Wednesday, August 25, 2010

MONSTER SCORES AT PEN USA


Ben Sáenz' Last Night I Sang to the Monster  was a finalist for the 2010 PEN USA Literary Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature. Congratulations to Ben!  The Dunderheads by Paul Fleischman and David Roberts was the winner. The awards committee went with frivolity for this year instead of a serious and engrossing look into issues facing teens. Oh well. That's how the publishing ball bounces. It's a big national award, and there are only four finalists. Even though the list won't be posted until next week, PEN has given us clearance to start bragging.We love Ben's Monster book, and we think that it--like his other CPP YA novel Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood--it will be a book that high school teachers will be using for a long time to come. Like Sammy, Monster is a book that doesn't dodge issues but Ben's prose makes a real good read for all of us, teenagers included, who want to understand better teenage alcoholism and dysfunctional families. Zach is a character that all will like and sympathize with and remember for a long time to come.

Cinco Puntos, of course, is proud to be publishing Ben's work. He's a great guy to work with. He comes by the office--we talk books and business and poetry, Lee and he doing a little editing, then we all talk some chisme, we laugh, we have a cup of coffee. And sometimes we take the walk across the bridge to Mexico. El Paso is such a cool place.

And by the way, his much praised and award-winning children's book THE PERFECT SEASON FOR DREAMING /  UN TIEMPO PERFECTO PARA SOÑAR is now out in paperback. Tijuana artist Esau Andrade did the magical illustrations. Take, for instance, the park scene in the exact middle of the book--a full two-page spread, like Suerat discovering the truth about Mexico, forgetting all about pointillism and deciding instead to take a bus to Guadalajara:

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