Hello, parents, librarians, book fanatics, writers, and readers of all sorts! We're esctatic to have the amazing Mitali Perkins with us today. Mitali is the author of over 15 books for young readers, including the book we have featured today: Between Us and Abuela - A Family Story from the Border (illustrated by Sara Palacios). Her book, a perfect seasonal read, captures the love families share during the holidays and any time of the year, no matter the circumstances. Want to know more about Mitali, her beautiful book, and what other books of hers we can be on the lookout for? Read on...
Q: Hi, Mitali. Thanks so much for joining #SeasonsOfKidLit! I’m thrilled to have you and talk all about your wonderful holiday book: Between Us and Abuela - A Family Story from the Border. First, you’re the author of over 15 books for young readers, ranging from Picture Books to Novels. How inspiring! Can you share more about yourself with the readers?
A: I've been writing my whole life for fun but never thought it could become a career. My first novel, THE SUNITA EXPERIMENT, won a contest and was published by Little Brown. My second novel, MONSOON SUMMER, however, was rejected by 22 or so publishers and came out 11 years after my first one. That's when I thought, "Well, Mitali, you didn't give up. Maybe you should give this vocation a chance." After that, there was no looking back! I was born in India and grew up in the United States so many of my books explore life between cultures or borders. That's where I feel most at home—apart from in all the stories I love to read and re-read.
Q: Your book, Between Us and Abuela, A Family Story from the Border is a heartwarming story about Maria and her family, who travel to the border of California and Mexico to visit their grandmother for Christmas. Can you tell us more about your book?
A: I’d heard about the La Posada Sin Fronteras event through friends who have been involved for years. When I was a child and a newcomer to California, the border between San Diego and Tijuana didn’t look like it does today. In 1971, First Lady Pat Nixon established Friendship Park. One of her security officers cut the barbed wire, and she crossed the border to hug Mexican children, saying, “I hope there won’t be a fence here too long.” Unfortunately, our relationship with Mexico has gone in the other direction, fences, walls, and barriers have proliferated, and Friendship Park is now rarely opened. One of the times when people can meet there is during Las Posadas, where visitors on both sides celebrate an ancient Mexican tradition of commemorating Joseph and Mary’s search for a place to give birth to Jesus. This celebration, called La Posada Sin Fronteras (The Inn Without Borders) has taken place for more than a quarter century in Friendship Park (or nearby, when the park has been closed.) In the face of the deteriorating relationship between the U.S. and Mexico, the event seemed like a beacon of hope when I heard about it.
Q: What are some of your favorite parts, and what can we expect to see, when reading Between Us and Abuela?
A: Keep an eye on how Sara Palacios' drew the seagulls. They were such an unexpected surprise to me -- an everpresent sign of love that isn't hindered by borders or dividing fences. Also, ask yourselves, "What made the Border Patrol officer move from the rigidity of the law to the grace of love? What changed his mind?"
Q: What makes Between Us and Abuela the perfect read for the holidays?
A: I inscribe the book with these words: "Love always finds a way." This Christmas season is about just that--in the midst of a sad and divided world, Love came down to be with us.
Q: Thanks for sharing this with us, Mitali! We can't wait to check out this beautiful and important book.
You have such an outstanding array of books published. What other books of yours should we check out ASAP?
A: My newest picture book, THE STORY OF US, explores the beautiful but broken relationship between humanity and the four elements and how God is in the process of restoring that relationship. It's a book of hope (I hope) as children consider natural disasters like wildfires, earthquakes, typhoons, and tsumanis, which typify the chaos in the created order, and take stock of our responsibility to care for the elements.
Thanks for sharing that with us. What a cool book - perfect to add to any library or book collection! We can't wait to check it out.
Q: How would you like to Spread Joy this holiday season?
A: With a special message to all: Honest tears and hearty laughter can't be faked--pay attention to when, how, and why both of them show up this season.
Thanks for such a sweet message and thanks again for joining us, Mitali. It's been such a pleasure. Everyone, please leave a comment below to thank Mitali for stopping by and for sharing her books with us.
Reminder, those who comment on every post will be eligible to win (1) of (5) RYS Speedpasses or a special book package!
About Mitali Perkins
Mitali Perkins (mitaliperkins.com) has written many books for young readers, including You Bring the Distant Near (nominated for a National Book Award) and Rickshaw Girl (adapted into a film by Sleeperwave Productions), all of which explore crossing different kinds of borders. Her goal is to make readers laugh or cry, preferably both, as long as their hearts are widening. She lives and writes in the East Bay.
For more about Mitali, check out the below links:
To purchase Mitali's books on Amazon, or to leave a review, click here.