Pig Park (Cinco Puntos, 2014): It’s crazy! Fifteen-year-old Masi Burciaga hauls bricks to help build a giant pyramid in her neighborhood park. Her neighborhood is becoming more of a ghost town each day since the lard company moved away. Even her school closed down. Her family’s bakery and the other surviving businesses may soon follow.
As a last resort, the neighborhood grown-ups enlist all the remaining able-bodied boys and girls into this scheme in hopes of luring visitors. Maybe their neighbors will come back too. But something’s not right about the entrepreneur behind it all. And then there’s the new boy who came to help. The one with the softest of lips. Pig Park is a contemporary Faustian tale that forces us to look at the desperate lengths people will go to in the name of community–and maybe love.
Pig Park is winner of the 2015 Texas Institute of Letters Best Young Adult Book Award and 2015 NAACS Tejas Foco Best YA Fiction Award. It also appears on several reading lists, including Chicago Public Library’s Books for Kids Interested in Engineering, Chicago Public School’s Recommended HS Reading 2015, We’re the People Recommended Summer Reading, 2016 CPS Elementary Battle of the BooksGrade 7-8 Official Title List, and ALAN’s Picks.
THE SMELL OF OLD LADY PERFUME (Cinco Puntos, 2008): Chela Gonzalez is a nerd and a soccer player who can barely contain her excitement about starting the sixth grade. But nothing happens as she imagines when her father is rushed to the hospital and her best friend ditches her.
SOLP is winner of the 2009 Paterson Prize for Books for Young People, the 2008 Texas Institute of Letters Best Young Adult Book Award and 2009 Americas Award Commendation. It also appears on several reading lists, including Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best, Southwest Books of the Year, ALAN’s Picks, and Teaching Tolerance.
From School Library Journal
“This is a sweet coming-of-age story, telling of the cruelties of children toward one another and dealing with the loss of a parent. The story should appeal to readers dealing with their own tween years.”—Diana Pierce
“…readers will also find the book’s loving portrayal of Chela’s family, its nicely realized setting, and its artful exploration of the problems of assimilation, to be both engaging and heartfelt.” —Michael Cart
“Martinez’s prose, always animated and descriptive, is frequently quite beautiful. She is an author to watch.”–Cathy Jacobus, Southwest Books of the Year
“The original title gives a glimpse of the poetic lines peppered throughout this poignant debut.”–Marcela Landres, Latinidad
“The Smell of Old Lady Perfume is a necessary book for anyone who needs to know that the universe isn’t ‘so large and empty.’”–Rigoberto Gonzalez, El Paso Times
Selected press clippings
In your own words, what is The Smell of Old Lady Perfume about? It’s a story about love and loss. Chela, an eleven year old growing up in a bordertown, worries about typical things like popularity and grades. Then her father gets sick, and that changes her life.
Can you explain the title? In the story, the smell of old lady perfume is the smell of bad things. When something bad happens, Chela’s relatives show up, followed by a cloud of perfume! Something pretty bad does happen.
Is this your real life story? No. It’s true that my father passed away when I was eleven, and I wanted to engage in a conversation about how loss changes a young person’s life and perspective.
Are the pictures in your book pictures of your real life? No. The book designer did a really great job though.
Tell us about writing and getting published. I’ll tell you what my parents always told me. Even when things seem tough, if you work hard and don’t give up, anything is possible.
Do you visit schools? Yes!I’ve had the opportunity to talk at several schools ranging from elementary kids to college students. It’s one the best parts of being a writer. Please use my contact page for further inquiries.
How do I contact you? Click on the Contact link on the header bar.