I remember when I was in elementary school I had entered a contest to meet an author. I had to write something, and somehow or another, I had won! I think I was in 4th or 5th grade. I don’t remember much about what I had written, or about the day itself, but I do remember being proud and excited. We went to a different school, had lunch, and got something signed by the author. The best part? I got to meet the author. Back then, I thought I was meeting a movie star. The author was Thacher Hurd, and the book I remember reading was Mama Don’t Allow. It was such a special time for me. School was a place where I loved to go. I could escape to a place where I had friends, my teachers liked me and I did pretty well in my studies. (I’m no genius or anything, but I did okay.) Meeting the author was even better. I was proud to have been chosen to meet him. The event gave me confidence that I could be someone famous like that. (I’m still waiting for that to happen.) 😉
Fast forward many years (too many to count) to college. While I was in the Master’s program at Fresno State, I had the pleasure of meeting Margarita Engle. Margarita has written many books, mostly for children and young adults. She has won awards for many of her books, and she is the first winner of the Newbery Honor ever to be awarded to a Latino.
Before I go any further, you might be asking yourself why I’m talking about an author. Well, my friends, it’s because this author lives right here in our own backyard. She may not be a movie star, but to us literacy lovers, she might as well be.
When I first met Margarita it was, as I stated earlier, during a Fresno State class. She was kind enough to spend about an hour or so with us. She spoke to us about how she became an author, the process of writing and making a book, as well as illustrations and how the illustrator captures her stories in pictures. She was very generous with her time and answered all of our questions.
About a year or so later, I went to Petunia’s Place to buy some books. It happened to be the same day that Margarita Engle was signing books. What a treat! I then purchased The Wild Book, which happens to be one of my favorite books.
This story was inspired by stories told by Margarita’s own grandmother, who had word blindness, or dyslexia. This book is written in poetry fashion, but not rhyming. (Which happens to be difficult to read for those with dyslexia.) I love this book because as a reading instructor, I can use it to inspire some of my students. I love the story and the message it gives to those who read it.
Margarita is often found at Petunia’s Place and the Clovis Book Barn, doing meet and greets, as well as book signings. If you ever get the chance to go to one of her signings, do so. She will share so much with you. You know what makes an excellent author? The ability to share a story, and that’s what Margarita does. Even just in conversation you will be fascinated. She will hold your attention, and you will wish you could sit and chat with her all day. She is an award winning local author. Isn’t that something to be proud of? I say yes! So, support her anyway you can. Buy her books, go to her book signings, say hi if you see her around town. Most importantly, if you have kids, introduce your kids to her. To see a real life author in person inspired me as a young child. Maybe introducing your child to a local author will inspire them as well.