Author Diane Gonzales Bertrand writes award-winning books for family reading. Even her novels that feature adult characters, such as Sweet Fifteen (1995) and Lessons of the Game (1998), as well as her romantic novel, Close To The Heart (2002), have found a strong readership among teens and senior citizens alike. Her novels for middle school readers, Alicia's Treasure (1995)(PDF file), Trino's Choice (1999)(PDF file), and Trino's Time (2001) were inspired by requests by Texas teachers and librarians who wanted more variety in the literature for their students. She has also published bilingual picture books, Sip, Slurp, Soup, Soup/Caldo, Caldo, Caldo (1997)(PDF file), Family, Familia (1999), The Last Doll (2001), and Uncle Chente's Picnic (2001). Diane's books are published by Arte Publico Press in Houston. She lives in San Antonio.
I last interviewed Diane in March 2002. At that time, she was taking a year off school visits to work on a novel manuscript. That summer, Arte Publico had scheduled the release of an updated reprint of Diane's novel Close To The Heart. See An Interview with Children's and YA Book Author Diane Gonzales Bertrand. (Note: my site is being redesigned in fall 2005, so if this link doesn't work, simply check the site guide and/or search engine).
What is new in your writing life since we last chatted?
At the American Library Association meeting held in Chicago in late June 2005, I was presented with the Schneider Family Book Award for my book, My Pal Victor (Raven Tree Press, 2004).
This award recognizes a book that depicts a positive look at the disability experience for children. This manuscript was rejected by a variety of publishers before tiny Raven Tree Press in Wisconsin took it, so I was very pleased by the response of the library committee to this story. It is a bilingual book with one of the first Latino characters who is a child with a disability.
Do you have a new book(s) to tell us about?
Three new books are in the process at Arte Publico Press. In Fall 2006, my new novel, The Ruiz Street Kids, will be published. In spring 2007, my first picture book biography, Ricardo's Race will be published. In Spring 2008, another bilingual picture book, We are Cousins/Somos Primos will be out.
If so, could you give us some insights into how this book(s) came to be?
The Ruiz Street Kids celebrates the neighborhood where I spent my childhood. It was a multicultural mix of kids. It's a humorous story, just meant for the readers to enjoy.
Ricardo's Race is the story of Dr. Ricardo Romo, president of the University of Texas at San Antonio. He earned recogition as a runner and after an injury, became an educator. He is also a San Antonio native like me, so I am thrilled to share his inspiring story.
We are Cousins/Somos Primos is a simple book for preschoolers about a group of cousins who explain the relationship they share as family.
How about children's or YA books that you've read lately? Which are your favorites and why?
I got a sneak peek at Pat Mora's new picture book about St. Francis of Assisi and a book called Dona Flor (Knopf, October 2005). Beautifully illustrated!
The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Cofer was another favorite YA title I read this sumer.
However, my favorite book for my summer reading was Zorro by Isabel Allende (HarperCollins). I can't remember when I was so charmed by a book.
What are your writing goals for the immediate future?
I am still being rejected by New York publishers, but the library groups keep me so busy with speaking engagements, I can't dwell on it for long. Lucky for me, Arte Publico is publishing my work, understands my goals, and continues to maintain an excellent reputation for distribution and promotion.
Cynsational News & Links
Meet the Authors and Illustrators: Diane Gonzales Bertrand from Children's Literature. See the Diane Gonzales Bertrand Teacher Resource File from the Internet School Library Media Center. See also Diane Gonzales Bertrand from Arte Publico Press.
Interview with Joanne Yates Russell, Associate Art Director of Random House/Golden Books from childrensillustrators.com.
Writer's Block Begone! by Kimberly Pauley at Young Adult Books Central.