F. ISABEL CAMPOY is an author who crossed our path during our last MCCBD 2016 event. Her books are vibrant, sweet and clevel and we love the fact that many are in Spanish as well. We especially loved her book Maybe Something Beautiful.
Maybe Something Beautiful is the triumph of a community against the darker forces of social decay. Mira, the protagonist, decides one day to paste her drawing of a sun on one of the dark walls of an alley on her way back from school, just to bring brightness to the smiles of her neighbors. The force of that sun’s attraction transformed those streets and the lives of their neighbors, forever.
We invited Isabel to stop by and share some the thoughts and wisdom surrounding her successful career.
About The Author
Isabel is the author of numerous children’s books in the areas of poetry, theatre, stories, biographies, and art. As a researcher she has published extensively bringing to the curriculum an awareness of the richness of the Hispanic culture. She is an educator specialized in the area of literacy and home school interaction, topics on which she lecturers nationally. An internationally recognized scholar devoted to the study of language acquisition, a field in which she started publishing in l973 after obtaining her degree in English Philology from Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain; and post graduate work in Reading University in England, and UCLA in the United States.
Her many accolades include ALA Notables, the San Francisco Library Award, the Reading the World Award from the University of San Francisco, the NABE Ramón Santiago Award, the International Latino Children’s Book Award, and nine Junior Library Guild selections. She is a member of the North American Academy of Spanish Language.
1. What was your inspiration for Maybe Something Beautiful?
Art has always occupied an important part of my life. I was locked in the local museum in my town once (it was rarely visited by anyone…and they couldn’t imagine that a young girl was still in their galleries….). I paint (not well, but I like it). I have published four books of art,anthologies with pictures and poems of important painters in the Hispanic world, and one day I was giving a presentation about art and Theresa Howell was in the audience. She is my co-author in Maybe Something Beautiful, a book that has linked our lives with the real inspiration of the book Rafael and Candice López, the muralists. This books tells the true story of this couple who once lived in a grey city they wanted to make beautiful (a neighborhood of San Diego), and with the collaboration of a diverse community, they did change it! Now that is called the “Urban Arts Trail” in San Diego.
2. Who is your mentor or biggest influencer when it comes to your writing?
Most of the writers I admire and love wrote in Spanish, the Nobel prize winners Juan Ramón Jimenez from Spain, Gabriela Mistral from Chile, Gabriel García Márquez from Colombia, Mario Vargas Llosa from Perú, Pablo Neruda also from Chile. I think that I am a mix of all I have read…translated into children literature! Alma Flor Ada is my mentor and great influencer, and for a long time my co-author.
3. If you were to let parents, teachers and librarians know ONE THING about Maybe
Something Beautiful?..what would that one thing be? This true story exemplifies what a community can do working together. The book is an example of what César Chávez repeated incessantly “Sí se puede” “Yes we can.” Also that art is a wonderful communicator.
4. Where do you see yourself in five years?
I have published over one hundred books, poetry, fiction, non-fiction. I have told stories that aspire to give children the power to be themselves, unique, without fear. I hope I have the energy for a hundred more!
5. If you were to give any advice to the those who dream of writing and publishing a book, what advice would you give? Don’t think you are sitting down to write a book. Think that you are writing a page, or a paragraph. Books are written like that…one page at a time. But write one page each day if it is a true vocation. Don’t stop because you think nobody will publish it. Now we fortunately have “Creative Space” in Amazon that publish everything you care to write!
6. What are you most grateful for?
The conscience that we are a small planet in the universe and that I was lucky enough to be one of the living creatures in this planet.
7. What would you like readers to know about Isabel Campoy?
I asked Alma Flor, who has published multiple books about her biography, when she thought it was a good age to publish one’s biography, to what she responded: “before you forget it!” I laughed but then (last year) I was asked to be a featured author in the book “ContemporaryAuthors,” and a few months ago I had the fortune of seeing photos of my parents and my life published together with some important descriptions of my biography. You can read about it in: Contemporary Authors.Vol. 365. Michael J. Tyrkus, Ed. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale, 2015.Pages 62-85.
But in a few words, I want readers to know that I am a fighter, a rebel, a feminist, a Latina and a very proud bilingual woman.