Peruvian-American Dr. Monica Brown has already published 13 bilingual children’s books and won numerous awards, including the Americas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature, and she can now check another accomplishment off her list.
Brown, who is also a professor at Northern Arizona University — where she teaches works by Gabriel García Márquez and Isabel Allende — was invited to be a featured author at the prestigious 13th annual Library of Congress National Book Festival which will be held on the National Mall in Washington, DC on September 21 and 22.
“I’m so excited and starstruck — I’ve always wanted to be invited,” says Brown about the Festival — she went to the Library of Congress last year because her book about Pablo Neruda won the Americas Award. “…It makes me more proud to represent my community, and my work, and get the chance to share it with the thousands of children that come to the Festival..it’s an event like no other.”
The National Book Festival will be featuring the bilingual,“Tito Puente: King of Mambo,” published by HarperCollins earlier this year.
“My first book ever published was about Celia Cruz, and I partnered with the same illustrator,” says Brown, praising the colorful artwork of Rafael Lopez, who won the Pura Belpré Honor for Illustration.
The acclaimed children’s book author is also celebrating her new book on shelves this week, “Marisol McDonald and the Clash Bash” — the sequel to “Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match” — and she’s working on publishing the third in the series which she calls the most autobiographical of all of her work.
“I’m so excited about my new Marisol book — that original book was the hardest to get published, but it got the 2012 International Latino Book Award, a Pura Belpré Honor for Illustration and was voted a notable book by the ALSC,” says Brown who, like the fictional Marisol, grew up bicultural. “There’s a lot of pressure for kids to fit in and be popular, and I really hope my books affirm the hearts and minds of the children who don’t fit in one box, and I really want to celebrate the uniqueness of all children and let them know it’s okay to be yourself.”
The mother of two teenage girls, 14 and 15, Brown says her latest Marisol book talks about her birthday and turning 8, and similar to her own childhood, Marisol wanted to see her abuelita in Peru who she hadn’t seen in two years.
“That’s her wish, but there’s visas involved, money, and it reflects children today as well as my life growing up,” says Brown about her bilingual book, appropriate for toddlers through 8-years-old. “Illustrator Sara Palacios used a photo of my own mom as the inspiration for the abuelita in the book — she died three years ago.”
Next up in her repertoire, she says, will be a chapter book on a bicultural girl who loves to play soccer. Inspired by the upcoming World Cup perhaps?