Classical 91.7-Arte Público Author of the Month: Judith Ortiz Cofer

Judith Ortiz Cofer is November's Classical 91.7/Arte Público Press Author of the Month.  Classical 91.7's Eric Ladau spoke with Ms. Cofer for this installment of the monthly series. Click to listen to the in-depth interview (47 minutes).

Renowned author Judith Ortiz Cofer steps into the world of children’s literature with her first bilingual picture book, ¡A BAILAR! LET’S DANCE!

A bailar! There’s music in the park today—let’s dance!” Marita and her mother are finishing their Saturday chores and anticipating Papi’s salsa concert in the park, so Mami makes the broom her dance partner to show her daughter how to dance to the music. “Listen to the claves, the bongos, and the cowbells. Listen to the maracas, the timbales, and the güiro, they will tell you how to move your shoulders, your hips, your feet.”

That afternoon, they put on their best dresses and dancing shoes and lead a parade of neighbors and friends dancing and singing their way to the concert. And at the park, Papi plays notes on his trombone that are a secret between him and Marita: te veo, te ve-o, te ve-o. I see you, I see you, I see you!

Judith Ortiz Cofer’s lyrical text combining English and Spanish is complemented by Christina Ann Rodriguez’s vibrant images of the neighborhood’s unique characters—viejitos, fruit sellers, boys on skateboards and even babies—reveling in the beat of the music. Families will delight in reading together this warm, energetic look at one community’s enjoyment of the sights and sounds of music for everyone!

JUDITH ORTIZ COFER, the Regents' and Franklin Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Georgia, is an award-winning poet, novelist and prose writer whose work deals with her bilingual, bicultural experience as a Puerto Rican woman living on the Mainland. She is the author of numerous books, including Silent Dancing: A Partial Remembrance of a Puerto Rican Childhood (Piñata Books, 1991), included in The New York Public Library’s 1991 Best Book For The Teen Age and recipient of a PEN citation, Martha Albrand Award for non-fiction, and a Pushcart Prize; and An Island Like You (Peter Smith Publisher Inc., 1999), recipient of the Pura Belpré Award and named an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, and an ALA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. Other books for young adults include Call Me María (Orchard, 2004), The Meaning of Consuelo (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003) and If I Could Fly (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011).

CHRISTINA ANN RODRIGUEZ obtained her BFA in illustration from the University of Hartford. Her work has been included in various publications, including Spider Magazine. She lives and works in Jackson, New Jersey. 

Arte Público Press is the nation's largest and most established publisher of contemporary and recovered literature by U.S. Hispanic authors.  Its imprint for children and young adults, Piñata Books, is dedicated to the realistic and authentic portrayal of the themes, languages, characters, and customs of Hispanic culture in the United States. Based at the University of Houston, Arte Público Press, Piñata Books, the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage project, and ¡Salud, familia! provide the most widely recognized and extensive showcase for Hispanic literary arts and creativity.  For more information, please visit www.artepublicopress.com.

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Eric Ladau

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NightClassics host and Station Tour Coordinator Eric Ladau graduated from Illinois State University in 1979 with a Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication...