|Pat Mora is
a veteran childrens book author, but she
admits getting a book published in the field is
more than mere childs play.
Mora is the
author of 15 childrens books, five poetry
collections and numerous nonfiction works, and is
an ardent supporter of childhood reading and
most popular childrens books are both based
on Hispanic culture and actual people.
Tomas and the Library Lady tells of a
boys growing interest in learning to read
and going from a humble upbringing in a migrant
farm family to being president of a university.
Another book tells the story of Juana Ines, a
seventeenth-century Mexican poet.
Library for Juana: the World of Sor Juana
Inéz (English and Spanish editions)
received the 2003 Tomás Rivera Mexican American
Childrens Book Award, and Maria
Paints the Hills was a finalist for the
Texas Institute of Letters Best
Childrens Book, 2003.
interested in writing childrens books when
she was reading to her own three little children.
Like all the other parents and
grandparents, I thought, I could do
that, she said.
wasnt so simple, as she found out. She
learned that one publishing house received as
many as 10,000 unsolicited manuscripts a year,
stacking the odds against any new writer.
Its a minor miracle to have a
manuscript selected, she said.
She was so
discouraged by the rejections that she began
writing poetry for adults. Once she achieved
success with that, friends began encouraging her
to try the childrens books again. Her first
book was accepted after being rejected 25 times,
and then it took eight years before it was
illustrator chosen by the publisher was rejected
after completing all the drawings, and the
process had to start over. In the meantime,
though, Mora was able to sell other books.
learned one of the first lessons of authorial
persistence: You need to have friends who
believe in you.
began speaking at schools, she found that
students didnt know what a migrant worker
was, so she took on education as an additional
part of her mission. It was a chance to
talk to young readers, teachers and librarians
about different kinds of heroes, she said.
end, she became involved in spreading what she
calls book joy, getting children
excited about reading at a young age. If
theyre not active readers by the third
grade, weve lost them, she said.
Shes involved in promoting El día de los
niños / El día de los libros, or
Childrens Day/Book Day.
she rarely meets the illustrators for her books,
which usually take 18 to 24 months to be
published. In her childrens work, she tries
to think visually and provide inspiration for the
illustrator. Shes currently waiting for
illustrators to finish her upcoming
childrens books, The Song of Francis
and the Animals, Doña Flor,
and ¡Marimba! Animales A-Z, an
would-be childrens book authors to prepare
for rejection. Your heart will be
broken, she said. However, she said authors
shouldnt worry about trends but should
instead find the stories they think are important
and need to be told.