Even though I’d hardly known Diana Lopez for five minutes, when I asked her to be a Friend Friday guest, she immediately said yes! It was at a Scholastic event with lots of conversation and other authors; we sort of had to shout across the table to one another to be heard. But I was thrilled when I heard that “yes.” At that point, I hadn’t read any of her books but I sensed that they would be full of heart, like her. And they are! So I cannot wait for Diana to tell you more about her latest, Lucky Luna (Scholastic).
We’re told not to judge books by their covers, but would-be readers can’t help it. They judge. That’s why authors wait with both excitement and a bit of trepidation when it comes to the cover reveal. We wonder . . . will the cover appeal to the targeted audience? Will it stand out in a sea of other attractive book covers? Will it capture the spirit of the story?
When Scholastic sent me the cover for LUCKY LUNA ( Scholastic, 2018), I couldn’t contain my excitement. With her smile and quirky hat, the girl on the cover wonderfully captures the fun-loving and mischievous nature of the protagonist. Even more amazing is that she could be any one of my primas (girl cousins).
And that’s important because the jacket flap says, “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your primas.” It’s true—you can’t choose them. They can be fun, adventurous, dull, or annoying, and at family get-togethers—and our family has a lot—you get stuck with them. This is great!—sometimes. But other times, you get caught in the middle of someone else’s fight or become the subject of their chisme (gossip).
Cousins know a bunch of embarrassing stuff about you, too. They’re around when you try silly daredevil moves, when you fall in love and get dumped, when your body changes before your wardrobe can catch up. They’re the ones who get you in trouble or bail you out, who tattle or keep your secrets.
I can’t think of a richer source of inspiration than diving into my history with my cousins. That’s why LUCKY LUNA is like a love letter to all the primas I grew up with. It’s a story about a fifth-grader who loves hats, rabbits, and her primas—except when they’re gossiping or fighting, which happens a lot more than she’d like.
When Luna’s banned from wearing hats and learns that Prima Claudia (her chief rival) is transferring to her school, she panics and runs to her grandmother for advice. Only problem? Luna doesn’t know Spanish, the only language her grandmother speaks. This doesn’t stop her from trying to understand, but instead of solving problems, Luna’s misinterpretations get her in deeper trouble. This is the bad luck part of the book. The good luck part is that her cousins help her out.
When I visit schools, I ask the students, “How many of you have cousins?” Almost all the hands go up. Then I ask, “How many of you have ever had a fight with a cousin?” Guess what! Most of the hands stay up.
That’s why I’m excited to share LUCKY LUNA with our young readers. They will probably relate to fights with cousins, but hopefully, they’ll also realize that even though we can’t choose them, our cousins are often our best friends.
I remember clearly when a cousin of a classmate moved into town and was suddenly in the fourth grade class with us. Kim and Kari couldn’t have seemed more different from each other, and I remember watching them with great interest for the next two years. I could have used Lucky Luna then! What a great topic for middle graders.