Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Interview with Author/Illustrator Mara Price

Hola Mara, tell us about Grandma's Chocolate/ El Chocolate de abuelita.

This story is about a great relationship between a girl named Sabrina and her grandmother who comes to visit from Mexico with a suitcase full of gifts. In the suitcase she has ribbons, a whistle in the shape of a dove and delicious chocolate.  These gifts that Grandma brings makes Sabrina feel like a Mayan Princess.

What was your inspiration to write this book?

There are several inspirations. The most important is my wish to write for Latino children.  I set out to write a story that was fun, but at the same time made the readers proud of their roots.  I hope that the story inspires children and parents to be curious about the magnificent Olmec, Maya and Aztec cultures that were the first to make this delicious drink:  chocolate.  The taste and smell of chocolate remind me of happy moments in my own grandmother’s kitchen.  This also inspired me to write this book. 

Congratulations Mara for all your awards for Grandma's Chocolate/ El chocolate de Abuelita. How do you feel about those amazing awards?

Thanks, René.  It has been a wonderful surprise to me and I am very appreciative of the recognition that this book has received.  It has motivated me in large measure to give presentations in libraries, schools and museums.

Are there any secrets/surprises during the book making of this book that you would like to share with us?

I was surprised that in my research I never found a specific recipe for preparing chocolate.  A great deal is known about chocolate and its use in rituals.  It was part of important celebrations like weddings, births and funerals.  The medicinal use of chocolate is mentioned.  We know about the ingredients used and that it was drunk hot, cold, and even over snow. Clay vessels have been found with the glyph for chocolate on them.  In short, there were a variety of ways to prepare it, but no specific ancient recipes have been found.

How are your readers reacting to the book?          

I am very pleased with the positive reaction to the book, especially from children when they come up after a presentation to thank me and ask questions.

What is your advice on writing for La Bloga readers?
  • Read as much as you can.
  • Write because you like writing if it gives you joy.
  • Be a good listener.  Observe people.  If they are children, listen to the way they talk and use their expressions.
  • Keep the age of the reader in consideration.  In my case, I am writing for children but I know that adults will be reading the story so I try to make characters appealing.
  • Use the same voice of your characters through the whole story.
  • In Grandma’s Chocolate, the voice of Sabrina is young and curious.  Grandma’s voice is older and knowledgeable, following the oral tradition that is part of my heritage.
  • Read your stories out loud.   If possible have a specific time to write.  Recently I discovered that writing after a walk does wonders to clear your mind for writing.  I am more relaxed and my brain is oxygenated. 
Mara Price is an award-winning author and illustrator of children’s books. Mara wrote the bilingual picture book, Grandma's Chocolate/El chocolate de Abuelita, published by Arte Público Press/Piñata Books.  Grandma’s Chocolate received the 2011 International Latino Book Award for Best Bilingual Children’s Picture Book, the 2011 San Diego Book Awards Best Children’s Picture Book, and the Paterson Prize for Books for Young People, Special Recognition.  Grandma's Chocolate is also a Tejas Star Book Award Finalist for 2011-2012. Mara is named among the  2011 Top Ten New Latino Authors to Watch.

Mara's articles, stories and illustrations have appeared in Iguana magazine for children in Spanish since 2004.  She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and contributes to the local chapter's newsletter.  She was one of the founders of Los Bloguitos, a Spanish-language blog for children.  Mara was awarded a scholarship to the Chautauqua Writer's Workshop in 2008.  She is an alumna of the National Latino Writers Conference.  She has taught art workshops at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach and she gives presentations at schools, libraries, book fairs and education conferences.  Her stories feature Latino children living in a multicultural society, but these experiences can be applied to all young people as she reminds everyone to be proud of their roots. Most of all, Mara invites children to have fun reading her stories! Originally from Mexico, she now resides in Southern California.
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1 comment:

msedano said...

I suppose if little girls must be taught that monarchism is a wonderful thing, being a Maya princess who drinks chocolate can be acceptable.