Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Story Behind the Story- Grandma's Chocolate/ El chocolate de abuelita

Grandma's Chocolate Virtual Book Tour

Welcome to day 3 of Grandma's Chocolate Virtual Book Tour. You can be the lucky winner of a signed copy of this wonderful bilingual book. There must be at least four comments to select a winner, so it is very important to submit your comments.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, November 15
Grandma’s Chocolate/El chocolate de Abuelita Trailer
by Yuyi Morales

Tuesday, November 16
On Beyond Words & Pictures
Chocolate recipe and the importance of chocolate in Mesoamerica
by Megan Frances

Now get your hot chocolate and 
enjoy Mara's Story Behind the Story!

I grew up in Mexico, and drinking hot chocolate was a family tradition.  My abuelita and I used to walk every morning to buy milk and fresh pan de dulce.  At home we prepared hot chocolate.  I loved watching her pour it from cup to cup until it cooled to the right temperature with delicious foam on top.  We both savored the sweet mixture and took our time drinking it.  This memory was the impulse for Grandma’s Chocolate.

When I was still studying art and trying to launch a career in animation, a friend invited me to my first SCBWI meeting.  I was fascinated to observe people discussing how children’s picture books were made. When my daughter was little I used to read to her from books given to her by her grandparents, mostly in English but some in Spanish.  

I took a children’s book illustration class at Otis College of Art and Design taught by Dolores Johnson. Dolores’ class was an inspiration.  It is so easy to read a children’s book - it just takes a few minutes - but writing requires, time, planning and thinking.  This class thought me that children's stories need to be entertaining, the voice of the characters should be the same through the whole story, the character learns something at the end and changes in some way, and that it is best to write about the things you know and care about, and what you don’t know you must research.  More classes on illustration and writing followed.

Some of my first stories and illustrations were published by Iguana children’s magazine in Spanish (I am Bilingual, Pero No Me Ayudes Mas, The History of Animation).    Iguana has kindly been accepting my stories and drawings since its inception in 2005.  This magazine has been important in my career, and is itself a reminder of the value of conserving our language and culture. It is obvious that young children have a special capacity for easily learning language.  Bilingual books are an invaluable tool for helping parents instill both languages.

Grandma’s Chocolate came about as an exercise for a summer Chautauqua writer’s workshop.  It went through many revisions as I checked and rechecked the historical accuracy and polished the language. In my research it has been a joy to be able to read books in archaic Spanish as well as English.  It is helpful to be bilingual. I am not a mayanist, but I wanted to make sure that the cultural elements I wrote about in Grandma’s Chocolate were accurate to the best of my knowledge.  I looked for information in books and wherever I could find it.

I submitted the manuscript to Piñata Books/Arte Publico Press and it was accepted. Grandma’s Chocolate/El chocolate de Abuelita, is the story of a girl named Sabrina who learns about the ancient origin of chocolate while she plays with her abuelita who has come to visit from Mexico.


Thanks to everyone at Piñata Books/Arte Publico Press.

I want to thank Dr. Elin Danien. I met Elin through my research, and she was enthusiastic with the story since it was merely an idea. Elin, a Mayanist, generously shared with me the piece she did for Expedition Magazine, “Yom Yom Cacao.” She also told me about the Field Museum chocolate exhibit, and suggested book titles to guide my investigation into the Mesoamerican use of chocolate.

The beautiful illustrations by Lisa Fields also tell a story. Thank you, Lisa. I like your illustrations very much.  Grandma’s Chocolate/El chocolate de Abuelita is our book.

Thanks also to my family, to my agent, Adriana Dominguez, and to Full Circle Literary for their support.  I thank Karen Elwell and Tom Aleto for helping me in my research on huipiles and for sharing a little bit of Mexico with all that visit their Flickr site.  I thank my dear friends Rene Colato Lainez, Christiane Meneses Jacobs, everyone at Los Bloguitos ( and, of course, all the bloguereos at La Bloga.

It is important that our children feel proud of our cultural heritage, especially living in a multicultural society. This story is for them.

There are more surprises in the future stops of the tour. Follow Grandma's Chocolate Virtual Book Tour!

Thursday, November 18
Out of the Paintbox
Mara Price interview
by Diane Browning

Friday, November 19
Latin Baby Book Club
Book giveaway
By Monica Olivera Hazelton

Monday, November 22
Writing a History-based Fiction Story for Children
By Adriana Dominguez




Leticia Pontoni said...

I would like to drink a hot chocolate with Mara and her Grandma.

Wm Bearclaw said...

It's quite a lovely story, well-told by Mara & ably illustrated by Lisa!!

I enjoy reading the book with my family in English y en espanol tambien!

Bate, bate, chocolate! Yum!

-- HM

ChristinaNM said...

It has been a treat to follow this blog tour.... great idea! Sweet trailer.

I just finished a slice of my husband's english muffin toast with endangered species chocolate melted into a delectable spread... perfect accompaniment on my tour.

Congratulations to Mara and Lisa~ I am looking forward to reading the book.

Anonymous said...

This book sounds wonderful. My kids will enjoy it and then we can drink chocolate.

Mara Price said...

Thank you, Rene, for hosting the third day of my blog tour. And thank you all for your yummy comments about chocolate. I am glad you enjoyed the story, Lisa Fields illustrations, and the book trailer.