Thursday, June 19, 2014

Cuentos...discovering the Person Behind the Story

June Spotlight: Sonia Manzano

This month we are featuring Sonia Manzano, better known to many as Maria on Sesame Street. Apart from acting on Sesame Street and being a presence on Public Television since the 1970’s, Sonia has been a writer for both Sesame Street and Little Bill. She has written two children’s picture books, A Box Full of Kittens and No Dogs Allowed! and most recently released a young adult novel The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano.

Sonia, of the books you have written, which do you reflect the most on? Why?
I have to say I mostly reflect on my first picture book, No Dogs Allowed!  It's really a tribute to my family, though I did suffer chaotically hilarious trips to Lake Welch in New Jersey when I was a little girl!  Each time I read it I think both about the relatives in it, and not in it.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Here's what I'd tell myself. "Shut up and listen! You already know what you know.  If you listen, you'll learn something new!"

What three children’s books, other than your own, would you name as must reads? Why?
Hard to limit my "must read" list to "three" and just children's books at that so I'll throw in one adult novel as well.  The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant is a lovely picture book published in the late 1980's. I read When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago whenever I need a jolt of inspiration, and whenever I entertain pre-schoolers I pick up Sesame Street classic, The Monster at The End of This Book by Jon Stone.

What places you would suggest children/families visit when in your hometown?
My hometown is The Bronx and the greater NY area.  I would suggest visiting the Tenement Museum in lower Manhattan. I love it  because I fantasize my parents living in similar places when they came to New York from Puerto Rico in the late 1940's. 
Also -  I'm lending a hand in helping create a children's museum in the Bronx.  When that museum becomes a reality it'll become a destination for children and families from all over.
Sonia Mazano’s young adult novel The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano is the very first book of the One Book, One Barrio project. 

One Book, One Barrio is La Casa Azul Bookstore’s community-wide reading campaign to promote literacy and foster community through literature in East Harlem. 
Learn about how to be a part of
One Book, One Barrio on the bookstore website.

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