Latinx Authors & Illustrators Launch “Las Musas”

This cadre is made up of Latinx women and non-binary creators with debut and sophomore fictional books for children and teens releasing between Fall 2018–2019.

Debut author groups are quite common in the children’s and young adult literature communities. These collectives offer support, advice, and promotion for their members, especially during their first years of publication. For the first time ever, a group of debut and sophomore middle grade and young adult authors of Latinx descent have joined in a similar effort. This cadre, called Las Musas ("The Muses"), is made up of women and non-binary creators with fictional books for children and teens releasing Fall 2018–2019. Some of the members include Emma Otheguy, Tami Charles, Claribel Ortega, and Tehlor Kay Mejia.

To celebrate their launch and the upcoming annual Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15–Oct. 15), Las Musas held their first Twitter chat on Sept. 12. Some the topics discussed included what changes they would like to see in future Latinx representation, some of the Latinx characters and authors they were influenced by, and, of course, what inspired them to write their forthcoming works for children and teens.

"The idea came to me just after my debut book had been announced. I was asked to join a couple debut groups, but I noticed that the majority of those groups were made up of writers whose identities were historically privileged in this industry. Because I come from a POC (person of color) grassroots arts organizing background, I knew immediately that there could be another way," says Aida Salazar, author of the forthcoming middle grade novel The Moon Within (Scholastic). She reached out via social media to other Latinx creators, and the project began to take shape. 

"We began to blossom pretty quickly as the genius and resources of the different women came into play. We’ve spent the better part of this year solidifying our mission, vision, and impact in the children’s lit industry. After we launched, we were approached by different Latinx women and non binary folks who needed to be included. By design, this group is meant to be inclusive."

Some of the goals for the team include monthly Twitter chats, a blog post and piñata party for every release, and even virtual panels via Google Hangouts. Las Musas is also open to welcoming debut and sophomore Latinx authors/illustrators whom they might have missed.

For more information, see the press release below.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE lasmusasbooks@gmail.com

THE FIRST LATINX DEBUT/SOPHOMORE AUTHOR GROUP TO EVER FORM IN KIDLIT LAUNCHES

New York, New York, August 28, 2018 –Meet Las Musas , the first collective of women and non-binary MG and YA Latinx authors to ever form in support of their debut or sophomore books in US children’s literature. Their middle grade and young adult books to be released between Fall 2018 - 2019 span the genres of fiction from contemporary to fantasy to speculative fiction to a verse novel.

Las Musas includes Jennifer J.C. Cervantez, Tami Charles, Mia García, Isabel Ibañez Davis, Tehlor Kay Mejia, Nina Moreno, Claribel Ortega, Emma Otheguy, Laura Pohl, Michelle Ruiz Keil, Yamile Saied Méndez, Mary Louise Sanchez, and Aida Salazar. As Latinx authors, their racial, ethnic, and cultural identities are as diverse as their writing.

Las Musas’ mission is to spotlight the contribution of Latinx stories and Latinx creators in the evolving canon of children’s literature and to celebrate the diversity of voice, experience, and power in our communities.

With 52 million Latinx people in the US alone, in 2017 only 73 of 3,700 (1.9%) of children’s books were written and/or illustrated by Latinx creators. These twelve new titles by Las Musas will be published by major houses including, Arthur A. Levine Books, Disney-Hyperion, Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins), Knopf, Page Street, and Scholastic. While it is exciting that these new Latinx titles will be part of changing these statistics, there is still so much work to be done to achieve equitable representation.

Las Musas have come together, in an unprecedented effort, to amplify and support their work so that it is clear that there is, in fact, room for all of these stories and that they only begin to scratch the surface of what represents the Latinx community. Las Musas believe their alliance will help lift every single voice in solidarity and will provide a broader understanding of Latinx diversity to young readers.

To learn more, visit their website and follow them on social media for cover reveals, giveaways, Twitter chats and Google hangouts.

Website: www.LasMusasBooks.com • Email: lasmusasbooks@gmail.com Instagram: @lasmusasbooks • Twitter: @lasmusasbooks

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Shelley Diaz

Shelley M. Diaz (sdiaz@mediasourceinc.com) is  School Library Journal's Reviews Team Manager and SLJTeen newsletter editor. She has her MLIS in Public Librarianship with a Certificate in Children's & YA Services from Queens College, and can be found on Twitter @sdiaz101.

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