Friday, August 8, 2014

PIG PARK, a new Young Adult Novel by Claudia Guadalupe Martinez

If you don’t know Mexican-America very well, you might not know what that is on the cover of Claudia Guadalupe’s new YA novel Pig Park. That’s a “marronito,” a little brown cookie that looks like a pig. You can buy some marronitos at any Mexican bakery. Take, for instance, the Burciaga Bakery. It’s across the street from Pig Park in the fictional Chicago barrio of the same name. The bakery, says Masi Burciaga—the novel’s street smart narrator—“like most of Pig Park, sprouted in the boom and shadow of the American Lard Company. The company had even donated land right in the middle of everything for the park our neighborhood was named after. That’s why our neighborhood got named Pig Park, because pig fat made lard and lard had more or less made our neighborhood.”

Sound crazy?

Well, it’s all crazy! Fifteen-year-old Masi Burciaga's Pig Park neighborhood is becoming more and more of a ghost town since the American Lard Compay moved away. Her school closed down. Her family's bakery and the other surviving businesses may soon follow. As a last resort, the neighborhood grown-ups enlist all the remaining able-bodied boys and girls to haul bricks to help build a giant pyramid in the park in hopes of luring visitors.

A pyramid? How weird is that?

But something's not right about the entrepreneur behind this whole scheme. What kind of entrepreneur wants to fund a  pyramid of bricks in the middle of Pig Park. Then there's the new boy who came to help, the one with the softest of lips. Oh, Masi became confused—“I couldn’t help myself. My thoughts shifted to the boy from the park. I don’t know why I had looked at his mouth, but when I did the world around us stopped. He had masa lips, textured with fingerprints, soft as if molded, soft like warm rolls, probably soft to kiss…”

CLOTH ISBN 9781935955‑76-4, $15.95
PAPER ISBN 978193595577‑1, $9.95
EBOOK ISBN 978-1935955962, $9.95

Publishes September 2014

Are you interested in reviewing Pig ParkRequest a digital review copy on Edelweiss. You will need to create an account with Edelweiss, but the service is free."  Just follow the directions and soon you and Masi will be waiting to tell you her story about Pig Park! Come September you can buy a book at the Cinco Puntos website or from any of your favorite retailers and etailers.

Claudia Guadalupe Martinez

“My father taught me that letters form words, by making me read the subtitles of old westerns out loud. By the time I was six, I knew how to write too, and I was going to write a book…I was 11 when he passed. The loss was so great that I didn’t think I could share it with anyone. But I never forgot the smells, the sounds and the vast darkness.”—from an interview for the BEA/ALA Special Edition of Kirkus Reviews.

Pig Park is Claudia Guadalupe Martinez’ second young adult novel. Her first book, The Smell of Old Lady Perfume (Cinco Puntos, 2007) won the Best Young Adult Book from the Texas Institute of Letters, a Southwest Books Award and many other awards. Claudia grew up in El Paso’s Segundo Barrio between the Rio Grande and Interstate-10 that cuts through downtown. She graduated from Claremont McKenna and moved to Chicago where she administers an education-related NPO and continues to pursue her career as a writer. She is married and has a daughter and another baby on the way!

Awards for The Smell of Old Lady Perfume

Texas Institute of Letters’ Best Young Adult Book Award
Southwest Books of the Year Award, 2009, Pima County Public Library
Américas Award Commended Title, 2009
Paterson Prize for Books for Young People, 2009
Latinidad’s Best Middle Grade Book of 2008
Hispanic Magazine Summer MUST READ 2008
BEST OF THE BEST, 2008, Chicago Public Library
ALAN’s Picks, July 2008
YA Top Forty, Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA)
Recommended further reading in the Spring 2009 One Book, One Chicago program

Praise for The Smell of Old Lady Perfume

REFORMA Newsletter
Tweens will easily relate to Chela’s struggles and triumphs, particularly immigrant tweens. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

“…readers will also find the book’s loving portrayal of Chela’s family, its nicely realized setting, and its artful exploration of the problems of assimilation to be both engaging and heartfelt.”

School Library Journal
“This is a sweet coming-of-age story, telling of the cruelties of children toward one another and dealing with the loss of a parent. The story should appeal to readers dealing with their own tween years.”

Southwest Books of the Year, 2008
Setting her story in El Paso, Claudia Guadalupe Martinez gives us the gift of a real world, filled with authentic kids and family dynamics…Martinez’s prose, always animated and descriptive, is frequently quite beautiful. She is an author to watch.
—Cathy Jacobus,

Children's Literature
This sensitively-written novel provides unique insights into a bicultural family.
—Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.,

ALAN's Picks
While Spanish words are interspersed with English, there are not so many that the book is difficult to read for a non-Spanish speaking person but just enough to actualize the Hispanic culture in Chela's home life and the circumstances of a bilingual student in an English-speaking school environment.

San Antonio Express News
The original title gives a glimpse of the poetic lines peppered throughout this poignant debut.