Southwest Children's Literature

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Carlos and the Skunk/Carlos y el zorrillo

Author Interview with Jan Romero-Stevens:

This is a photograph of Jan Romero-Stevens.

Q. You choose to publish your "Carlos" books in English and Spanish. Will you explain how you got this idea, and what motivated you to do so?
A. I wanted the books in Spanish and English because the language is such an important part of the culture of New Mexico. I also thought by having a fun story, children could more easily learn English -- or Spanish, if they only speak English.

Q. I see in the book jacket that Carlos and the Skunk was based on a true incident. Are the other "Carlos" stories true, too?
A. All the "Carlos" stories are based on something that happened to someone in my family or an event that someone told me about. Of course, most of the time, the true stories are highly embellished to make them more fun.

Q. In this book Carlos is "coming of age" so to speak and you handle it (through your characters and plot) with a lot of compassion. Will you elaborate on your creative processes that influenced this perspective?
A. My mother and father were nearly perfect parents, and I try to handle Carlos with the kind of compassion they gave to me. And of course, my own goal is to be a patient, compassionate mother!

Q. The art in your book has a beautiful folk art look and adds to the authenticity of your story. Did you collaborate with the illustrator?
A. I have never met the illustrator for my "Carlos" books or my new book. It's the publisher's job to find the illustrator and carry out all the communication. I do get to see the sketches as they come in and have input, but ultimately, it's the publisher's say. Luckily we've never had any disagreements about that. I sometimes provide photographs of something I want in the story (like the church exterior and interior in Carlos and the Skunk) because I have it pictured a certain way.

Q. How much of your own childhood is like that of Carlos and Gloria?
A. There are many aspects of my childhood interwoven into my books as well as many aspects of my children's lives now. I try in all the "Carlos" books to get across the closeness of the families and the land, their families, religion and food.

Q. What do you like most about being an author?
A. What I like most is reading my books to children and watching them enjoy them. There's nothing better than that!


  Note: Sadly, Jan Romero Stevens died on February 21, 2000. Her last book, Carlos Digs to China, will be published in 2001. We will miss her, and we are thankful for the Carlos stories she has left us.


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