Posts Tagged Washington D.C.

Cover Reveal for WELCOME TO WASHINGTON, FINA MENDOZA, by Kitty Felde

Today we’re thrilled to host Kitty Felde’s cover reveal for her upcoming debut novel, WELCOME TO WASHINGTON, FINA MENDOZA. (Black Rose Writing)

Here’s Kitty to tell us about her book:

WELCOME TO WASHINGTON, FINA MENDOZA grew out of more than half a dozen years covering Congress for Southern California Public Radio. I took all those stories about life in Washington and turned them into my first middle-grade mystery.

It paints members of Congress as real people with real families, as well as petty party differences, a sense of formality from another century, and even dogs who wander the hallways as if they were the ones elected last November. These were all the stories I used to tell at dinner parties to try to explain DC to folks outside the beltway. My hope is that this middle-grade mystery will help explain how Congress works – and these days doesn’t seem to work – as it tackles the nation’s problems.

I also wanted to create a book where the characters are from Southern California – a rarity in middle-grade fiction. Fina sees DC through that West Coast lens, noting the oddities of Capitol Hill and missing her life back in Los Angeles.

Fina was inspired by the young woman I mentored for many years: smart, fearless, but a little bit shy. My real-life Fina even lent her name for the character.

What’s the story about?

Legend has it that whoever sees the Demond Cat of Capitol Hill is cursed.

And now, Fina Mendoza, the daughter of a congressman, has seen this cat. Which might explain the string of disasters in her life, including exploding jars of spaghetti sauce and he beloved Abuelita breaking her leg. The only way for Fina to save her family from future “cat”astrophes is to solve the mystery of the  Demon Cat of Capitol Hill.

And now that your appetite is whetted, ta-da…….Here’s the cover!

Illustrator: Imelda Hinojosa

More from Kitty:

I had the happy opportunity to work with the perfect illustrator. Imelda Hinojosa, another Southern California girl. She captured the Fina of my imagination. She also captured the menace and capriciousness of the Demon Cat. I love how she positioned the cat swiping at the U.S. Capitol with its paw. I also think she’s created the perfect Senator Something, the orange furry goofball of a dog who becomes Fina’s first friend in DC. Imelda “got” this book – its heart and humor, but also the basic plot.

About Author Kitty Felde:

Public radio veteran Kitty Felde hosts the award-winning Book Club for Kids podcast – named one of the top 10 kidcasts in the world by “The Times of London.” She also writes plays that are performed worldwide. She fell in love with literature for young readers when she was a young reader herself, working at her local public library. Kitty looked for the Demon Cat while covering Congress for public radio. She found the paw prints, but not the cat.

You can find out more about Kitty here:

WELCOME TO WASHINGTON, FINA MENDOZA is available February 28, published by Black Rose Writing.

We’re thrilled that we could host Kitty’s cover reveal and wish her the best of luck with WELCOME TO WASHINGTON, FINA MENDOZA. Even better–we get to offer one lucky winner a free copy of an ARC to this fun book. Enter our RaffleCopter below — and good luck!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Indie Spotlight

Our Indie Spotlight shines today on Barstons Child’s Play, in McLean, Virginia.

The combination toy/bookstore actually has four locations in the Washington, D.C. metro area, and has been around for about 30 years.  MUF spoke to the whole team responsible for curating their wonderful book collection: Molly Olivo (Book Buyer for all 4 stores), Sara Hemming (McLean Book Manager), Bregette Poore (McLean Store Manager), and Steven and Simmie Aarons (Owners/Founders).

MUF: What does your bookstore (within a toy store) offer that makes you a special place to for readers to go buy books?

As a company, we are big believers in the importance of finding the joy in childhood reading (and play).  We pride ourselves on finding the right book for every child and building relationships with our customers. We focus our attention on the kid reader- what they find interesting and what they want out of their reading experience.  If we can spark a love of reading in a child with a book picked especially for them, we have completed the most important step in creating a lifelong reader.  We have worked hard to create a book store that is solely for the kids.

– Molly Olivo

We are able to capture a unique audience of kids that includes avid readers and kids who might never step into a more traditional book store. It is a real joy to see both sides of the store evolve and grow with our customers.

– Simmie Aarons

MUF: What’s your favorite part about this job?

The kids! Being able to discuss Ron Weasley with a 10 year old who just finished Harry Potter or discovering a giggling 6 year old with their head stuck in the Day the Crayons Quit is incredibly rewarding.

– Molly Olivo

Talking to the kids every day makes the job not feel like work. The real reward for me, however, is having a child that we almost lost as a reader come in for their second or third book that week. It sometimes takes setting aside all projects for the day and sitting with a child, reading the first page of stacks of books to find the one that ignites the spark. Not every child will love reading every book, but our goal is to get every child to love reading.

-Bregette Poore

MUF: What are your strategies for competing with big bookstores and online retailers?

Big bookstores and online retailers can never give you the indie experience.  We are providing customers with high quality service, staff that care about their kids, and individualized recommendations that have nothing to do with publisher marketing budgets or algorithms.  At the end of the day, our passion for books and kids has helped to set us apart, and we hope that our customers continue to value that and keep coming back.

– Molly Olivo

MUF: One of the many things to love about your store is the obvious care you take with making books look interesting. Browsing is so much fun here!

One of our favorite features is that we’re always changing the department and displays. One of the considerations in our displays is representation and diversity. We had a kindergarten teacher come in whose student was not engaged in reading because none of the stories were about anyone like her. She was shocked at how many options we had to build up her classroom library. We sometimes forget the importance of representation until you hear a kid exclaim, “Finally! Someone who looks like me!” when picking up a book. Every year I’m surprised by the emotional response to our Black History and Women’s History month displays when we think that is the bare minimum for a bookstore to cover.  We were also proud to promote the Children’s Book Council’s Reading Without Walls Challenge last year that awarded children for reading outside their comfort zone.

– Sara Hemming

MUF: Another fabulous new feature is the “blind date with a book”— books already wrapped up with just a few clues about what’s inside. What fun, to guess what’s inside the packaging and then get to read it!!

MUF: As middle grade authors, we’re always curious to know what titles, new or old, fiction or nonfiction, you find yourself recommending the most to readers ages 8-12? Which books seem to be flying off the shelves right now – on that same age range?

Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid has been one of our favorites recently.  Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis work so incredibly well together, and it is such a fun adventure with something for everyone.  

Timeless: Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic from Armand Baltazar is really fun and unique. 

Graphic novels have also been super hot recently.  Amulet and Nimona are always favorites at Child’s Play.

One of our favorite underappreciated backlist titles is The Seventh Most Important Thing, by Shelly Pearsall.  It is empathetic, surprising, and incredibly interesting. It also has the added bonus of being set in DC and based on a piece of art that is at the Smithsonian.


MUF: We’re so glad to get to know you all. Congratulations on your continued success and huge thanks for being such a strong supporter of books and kids.