Today is a very special day in my life as an editor. The first book I edited—Dancing Home by Alma Flor Ada and her son, Gabriel M. Zubizarreta—was published today by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Publishing Division.
Dancing Home is a story for middle-grade readers (ages 9-12) that alternates between the perspectives of Mexican-American Margie and her Mexican cousin Lupe. Margie has finally convinced the kids in her California school that she is one-hundred percent American, just like they are. But when Lupe comes to visit and attend school with Margie for a year, everything changes. Margie resents the effect Lupe’s arrival has on her family, her friends, and her life at school. Meanwhile, Lupe is struggling to learn a new language and find her place in a new school. Both girls are in need of a friend, and with the help of a special Mexican dance, they find one in one another.
The book is being simultaneously published in English and Spanish (I helped very little with the Spanish edition, Nacer bailando—majoring in German really wasn’t practical). Although I did the majority of the editorial work on the English edition before I left S&S in November, there was still plenty of work to do by the other incredibly talented people at Atheneum. I recently got advance copies of both editions, and let me tell you, they did a beautiful job.
Clearly this book has a special place in my heart, and I was delighted to find that trade review journals liked it, too! Here’s what they had to say:
“The third-person narration shifts its focus gently from girl to girl, allowing readers access to their thoughts and feelings…. Although sometimes wise beyond their years, Margie and Lupe will charm readers as each girl struggles for belonging and acceptance in this realistic novel.”
—KIRKUS REVIEWS, June 1, 2011
“This story will assist readers in embracing their own heritage and developing an appreciation for their classmates’ backgrounds. It’s an enjoyable offering (and a great read-aloud) that will capture readers’ attention and have them rooting for the cousins and their friendships and family relationships.”
—School Library Journal, July 2011
“Ada, the author of many multicultural titles, including Tales Our Abuelitas Told: A Hispanic Folktale Collection (2006), and Zubizarreta write knowingly of the difficulties of a life lived in two cultures. A subplot involving Lupe’s father (who came to America illegally and later abandoned his family) is also well handled, as is the inclusion of a Ruben Dario poem, “To Margarita.” Give this to fans of Pam Muñoz Ryan’s Esperanza Rising (2000) and Becoming Naomi Leon (2004).”
—Booklist, July 1, 2011
Next time you’re at a bookstore or the library, stop over to the children’s section and check it out.
Congratulations to Alma Flor and Gabriel on the publication of their book!