Sunday, March 27, 2011

Author Spotlight: Laura Resau

Whether you're looking for a good middle-grade book for your classroom or a YA novel for your teenager, Laura Resau dishes up great stories in both age groups.  What's even better, is that Resau fills her novels with culture, magic, and travel, the perfect combination for The Curious Kind and anyone wanting to open a good book and take a mental vacation away from home.

I've heard a lot of buzz about Resau's latest book Queen of the Water, a true story about a young girl taken from her family to be a servant in a Mestizo household, but I haven't yet gotten my hands on a copy.  Instead, I loaded up on every other Resau novel I could find in my local library. Here are two must-read Resau books.

Star in the Forest is a middle-grade book that deals with the subject of immigration into the U.S. This award-winging book is told from the perspective of 11-year old Zitlally whose immigrated family is struggling to make a life in their new world. While this book takes place in the U.S., I still felt like it is a travel tale. Zitlally makes the point that back in their hometown her father seemed like the smartest man in the world; he was strong and confident and knew everything, or everything he needed to know.  When they moved to the U.S., she realizes her father isn't that invincible man anymore.  Any of us who has traveled to a country where we can't speak the language, knows that helpless feeling to some degree, and anyone who hasn't had that opportunity quite yet, gets a very real insight from Resau's story.

I especially loved the way Resau included words from both the Nahuatl and Spanish languages in her story that makes it feel like genuine cross-cultural writing. She includes a short glossary in the back of the book. By the end of the book I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. This is such a heart-warming story that I'm going to have to go out and buy myself a copy to add to my own library.

Another of Resau's novels is called The Indigo Notebook. Here is the synopsis from the Laura Resau's author website:
 "15-year-old Zeeta and her flighty mother live in a different country every year. This year, in the Ecuadoran Andes, Zeeta helps an American boy search for his birth parents. With him, she encounters adventure, mystery, love, and ultimately, the truth about what she really wants. (Ages 10 & up)" 
 Where do I begin with this book? First, she states that the book is for ages 10 & up. It is a clean book, but there are many quotes from the philosophical poet Rumi that add a deep and thoughtful and sometimes comical layer to the story. It's a story that I would recommend to my teenage students and even my adult friends. If you've ever wondered what it would be like to sell everything you own and travel the world with only a suitcase to call home, this book is the perfect snapshot of that life.  Again, Resau weaves other languages into her writing in such a way that the reader comes away with more than just a story, but an experience. This is one of those books that you can lose yourself in.

Check out Laura Resau's website for info on all of her books and pictures of her travels.

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