Cover Reveal: Silver Meadows Summer by Emma Otheguy
Hello, Emma Otheguy! Thank you for stopping by to celebrate Kailey Whitman’s gorgeous cover illustration for Silver Meadows Summer. What ran through your head the first time you saw the cover?
Emma: Kailey beautifully wove into the cover elements that bridge the Caribbean and New York State, the two places at the heart of this novel. We catch Carolina by her secret cabin in upstate New York, tall grass pushed aside to reveal this secluded spot. The tiny fish remind me of my grandmother’s house in Puerto Rico, and in the flamboyán leaves floating—impossibly—in the blue-green pond, I see the intimacy and the promise of this space for Carolina—how it’s a place where her two worlds meet, and where everything untrue to her own spirit falls away.
Booktalking is my favorite thing to do during school visits. Imagine you only have 25 seconds to booktalk Silver Meadows Summer. What would you say?
Emma: Carolina and her new friend Jennifer find an abandoned cabin in the woods. The discovery couldn’t come at a better moment—Carolina and her family have just moved from Puerto Rico to live with relatives in upstate New York, and Carolina wants a break from her older cousin Gabriela. Carolina and Jennifer fix up the cabin and use it as a secret haven for drawing and crafts. There’s only one problem—Carolina’s mom doesn’t know she’s been sneaking off into the woods.
What are three things we should know about Carolina and her family?
Emma: Carolina and her dad like to recite Antonio Machado’s poem Caminante, no hay camino (Traveler, There Is No Path), a poem that is beloved throughout the Spanish-speaking world. When Carolina and her family move to upstate New York, Carolina learns Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.” As she navigates family dynamics and new friendships, Carolina considers both of these poems. These verses give her the bravery to imagine many possible paths for herself, and to carry together multiple languages and cultures.
Carolina is a girl with the Caribbean in her heart—her family is originally from Cuba and she lives in Puerto Rico until just before Silver Meadows Summer begins—who discovers her love for the natural beauty of New York State when she finds an abandoned cabin in the woods. This connection between the Caribbean and New York is a recurring theme in my books. I like to think about how immigrant families relate to place, to natural and architectural beauty when place has been so uncertain in our lives and family history. On a deeply personal level, this is a book about how we can bring the Caribbean and New York, the places I most love, a little closer together.
Carolina navigates Latinx stereotypes and role models. In the community to which Carolina moves, there are people who learned everything they know about Latinx culture from pop stars—and think that everything there is to know about Latinas is that they are “hot” or “sexy”—and therefore dangerous. Carolina finds a way to reject these stereotypes while embracing Latinx music and dance—the things she likes about media stars. She remembers lessons from Latina role models like her art teacher, Señora Rivón (named after and inspired by my grandmother, who was a painter), and also learns from Latina peers—unexpectedly, from her older cousin Gabriela. Most importantly, Carolina finds her own internal compass, and learns to define herself without stereotypes or expectations.
Please finish these sentence starters:
Story is connections, bridges, links. For children of immigrants, stories are how we bridge our own worlds with our parents’ worlds.
School libraries are home base; the starting point for any inquiry or adventure.
Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about connections between Cuba and Puerto Rico. Carolina’s family is from Cuba, but lives in Puerto Rico until just before Silver Meadows Summer begins. Through this novel, I try to honor the links between these two Caribbean islands, different but both important to the history of my own Cuban-American family. One of my aunts likes to quote a poem by Lola Rodríguez de Tío that reads, “Cuba y Puerto Rico son de un pájaro las dos alas” (Cuba and Puerto Rico are the two wings of a single bird), and I hope that this book, at least a tiny bit, honors that sentiment.
Look for Silver Meadows Summer on April 30, 2019.