same flower is repeated multiple times, and did you notice the duplicated clouds? 
B. This shot is missing shadows, and the people are too big in relation to the mountain. C. The fireworks are drawn in and seem to come out of the ground. Look closely, you’ll see mountains in the background. But this is Brandenburg Gate, located in Berlin, Germany—a big city that’s not near a mountain range.
D. These grizzly bears look “pasted” into the scene. They don’t look natural. 
E. This cuddly panda mother and cub sure are sweet, but they appear cut out and placed in this bamboo setting. 
F. Several duplicate groups of people are sitting on the grass.]

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Blog Tour Schedule:

November 2nd – Bookhounds

November 3rd – Word Spelunking

November 4th – Always in the Middle

November 5th – From the Mixed-Up Files

November 6th Feed Your Fiction Addiction

 

“Robin Terry Brown’s ‘Breaking the News,’ written in consultation with several journalism luminaries, is laid out the way magazines used to be, with captivating images, bite-size fact-filled blurbs and intuitive design. “Breaking the News” urges young people to leave their social media feeds and “read reliable news and information from many different sources.”
The New York Times
“[Breaking the News] provides a sharp-looking survey that examines the history of news-how it began, how it evolved, and what consumers of all ages must consider before accepting a truth as the truth. Cool bits of history, funny hoaxes, and the scary reality of propaganda are packed in simple bites easy to absorb. Excellent design and a clear narrative help readers navigate the vast and fast-changing concept of news.”
―Kirkus STARRED REVIEW
 

 

Visit the WebsiteRead an Excerpt

Educator Guide

Follow National Geographic Kids: Website | Twitter | Books Twitter | Facebook | Youtube
Headlines leap out at us from mobile phones, TV screens, computers, newspapers, and everywhere we turn. Technology has opened up exciting new ways to tell interesting stories, but how much of it is news … and how much is just noise? This refreshing and up-to-date media literacy book gives kids the tools they need to distinguish what is fact from what is fiction so that they can make smart choices about what to believe.
Topics cover a broad range, from defining freedom of speech, the journalists’ code of ethics, the dangers of propaganda, and the future of news.
Packed with profiles of influential journalists, fun facts, and iconic photographs, this ultimate guide to the information age will get kids thinking about their relationship and responsibility to media.

 

About the Author: ROBIN TERRY BROWN graduated from the master’s program at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism with a passion for writing, editing, and getting the facts straight. She carried this passion throughout her 17-year career as a senior editor with National Geographic. Brown currently lives with her husband in northern Virginia, where she works as a writer, editor, and truth-seeker.
SUSAN GOLDBERG, contributor, is an award-winning journalist, editorial director of National Geographic Partners, and editor in chief of National Geographic magazine. Prior to National Geographic, Goldberg was an executive editor at Bloomberg News in Washington, D.C. She has also held posts at several news organizations, including The Plain Dealer, San Jose Mercury News, USA Today, the Detroit Free Press, and Seattle Post-Intelligencer. In 2017, Washingtonian magazine named Goldberg one of Washington, D.C.’s most powerful women.
Follow Susan: Instagram | Twitter
GIVEAWAY
  • One (1) winner will receive a hardcover copy of Breaking the News
  • Check out the other four stops for more chances to win
  • US/Can only
  • Ends 11/15 at 11:59pm ET

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