Mariana Llanos, one of the founders of our #LatinxPitch has a new book coming out this year, and the best news is that it releases simultaneously in Spanish and English. Run Little Chaski! An Inka Trail Adventure and ¡Corre Pequeño Chaski! Una aventura en el Camino Inka, illustrated by Mariana Ruiz Johnson, will release May 1st of this year with Barefoot Books. Hear from Mariana Llanos:
I wrote Run Little Chaski late in 2016. After running it through my critique group, working on revisions, and finally feeling like it was “ready”, I decided to begin the submission process. It was last year, and with the help of my new agent, Clelia Gore, that I sold it to Barefoot Books.
The few people who have read the book mention what a novel idea it was to feature these interesting foot-fleeted messengers that delivered messages through the Andes mountains in the times of the Inkas. I feel fortunate I found a publisher committed to diversity, but what people usually don’t realize is that novel ideas set in lands (not to mention times) faraway are a tough sell no matter how original they may seem.
Many publishing houses still puzzle over the idea of producing books set in other cultures. The most common argument is that children in the U.S won’t relate or that the editors themselves can’t relate. I obviously, disagree with this notion. As I have stated before, I grew up reading books set in “other” cultures, but those books still made me dream, laugh, and learn. How do we expect children to open their mind to the world if all they can see is their own reflection?
I learned this when I published my first self-published book in 2013 (Tristan Wolf). In those times I was doing plenty of Skype in the Classroom visits to schools around the world. On the same date I had a visit to a school in Illinois and one in Nigeria. I was a little worried about both visits: would the Illinois children understand my accent? Would the Nigerian children understand my accent?
It turned out they did (as children usually do), but not only that. Those children who were in different continents, separated by a great big ocean, reacted with laughter and surprise to the same parts of the story. Furthermore, their questions were substantially similar. So, my conclusion is, children are children wherever they are. They crave adventure and a well-told story. They recognize universal themes and are excited about learning from “others”. Children are children, everywhere.
And more exciting news: Run Little Chaski debuts as a Junior Library Gold Standard in English and Spanish. What an honor!
Please be a good Little Chaski and share the news far and away!
Learn more about the chaskis (or chasquis) from the National Museum of the American Indian