Hushed silence in a classroom of over 60 fifth grade students is a rare occurrence. However, as beloved Latino author Angela Cervantes stood in front of the crowd of tweens, she had captured their attention and their imagination.
A Kansas City native and Scholastic Publishing author, Cervantes visited Foreign Language Academy on May 16 to visit with fifth grade students who had read and studied her award-winning novel Gaby, Lost and Found.
She took students on an entertaining bilingual journey through the engaging plot twists and intricate characters of her story. Cervantes wrote Gaby, Lost and Found based on a moving experience during a visit to Honduras as well as watching a girl walk her cat. For additional inspiration, Cervantes started volunteering with rescue animals in the Kansas City area.
As Cervantes spoke with students about the book, available in both English and Spanish, Cervantes told her own story of becoming a writer and the hard work associated with the process. After originally submitting her manuscript to 16 of the nation’s top publishing companies, she was disappointed when none of the publishers liked her story. However, she didn’t give up. Cervantes contacted the publishers to ask if they would re-read the manuscript if she reworked the story – 15 agreed. It is through that rework that Cervantes felt the story of Gaby and her cat had fully blossomed.
“Don’t give up if you don’t make it the first time,” Cervantes said to the room full of students. “What would have happened if I gave up after the first round of rejection letters? My book would not have been published. But I tried again and with perseverance, Scholastic called and asked to publish my book.”
Cervantes’ other books include: Allie, First At Last, the junior novelization for Disney/Pixar’s animated-film Coco as well as Me, Frida and the Secret of the Peacock Ring. Her next middle grade novel is scheduled to be released by Scholastic in 2019.