It’s hard to believe that I was in New York City on the weekend of February 7-9 for the SCBWI conference – meeting up with friends for breakfast in the Grand Hyatt Hotel and attending crowded sessions. So much has changed since then; I am grateful for that weekend full of inspiration and books.
I especially enjoyed sessions on telling authentic picture book stories and creating memorable characters. One of the recurring themes throughout the sessions: “Write from a place that only you can write.” In the days after the conference, I thought about how much I adore the memorable Marisol McDonald picture books, written by Monica Brown and illustrated by Sara Palacios.
Here are 6 things I love about MARISOL McDONALD DOESN’T MATCH/ MARISOL McDONALD NO COMBINA.
1. The book is in English and Spanish. Each spread shows the English version of the text and the Spanish translation. Lovely!
2. Charming details show the main character’s personality. Marisol McDonald is mixed – with a South American mother and a North American father. With brown skin and red hair, Marisol keeps hearing that she doesn’t match. When a friend comments that her hair is the color of carrots, Marisol says her hair is actually the color of fire — a perfect detail for a spunky girl!
She wears green polka dots and purple stripes. She loves peanut butter and jelly burritos. She loves “speaking Spanish, English, sometimes both.” For example, she asks her parents, “Can I have a puppy? A furry, sweet perrito?”
3. When Marisol tries to match, her emotional struggle shines through. After a friend challenges Marisol by saying she couldn’t match if she wanted to, she decides to try matching. Clearly uncomfortable, she says it’s hard to find clothes that are all the same color. And when it comes to life, she doesn’t want to have to choose between one thing or another. Mixing things up feels natural. I love how the middle of the book shows the ups and downs of her struggle in a way that respects the emotions of children.
4. By the end, Marisol embraces and celebrates who she is. She is amazing, and she gets the puppy of her dreams. “He has one floppy ear and one pointy ear, one blue eye and one brown eye…He is mismatched and simply marvelous, just like me…”
5. The author and the illustrator provide touching notes in the backmatter. In her dedication, illustrator Sara Palacios thanks her parents for embracing her mismatches. “Because we don’t have to be like everyone else or follow their paths,” Sara writes. “Our own choices make us who we are.”
Author Monica Brown says, “Like Marisol McDonald, my cousins and I are mixed – indigenous Peruvian and Spanish mixed with Scottish and Italian and Jewish, not to mention Nicaraguan, Mexican, Chilean and African.”
My favorite line from Monica’s note: “My life (and I bet yours too) is bound up with the history of many people’s and like Marisol McDonald, I open my arms wide and embrace them all.” Yes, yes!
6. Marisol and this outfit are downright irresistible. This little girl makes me want to spice up my wardrobe. And staying true to herself, Marisol will never be limited or put into a box. And you know what? Neither will I!
Thanks everyone & see you next time!
Congratulations to Terri Michels for winning THE FIRST MEN WHO WENT TO THE MOON from my last post.