Thursday, November 11, 2010


Mara Price’s debut children’s book, Grandma's Chocolate / El Chocolate De Abuelita, is a charming celebration of the origin of chocolate, which comes from the cacao tree first cultivated by Mexico's indigenous tribes. The bilingual story depicts a loving relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter, and shares the history and customs of the native peoples of Mexico.

The book debuts on November 30 from Piñata Books, but Mara is already hard at work spreading the word. As a first-time author, she knows that promoting takes time and money, and that it is a necessary and important part of an author or illustrator’s life. The first year of a book’s life is crucial, since it is its time in the spotlight; Mara has been preparing for her book launch for over a year. Here, she shares here experiences and a few tips for authors and illustrators:

Recently, a friend called to let me know she had read my book. She said, “I grew up on a cacao plantation. Your book brought memories of my childhood. I recalled my grandma, and the smell of cacao being ground in the morning.” That made me very happy. I want lots of people to enjoy my book in their own ways.

A few months ago, I called a local bookstore to ask if they worked with local authors. The kind lady that answered the phone asked for the name of my book. During our conversation, she looked it up on the Internet and scheduled me for a book signing. Wow! I was really surprised. My first book signing! She wanted to know if I knew more authors, and ended up signing up two of my colleagues for books signings as well. This positive experience encouraged me to seek more contacts by phone, or e-mail.

Here are some more basic tips for book promotion:

Writing groups and associations

Over the years I have met wonderful writers and illustrators. I am a member of SCBWI, CABE, and other groups. Beyond the value of networking, these groups have brought me wonderful friendships. Join professional groups. Attend workshops that will give you the tools for promotion that you are missing.

Business cards

A business card is a must. Keep it simple.

Make one with good paper and a professional-looking design.

You should have a logo or a brand that is consistent.

Include your name, website address, phone number (if desired), and e-mail

(Do not include your home address.)


There are many ways to do a website. I made mine on Weebly. Having my own website helps since I can tailor it and add to it as things develop. A website is a valuable tool for an author and illustrator since you can adapt it to your needs.

Try to have it up six months before your book is out. When you get reviews, be sure to put them up on your website. Include all of your promotional/publicity efforts there as well.

Postcards and Bookmarks:

I have used my postcards and bookmarks at two different kinds of fairs and they are invaluable. At fairs people are scanning, not really taking the time to see what you have. Hand them a postcard with a brief pitch. It is a hook for them to get back. And they often do. Make sure you postcards and bookmarks look professional.

Color Flyer and Brochure

These provide more information. You can design and print one-page flyers inexpensively yourself. A brochure should be professionally made with graphics, photos and text, and include inserts of your reviews. They are great for school presentations.

Video Trailer/Media

I recently took part in radio program, and it was a great experience.

Book Blog Tour

The more people you reach, the better. It’s difficult to assess whether this way of promoting yields results, but many authors and illustrators are doing blog tours. I hope people will visit my blog tour and leave comments.

Mara's blog Tour

Monday, November 15


Grandma’s Chocolate/El chocolate de Abuelita Trailer

by Yuyi Morales

Tuesday, November 16

On Beyond Words and Pictures

Chocolate recipe and the importance of chocolate in Meso-America

by Megan Frances

Wednesday, November 17

La Bloga

The story behind the story

by Rene Colato Lainez

Thursday, November 18

Out of the Paintbox

Mara Price interview

by Diane Browning

Friday, November 19

Latin Baby Book Club

Book giveaway

By Monica Olivera Hazelton

You can meet Mara in person at:

November 20

Author Reading

12:00 p.m.

Panamerican Bank

The Chidren’s Reading Hour

3626 East 1st Street,

Los Angeles, CA 90063-2396

November 20

Author Presentation

3:00 p.m.

Xokolatl Cafe

4987 Huntington Drive North

Los Angeles, CA 90032

December 11

Author Presentation

11:30 a.m.

Traveling Stories

San Diego World Beat Cultural Center

2100 Park Blvd

San Diego, CA

December 11

Author Presentation

2:00 - 4:00 p.m.

SCBWI Holiday Book Sale

Room 106 at the Hahn School of Nursing

University of San Diego

San Diego, CA

December 11

Author Signing

6:00 p.m.

Readers Inc.

8219 La Mesa Blvd.,

La Mesa, CA 91942

Here are a few words of early praise for Grandma's Chocolate / El Chocolate De Abuelita:

A review by Kirkus :

Sabrina’s much-loved grandmother’s latest visit from Mexico is filled with gifts and interesting tidbits about chocolate, Mayan culture and history. Musical instruments, a traditional blouse (huipil) and pretty ribbons to weave in her hair allow Sabrina to play, dress and feel like a Mayan princess. Sabrina is mostly intrigued by the chocolate bars, which come from the all-important cacao tree, the seeds of which were used by the Mayans in their religious observances, bartering practices and, of course, the making of hot and cold chocolate treats. A gentle, well-translated bilingual text infused with a wise and loving family elder’s teaching is accompanied by earthy, gouache paintings of a round-figured abuelita with her beautiful, Mayan-featured granddaughter. Loose, tan-colored drawings of ancient Mayan scenes are frequently juxtaposed against the full-color modern settings to emphasize Sabrina’s cultural heritage; when she and her abuelita go to the market, for instance, they are depicted straddling two worlds, a monochromatic ancient Mexico on the left, and a modern supermarket on the right. A sweet and loving way to introduce history through family connections.

A review by Publishers Weekly:

There’s no shortage of princess books on the shelves, but few, if any, like this. In Price’s bilingual story, Sabrina’s visiting grandmother tells her stories about her Mexican heritage, braids ribbons into her hair, and gives her gifts, such a huipil, a traditional blouse. “When you put on this huipil, you will look like a Mayan Princess,” she tells Sabrina. After some lessons about the history of cacao, they make hot chocolate (just like Mayan princesses used to drink, to Sabrina’s delight).

Fields’ strongest paintings are those of the rosy–cheeked family, which make evident the influence of their cultural roots and the strength of their intergenerational bonds.

A review by Jose B. Gonzalez from

There is a reason why Arte Publico is one of the leading publishers of quality children's literature in the country. And this book is proof that this tradition will not be going away anytime soon. It's impossible to read Grandma's Chocolate/El Chocolate de Abuelita by Mara Price without getting a craving for some authentic chocolate made by Grandma.

This book is told from the chocolate brown-eyed girl, Sabrina, who welcomes her grandmother home upon her visit from Mexico. As children are wont to do, Sabrina asks her grandmother what she has brought for her. And as grandmothers are wont to do, Sabrina's grandmother goes through her suitcase and shares the various gifts she has brought from Mexico. Among this assortment are: drums, a whistle shaped like a dove, colorful hair ribbons, a huipil, and Mexican chocolate.

The huipil, "a traditional blouse worn by Mayan and Aztec women," sets off a series of questions from Sabrina about these cultures and their traditions. Sabrina gets a lesson from her grandmother on Mayan princesses, cacao seeds and most notably, chocolate. This section of the book is what gives it its identity. Combined with the colorful illustrations by Lisa Fields, the story is sure to appeal to children. Aztec and Mayan images are juxtaposed against images of Sabrina and her grandmother in various settings--at school, at the outdoor market, and at the dinner table. The reader gets fascinating lessons on the process of making chocolate, and the author describes it in a manner that would make any reader crave for more.

Sometimes, it's fairly easy to predict a book's future, and in this case, I can't help but think that Grandma's Chocolate/El Chocolate de Abuelita will win awards. The bilingual book is unique, the character interactions are touching, and most importantly, the plot will captivate any child who has ever taken a joyous bite of chocolate. Mara Price has written a delightfully delicious tale that will educate and entertain.

For more information about Mara Price, please visit her website.


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