Scholarships for Mayan village and book news

In Guatemala--some people involved in the Xucaneb Fund, including some scholarship recipients

Hello! I'm feeling happy, back from my NIA (dance) class. Just turned in copyedits for The Ruby Notebook *big sigh of relief*, and am now switching gears to revise The Queen of Water (the true story of my friend's girlhood in Ecuador).

This means that my poor brain has to shift from French mode back to Spanish mode... I was at the library a few days ago, talking to the lovely Guatemalan children's librarian there in Spanish, but French kept trying to slip out. Frustrating...

Speaking of Guatemala, I've been meaning to post something about the non-profit where I donated 5% of my royalties this year. It's called the Xucaneb Fund, part of the Village Earth, and it helps educate young people from the Q'eqchi' Maya village of San Pablo Xucaneb in Guatemala.

Hector, Osvaldo, Maria Cristina, Aurora, Aurelia-- scholarship recipients

Here's some info about it, cut and pasted from the Village Earth website:

"These five young people are continuing their studies as a result of the scholarships we have offered to the children of the Association. Young people study in the village school until they finish 6th grade. Then if they want to go to middle school, 7th - 9th grades, they have to leave the village which is too expensive for many of them. Before this project most of the kids couldn't dream of going past 6th grade, but now 10 students per year are able to continue their education with the assistance of Q.120 per month, about $15. So for $150 a year a student can continue going to school and hope for some options in life besides farming. Some want to continue the farming life, which they certainly should be able to do, but some are interested in pursuing other fields."

The Xucaneb Women's association, formed with help from Village Earth funds

This education situation is common in rural Oaxaca (where my first two books are partially set), as well, as you might remember from Red Glass. I spent time in villages where many teens left to spend the week in the nearest town (usually several hours away) to attend la prepa (high school), and came back to their villages for the weekends. The teens whose families didn't have money or relatives in town had to stop school around age 14 (if not sooner).

I would love to visit Xucaneb sometime, and meet these students. Yet another reason to return to Guatemala. (Our lil dude, almost three years old now (!), spent the first nine months of his life there until we adopted him.)

Okay, on to a few random things I wanted to mention here. First, big congrats to the winners of the Newbery, Printz, Sibert, and the other medals awarded by ALA this week! (These awards are like the Oscars of children's literature!) I'm especially happy for Liz Garton Scanlon for her Newbery honor for ALL THE WORLD, which is one of my all-time favorite picture books. Lil Dude loves it, too-- we read it every night before bed now. If you have any young child in your life, I highly recommend giving this book to them.

I'm also extra-happy for Chris Barton's Sibert Honor for Day-Glo Brothers. I haven't gotten my hands on a copy yet, but soon I will!

Liz and Chris and I have the same agent-- Erin Murphy-- so we're all part of the "Gang of Erin." We're so lucky to have this nice bond with all the other gang members-- all the authors (I think there are over 50 of us!) are super-supportive of each other. Twenty-five of us will be meeting in Chicago this spring for our fourth annual retreat-- can't wait!

The Indigo Notebook didn't walk away from the ALA honors empty-handed, you'll be glad to know! It was selected as an ALA Amazing Audiobook for Young Adults. (Of course, most of the congrats should go to Justine Eyre, who did a truly amazing job reading it aloud!)

I also wanted to write about one of my new favorite older kids' books-- When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, which, not surprisingly, won the Newbery this year. I'll write more about it later because I want to do it justice... and I want to write a bit about A Wrinkle in Time, too. And about space and time and existence and all that... but I'll save it for another day...