I can always tell if I am going to love the way a person writes by the way they speak.Guadalupe Garcia McCall spoke to our San Antonio SCBWI chapter this month – and I told my friend, “I am going to love her books.”
But after I began to read Under The Mesquite, winner of the Pura Belpré Medal for 2012, I was stunned.
I told my friend, (who is also a writer and an illustrator), “Oh, my gosh! She is going to be big! Her writing … it’s got that spark! I’m really, really blown away!”My friend whispered back to me, “Are you talking about Guadalupe Garcia McCall’s book Under The Mesquite?”
I said, ”Yes.”
She looked at me and said, “I know. I know. I totally agree!I felt it too.”
So here is an excerpt from the book.
Introducing, if you haven’t already read it – the talented Guadalupe Garcia McCall and her award winning book – Under The Mesquite:
“Here you go,” says my new
drama teacher, Mr. Cortés,
handing me a smallish white box
and a giant bag of Blow Pops.
“What’s this?” I ask.
“Voice lessons,” Mr. Cortés declares.
He reaches over, opens the box
with a flourish, and reveals
a set of four instructional CDs.
They’re brand-new, still shrink-wrapped.
“Go home and practice the lessons
with these in your mouth,” he says,
pointing to the Blow Pops.
“... put these in, one on each side
of your mouth, como ardilla listada.”
He puffs out his cheeks with air
to demonstrate, making a chipmunk face.
“Don’t suck on them, he instructs.
“Just let them sit there.
If you’re serious about acting---
and I think you are---then you need to
lose your accent.”
Rolling the Blow Pops
into position, I wonder if
this is how Mr. Cortés
got rid of his own accent.
The hard candy scrapes
against my my gums. My face
is so stretched out, it feels as big as
one of those hot-air balloon characters
floating over the booths
at la Feria, the annual fair
in Piedras Negras.
“Well? Say something,”
Mr. Cortés demands.
I swallow some spit and warble out,
“I have an accent?”
Guadalupe’s debut novel Under The Mesquite, published by Lee and Low Books Inc., is the winner of the 2012 Pura Belpré Medal for literature for a work by a Latino/Latina writer whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.
Carolyn Dee Flores/Illustrator