Interviews

Artistic Action for Change – Children’s Author F. Isabel Campoy by Hiplatina

Isabel Campoy has been delighting children with her storybooks for years. Her mantra is to provide children with the keys to understanding the world in a fun, and positive (as well as challenging) way—encouraging children to try and a make a difference in their community.

In addition to writing children’s novels, Campoy is also an educator who writes Language Arts, and ESL (English as a second language) textbooks. She frequently presents at national and international conferences on bilingual education and post in our website.

Campoy was born in Alicante, Spain, where she lived until she was sixteen. She is fluent in Spanish, English, Catalan, and French. In her latest children’s book Maybe Something Beautiful, Campoy combines her love of art and culture—hoping to motivate families to care for their neighborhoods, and breathe new life in their surroundings through art. Below is my interview with this insightful storyteller.

HipLatina: Tell us a little about your background.

Isabel Campoy: I studied Linguistics, and have spent all my life around books—in all kinds of capacities. I have always been in love with ink and paper, with art and imagination, and I am fortunate enough that I have been able to spend my life doing what I love most: creating something, in paper, on canvas, [and] with mud….

[…]

Read the entire interview here: Artistic Action for Change – Children’s Author F. Isabel Campoy

 

CABE 2013 Interview


Interview with F. Isabel Campoy for “Papertiger Magazine”

We, Latinos

For the first 16 years of my life I never questioned my identity. I was Spanish, from Alicante, a happy, athlete, gregarious, artistic student. I went to public schools and was a member of sport teams, classical music clubs, and art appreciation classes. I knew how to manage between two languages, Catalan and Spanish, although I couldn’t understand why the government wanted to delete all languages spoken in the country in favor of Spanish only. I knew that not questioning authority I would be safe, but I couldn’t stop questioning all the limitations of freedom imposed by Generalisimo Franco, our dictator.

And then I came to the United States, and here I acquired a new identity. I was Latina. At least for English speakers. I was living in Trenton, Michigan, and it was the year 1963. […]

Read the entire interview here: F.Isabel.Campoy-Papertigers-Interview


Today´s Revolutionary Women of Color; Interview by Claudia D. Hernández


 

Interview with F. Isabel Campoy for Senderos, Houghton Mifflin

As a writer, you have a strong focus on the culture and civilization of the Hispanic world. Can you share a little on your background and how you became a children’s book writer?

I cannot remember a time in my life in which I wasn’t part of the world of children’s literature. . As soon as I learned to read I became the person that teachers chose to read out loud to the rest of the class while they did art, or sewing. I had a good voice and I couldn’t hold a thread and needle for more than two seconds, so it was a perfect match to keep everyone busy. That practice stimulated the writer in me and when I was eleven years old I published my first tale in a local magazine. I continued writing throughout my childhood. When I came to the U.S. for the first time at age fifteen in 1963, writing kept me alive through the difficult moments of missing my family (I was here as an AFS exchange student), and conquering my fears after the tragic assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy on November of that year.

My first job after college was as an assistant editor in Madrid. I applied to the position because it was my way to be part of the publishing world. Later I was offered the opportunity to co-author with Phillip Locke a series for the teaching of English, my responsibility being to provide the literary texts. I left publishing many years later. At the time, I was a Senior Acquisitions Editor for College publications in a company in Boston. I realized then that the joy of publishing others, was hiding my fear to publish my own manuscripts… so I finally quit everything and became a full time writer.

I love to travel. I am interested in the places, the people, and their histories. When I began writing for children I wanted to contribute to present the cultural richness of Latino history, art, and literature for readers in this country. There is much to be written about our culture.

Read the entire interview here: Interview-for-Senderos.-Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt


 

By Blanca Shultz for Children’s Writer

As a writer, you have a strong focus on the culture and civilization of the Hispanic world. Can you share a little on your background and how you became a children’s book writer?

I cannot remember a time in my life in which I wasn’t part of the world of children’s literature. As soon as I learned to read I became the person that teachers chose to read out loud to the rest of the class while they did art, or sewing. I had a good voice and I couldn’t hold a thread and needle for more than two seconds, so it was a perfect match to keep everyone busy. That practice stimulated the writer in me and when I was eleven years old I published my first tale in a local magazine. I continued writing throughout my childhood. When I came to the U.S. for the first time at age fifteen in 1963, writing kept me alive through the difficult moments of missing my family (I was here as an AFS exchange student), and conquering my fears after the tragic assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy on November of that year.

My first job after college was as an assistant editor in Madrid. I applied to the position because it was my way to be part of the publishing world. Later I was offered the opportunity to co-author with Phillip Locke a series for the teaching of English, my responsibility being to provide the literary texts. I left publishing many years later. At the time, I was a Senior Acquisitions Editor for College publications in a company in Boston. I realized then that the joy of publishing others, was hiding my fear to publish my own manuscripts… so I finally quit everything and became a full time writer.

I love to travel. I am interested in the places, the people, and their histories. When I began writing for children I wanted to contribute to present the cultural richness of Latino history, art, and literature for readers in this country. There is much to be written about our culture.

Tales Our Abuelitas Told: A Hispanic Folktale Collection, is one of the many books you have written with Alma Flor Ada. It was first published in 2006 and it has just been reprinted for the 4th time as a hardcover. Congratulations! What does this milestone mean to you?

Why do you think so many readers are drawn to your and Alma Flor Ada’s retellings of these particular folktales?

Authors love all their books, but there are some that connect with you in a very personal way. “Tales Our Abuelitas Told” was published the year I lost my mother. She was the greatest story teller, imaginative, soft spoken, and these were tales she had told us growing up. I wrote some of the stories for this book by her side. At the time I was the one who would read to her, to make her forget pain, to keep a smile in her beautiful face.

I remember each line in that book and how she reacted to my reading of the stories I was writing. Because she knew the storyline so well, she would frequently interrupt me to say: “That is not exactly how I told you that story” …when I was using some literary freedom in my re-telling. Those moments are my greatest treasure of her memory, now.

I have given readers the echo of my mother’s voice through the beauty of our folklore. I am sure she is enjoying the success of her tales…now in a fourth hardcover reprint.

Which of the folktales resonates with you the most? Why?

Does there appear to be a favorite folktale amongst the readers of your book?

I could probably say that all of them but “The Story of the Not-So Small Animal” is one that I like to tell when I visit schools because I love the landscape and the people of the Basque country. I tell children how so many of them brought their skills as shepherds to the mountains of Idaho. I like this story also because it is one in which the little creatures, together, win the battle against the big animals. I like that!

The stunning artwork in the book was created by four leading Latino artists: Felipe Dávalos, Viví Escrivá, Susan Guevara and Leyla Torres. How do you feel about the illustrations and the extra dimension that they bring to the tales?

Our friendship with these artist has created more than one collaboration that resulted in great published books. But here they are all together, each one bringing their talent, point of view of the story and energy, and the result is magnificent. It is an honor to have them all in here.

Viví Escrivá has been a frequent collaborator with us. Together we published “Pio, Peep! and !Muu, Moo!, two of our first Nursery Rhyme collections with Harper Collins. Felipe Dávalos put wind underneath important books such as “The Quetzal’s Journey”, “On the Wings of the Condor”, and “Eyes of the Jaguar”.

You have many published books. Which book from your own esteemed list of published titles would you consider to be the most personally rewarding?

I love art, sometimes I try my hand at painting and sculpting, and having had the opportunity to present to children the richness of Hispanic art has given me great satisfaction. “ Blue and Green”; “Brush and Paint”; ”Artist’s Easel”; and “Canvas and Paper” are four of our art books (written with Alma Flor Ada). But I find writing biographies a very special challenge that I welcome. When I fall in love with a character, I want my readers to love him/her too. For that to happen, every word must be chosen carefully. In our series “Gateways to the sun” we wrote about twelve very special personalities from the world of science, leadership, media, art, and literature.

Alma Flor Ada and yourself have a forthcoming book Yes! We Are Latinos, which combines free verse portrait of Latino and Latina children of very different backgrounds living in different parts of the country. When should we expect to see this book on the shelves?

It is in the hands of the illustrator. The publisher’s goal was 2012. I hope we make it on time!

That is an important book in our careers. We opened our heart and we wrote with passion about who we are, all of us, Latinos in this country.

Which books from your own childhood have most influenced your life?

I continue to find “Platero y yo” by Juan Ramón Jimenez a source of inspiration. I go back to its pages when I want to remember my childhood.

I never understood “Don Quixote” by Miguel de Cervantes until I grew up, but when I did, I realized I have been Don Quixote half of my life and Sancho Panza, the other half.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I want to express my gratitude to them. I wrote a haiku to say precisely that:

Gratitude is a golden bird

Perched in the branches of your heart

May its voice be heard!


By Leticia Pontony

¿Dónde naciste?

Nací en el Mediterráneo, en la ciudad más dulce del mundo, Alicante, España. Allí se hace el famoso turrón que tantos Hispanos conocen alrededor del mundo. El turrón es una pasta de almendras, miel y azúcar que se come preferentemente en Navidad.

Alicante es un lugar hermoso, con playas de arena suave y un mar en el que puedes nadar desde mayo hasta octubre. Se ha convertido en un lugar preferido para el turismo y cuando ahora regreso, veo cuánto ha crecido aquella ciudad portuaria de mi infancia. Viví allí hasta los 16 años. Fue entonces cuando gané una beca The American Field Service Scholarship, y vine a Trenton, Michigan. Aquella experiencia cambió mi vida para siempre.

Has escrito poesía, teatro, biografías, letras para canciones, ficción ¡increíble¡ ¡felicitaciones¡

Publiqué mi primer cuento en una revista local en Alicante a los once años. Teniendo en cuenta que Alicante tiene un clima semi-desertico, el que mi cuento se titulara “El muñeco de nieve” dice mucho de mi imaginación desde bien joven. Creo que no recozco mi vida sin un lápiz y un papel delante. Mis primeros libros se publicaron cuando tenía 23 años. Fueron una serie para la enseñanza del inglés (hice mi carrera en Filología Inglesa y pronto empecé a publicar en la entonces Editorial Mangold). Y ya en Estados Unidos he publicado preferentemente sobre temas de la cultura Hispana.

Cuando me planteé mi papel en el amplio mundo editorial estadounidense me di cuenta que yo aquí era Latina/Hispana y que tenía que entender mi nueva identidad para contribuir a esta sociedad. Y fue así que en colaboración con Alma Flor Ada nos planteamos el traer a la consciencia de los Latinos/Hispanos la riqueza de sus raíces. Los Latinos/Hispanos venimos de veinte países en el mundo. En esos 20 países hay una cultura vibrante que las nuevas generaciones nacidas aquí deben conocer. Tenemos astrónomos, matemáticos, científicos, arquitectos, escultores, médicos que sentaron las bases de nuestra riqueza cultural hace más de siete siglos atrás. Yo siempre repito (y en inglés rima) que “You cannot have fruits without roots” Uno es más fuerte –como los árboles- cuando sus raíces son profundas. Y hay que conocer de donde venimos para alegrarnos del camino recorrido hasta donde vamos. Sí, he disfrutado mucho investigando y escribiendo para los niños en todos los campos de nuestra cultura.

Mamá goose, Be My Valentine, Cuentos que contaban nuestras abuelas y Colorín Colorado. Elegí estos libros para que nos hables sobre ellos.

Has hecho una buena selección de entre los muchos libros que he escrito. Mamá Goose pertenece al grupo de libros que hemos escrito para los más pequeños. Y como su título indica, es bilingüe. Contiene nanas, juegos, dichos, poemas que abren la imaginación del niño y le proporcionan su primera experiencia con la literatura. Otros para esa misma edad son ¡Pío Peep!, ¡Mu, Moo!, Merry Navidad, Diez Perritos…y los que hay en imprenta. Be my Valentine es un cuento corto. Me gusta jugar con las palabras y siempre que sea posible, apuntar al corazón. Pero también me gusta el humor por eso Rosa Raposa (three tricksters tales) dice tanto de quien soy yo. Cuentos que contaban nuestras abuelas es quizás mi libro preferido porque cuento lo que oí de pequeña y así mi corazón se mantiene inocente siempre. Seis de los doce cuentos los escribí yo y los otros seis Alma Flor. Nos divertimos mucho elegiendo de entre ¡más de sesenta que queriamos contar!. Colorín colorado es un ejemplo de la labor que hacemos con padres, maestros y niños para también ellos encuentren su voz y escriban sus propias historias. En nuestro libro sobre escritura Authors in the Classroom: A Transformative Education Process les invitamos a “atraverse a escribir”.

Cuéntales de tus hobbies a los chicos.

Me gusta subir montañas y pasar tiempo en el campo. En esos sitios se oye el silencio y el silencio es vital para un escritor. Para poder escribir tengo que acallar todos los ruidos de la civilización: teléfonos, computadoras (sus mensajes hablan), música, televisión. Allá puede no llegar a oirse ni a los pájaros.

Pero me encanta el arte. Hago escultura y pinto (mal, pero lo hago). Visito museos, colecciono libros de arte (me encanta buscar en las librerias de libros viejos).

Mi hermano Diego me contagió el gusto por el fútbol (soccer) y aunque defendemos a equipos distintos (él el Real Madrid, yo el Barça) es un deporte que “consiento” ver jugar.

Eres una gran artista. ¿Qué significa eso para vos?

Pues en realidad no soy muy buena. Y debo aclarar algo. YO NO SOY ILUSTRADORA. Y lo digo con mayúsculas porque después de publicar tantos y tantos libros con Alma Flor y ella ser una escritora tan conocida, mucha gente cree que yo soy la ilustradora. ¡Tendría que ser extraordinaria! para poder tener los cientos de estios de los artistas que nos ilustran nuestros libros. Tanto ella como yo somos escritoras y ser co-autor significa que las dos personas deben ser capaces de escribir un libro en común. No es fácil, pero nosotras lo hemos hecho más de cien veces.

Envíales un saludo a los niños.

Quiero invitarlos a venir a mi casa (mi web: www.isabelcampoy.com) y que allí  vean mis libros, se familiaricen con las fotos de mi vida y luego me hagan preguntas. Prometo contestarlas todas. Pero sobretodo quisiera dejarles un mensaje: La historia es de quien la escribe, escriban sus propias historias para que su vida no se olvide.


 

Teachers as Acquisition Editors: A Better Approach to Teaching Writing

[…] These days, when I go to classrooms, I turn to an approach that resonates with me. My friends, Isabel Campoy and Alma Flor Ada –prize-winning and respected authors and researchers – have a terrific book called Authors in the Classroom: A Transformative Education Process. It advocates for parents and teachers to write along with students and to engage in a process that celebrates the idea that we’re all authors, in one way or another.
I caught up with Isabel, a dynamo of a poet and thinker, and I asked her a few questions about how we teach expression and ways that we can do it better.
MM: We are all creatures of story…from cave paintings to the Russian novel. And yet, so many people struggle with writing. What blocks people from thinking of themselves as writers?
IC: There are 237 steps to climb to my high school in Alicante, and I remember my struggle to find an important topic for my daily writing exercise before I reached the door of my classroom. By step 180 I used to slow down, not only to catch by breath, but to give me more time, hoping that some great idea would pop up. I think that fear of not having a brilliant story to share, starts for the majority even at Elementary School, and for many, it is the end of the road in a writing career. Writing is more than an intellectual exercise; it is a romance with words, words that find a vacant silence to fill it up with wonder, curiosity, expectation or love. Our universe is made up of “vacant silences.” There is room for seven billion stories, one written by each person in this tiny planet. […]

Read the entire interview here: http://megmedina.com/tag/authors-in-the-classroom/