I’m very pleased to shine the spotlight on author Monica Brown and her chapter book series Lola Levine! So far there are four books in the series starring vivacious and kind-hearted Lola. Lola Levine, Drama Queen is a Bluebonnet nominee in Texas. Awesome! Stay tuned below for a chance to win the most recent book in the series:
Lola Levine Meets Jelly and Bean by Monica Brown, illustrated by Angela Dominguez
Lola Levine is excited! This summer break she is getting a kitten. Lola and her brother, Ben, prepare to welcome a new pet by reading books, designing a cat castle, and finally going to the animal shelter to pick out a kitty. But Lola’s happiness soon turns to distress when she realizes Ben might be allergic to Jelly, her kitten. Will Lola be able to keep her new pet?
Can you tell us a little about how you came up with Lola Levine and her stories? How did you develop Lola as a character?
Lola’s story is my own, and that of my cousins, siblings, and community. I grew up in a large, loving diverse Latino/a community and I wanted to depict children like myself and my own that are bicultural, bilingual, biracial, and so much more. I am Peruvian, Jewish, and European and can trace my ancestry across the Américas, Africa, and Europe. Lola Levine can’t be described in fractions and I don’t think any child should be. Our multicultural children are whole just as they are. My own daughters, Isabella and Juliana inspired Lola and other characters in the book, but she is a person of her own—funny, fierce, passionate, dramatic, loud, smart—a super soccer fanatic that has a beautiful, honest way with words. When I write I slip into what I call Lolaworld, and it is a loving, challenging, fun place to be.
In LOLA LEVINE MEETS JELLY AND BEAN, Lola is excited to adopt a kitten. What was your inspiration and spark for this story?
I love animals and at one point my house had two dogs, two Guinea Pigs, and two fish. Our two dogs are still with us, Ollie and Finn. As a child I always wanted a cat, but I, like my mother, was severely allergic to them, so I got a wonderful dog instead. This book is about children and animals, but a lot more too. It’s about what we do when our wants conflict with what is right. Lola loves Jelly, but her brother is allergic. She and Ben learn the hard way, that health, and taking care of our bodies, is always best. It’s also about making mistakes, and how we grow from them in the context of family. I don’t believe there is such a thing as “bad” kids. Rather, children are inherently good, and like adults, make mistakes.
Lola’s favorite drink is chicha morada from Peru – made from purple corn, spices, and pineapple. It sounds delicious and I sure would love to try some! What is your favorite drink and why?
As a child, my most favorite, special drink was one that I could ONLY have when we were in Peru—Inca Kola! It is a sweet, fizzy, neon yellow cola drink that tastes like bubble gum. It’s now available (if you are in the know) in the United States, wherever Peruvians are found:). I must confess that aside from water, my most favorite drink is one that is intimately tied to my writing life—coffee!! We have some amazing local roasters in this town, and I am, in fact, answering these questions in one of my favorite coffee shops!
Monica Brown, Ph.D. is the award-winning author of many multicultural books for children. Her books have received numerous honors and starred reviews. She wrote the Chistopher-Award winner Waiting for the Biblioburro, illustrated by John Parra, and the Marisol McDonald picture book series, which includes Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/no combina; Marisol McDonald and the Clash Bash/y la fiesta sin igual, and Marisol McDonald and the Monster/y el monstruo all illustrated by Sara Palacios. Her most recent creation is the unique, fabulous Lola Levine, who stars in Monica’s first chapter book series, which includes Lola Levine is Not Mean!, Lola Levine, Drama Queen, and the forthcoming Lola Levine and the Ballet Scheme (Fall 2016) and Lola Levine Meets Jelly and Bean (Winter 2017). Her next picture book will be Frida and her Animalitos, from North South Press.
Monica Brown is also a Professor of English at Northern Arizona University where she teaches Chicano/a, U.S. Latino/a, and African American Literature.
For more about Monica and her books, check out her Lola Levine web site where you can download an educator’s guide, her author web site, and follow her on Facebook,
To win a copy of Lola Levine Meets Jelly and Bean for yourself, a young reader, or a school or library, follow these directions to enter the drawing:
1. Comment on this post by Saturday, May 6 by midnight EST. A winner will be drawn at random and announced on Wednesday, May 10. Be sure to include your email address.
2. Entrants must have a US mailing address.
EDITED TO ADD: Congratulations Colleen M. for winning a copy of Lola Levine Meets Jelly and Bean!