Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Interview with Author Monica Brown and Lola Levine Book Giveaway

Can you tell La Bloga Readers what is Lola Levine book series about?

The Lola Levine series is about a fierce, funny bilingual girl from a multicultural family who learns to strive and thrive in a world where she doesn’t always fit in.  Her father is Jewish and Eastern European, and her mother is Peruvian and Catholic. Lola might be called a “tomboy” by others, because she’s crazy for soccer, but she thinks labels are silly. So what if her best friend is a boy?  Lola loves words almost as much as she love soccer and writes often—notes, letters, and in her diario. Lola has lots of opinions and she’s not afraid to share them.

Did Lola Levine born as a book or did you have the intention to create a series since the first book?

Because I wanted to write a chapter book, I knew it would need to be a series. It was a particular challenge, but very much worth it! I was used to writing picture books, which are much shorter and I wanted to explore the novel form, for young readers. Now I’ve created what I call Lolaworld, which is a pretty joyful place to dwell, as an artist, a reader, and a writer.

Some authors use their own life in writing. What Lola Levine has of Monica Brown? What is something different from the author?

Other than my Marisol McDonald series, these are the books that are closest to my life—fictionalized of course! I do happen to have a outspoken, fierce, soccer-playing daughter Jules, who is a great inspiration for Lola, but her older sister, Bella, an equally fierce ballerina, informs my writing too. You see some of that dynamic when I introduce the character of Bella Benitez in Lola Levine and the Ballet Scheme.  Like me, Lola is very competitive (and loud), qualities that aren’t always encouraged in girls. I’m a fútbol fanatic myself, and was known as “bigfoot” on my childhood soccer team:).

What has been the experience working with Angela Dominguez?  

I loved Angela’s work before I even met her, and it’s always a delight to discover that some people are as nice as they are talented. Her illustrations bring a sweetness to the character that has some salty personality traits.  I proud of our collaboration to create one of the first ever Latina-authored and illustrated chapter book series!

What are the new Lola’s books about?

So many things! Lola Levine meets Jelly and Bean is just out, and it’s about Lola and her little brother’s adventures acquiring a new pet.  Lola book six, Lola Levine and the Vacation Dream, due out this April 25th, is so close to my heart. It involves Lola taking a family trip to Lima, Peru to visit her Tia Lola, who she’s named after.  I think this book explores identity and race in ways not yet done in chapter books and I’m very proud of it.  It was also very personal, because  I drew from the many trips I made with my mother and family to Peru as a child. I lost my mother several years ago, but not before she could introduce her mother country to my daughters-her grandchildren. 

Are there any ideas for future books?

I am bubbling over with ideas for my little Lola and her family and friends. I’ve written six books thus far, and as for more stories—time will tell. The sixth book in the series is Lola Levine and the Halloween Scream, so that will be fun.  There’s some mysterious alchemy I’m told, related to whether chapter book series “hit” with children or not, so my fingers are crossed that I can continue to share Lola’s life with children all over.  I’m thrilled to note that the first book, Lola Levine is Not Mean! is being translated into Spanish as I write this!

Thank you for donating some books for La Bloga. What do La Bloga readers need to do to participate?

The first five readers who share this blog post on social media will receive a signed copy of one of the Lola Books! Sent directly to you anywhere in the United States.

The author as a young soccer player; and, the “original” Lola, her daughter JuJu.

Monica Brown, Ph.D. is the award-winning author of many multicultural books for children. Her books have received numerous honors and starred reviews. She wrote the Chistopher-Award winner Waiting for the Biblioburro, illustrated by John Parra, and the Marisol McDonald picture book series, which includes Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/no combina; Marisol McDonald and the Clash Bash/y la fiesta sin igual, and Marisol McDonald and the Monster/y el monstruo all illustrated by Sara Palacios. Her most recent creation is the unique, fabulous Lola Levine, who stars in Monica’s first chapter book series, which includes Lola Levine is Not Mean!, Lola Levine, Drama Queen, and the forthcoming Lola Levine and the Ballet Scheme (Fall 2016) and Lola Levine Meets Jelly and Bean (Winter 2017). Her next picture book will be Frida and her Animalitos, from North South Press.

Monica Brown is also a Professor of English at Northern Arizona University where she teaches Chicano/a, U.S. Latino/a, and African American Literature.

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