Mundie Moms

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Radius of Us by Marie Marquardt / Meet The Illustrator, Carlos Morataya

Marie Marquardt has a new book out! THE RADIUS OF US is out now! This book was released yesterday (1/17/17) from Griffin Teen, and it's a story about love, hope, and so much more. Thank you to Griffin Teen / St. Martin's Press, I'm thrilled to share a little bit about this new release, as well as share an interview with the book's illustrator. 

ABOUT THE BOOK (from the publisher)

As a story featuring immigrants and asylum-seekers seeking refuge in the United States, the book addresses important themes as it captivates with gorgeous prose and a sweet love story.  School Library Journal said in its review that the novel is a “must-have for all YA collections.”

In addition to writing wonderful novels (her debut was Dream Things True), Marie Marquardt has spent two decades working with Latin American immigrant families in the South and runs a non-profit called El Refugio that serves immigrants and asylum-seekers in detention. This work inspired both her books. To research The Radius of Us, she traveled to El Salvador and to detention facilities across the U.S., where she met with teenagers fleeing gang violence and seeking asylum.  

Told in alternating first person points of view, The Radius of Us is about a boy from El Salvador, who ran from a city torn-through with violence, looking for a safe place to call home. And it’s about an American girl who no longer feels safe anywhere, except maybe when she’s with him. And most importantly, the novel is about two people working together to overcome trauma and find healing in love.

Purchase from: MacmillanAmazon | B&N 

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MARIE MARQUARDT is a Scholar-in-Residence at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology and author of Dream Things True. She has published articles and co-authored two non-fiction books about Latin American immigration to the U.S. South. Marie is co-chair of El Refugio, a non-profit that serves detained immigrants and their families, and a member of the We Need Diverse Books team. She lives in a busy household in Decatur, Georgia with her spouse, four children, a dog and a bearded dragon.




Carlos Alfredo Morataya was born in Guatemala City’s Zone 18. Although he says “it wasn’t that bad” when he was born, Zone 18 soon became a notorious area for criminal gang activity, in a city with one of the highest homicide rates in the western hemisphere.

Carlos never knew his parents. He lived with his grandparents until the age of eight, when his grandmother passed away. 

For the next decade, Carlos lived in an orphanage in SacatepĂ©quez—a small town about 45 minutes from Guatemala City. American missionaries often came for about a week at a time, and they took on small projects like painting the school and caring for babies. They showered attention on the orphans who lived there, playing games with them, bringing them toys and games. And when they left, many of them promised to come back. But they never did.

“It’s so sad,” Carlos said. “Those people would come and give you their time for a week, and the kids in the orphanage are like, ‘Wow, someone is coming to care for me!’ and then the missionaries are like, ‘Well time for us to go but I’ll be back next year!’ But then they never show up again.” Carlos understood that their intentions were good. But he learned, by the age of 14 or 15, never to get too close to the missionaries.

When Carlos was 18, a missionary family came from Georgia to adopt a child.  Carlos was too old to adopt, but they offered to help him come to the United States as a student. The offer was too good to pass up. So Carlos left the orphanage and didn’t look back. He came Cumming, Georgia, and enrolled in a small Christian high school on a student visa.

Over the years, those missionaries had painted a picture of the U.S. for him: “Everything there is perfect, and everything here is bad.” But Carlos quickly learned that every country has its problems, and the United States is no exception. He encountered trouble with the family and felt uncomfortable remaining in their home. He had no option but to move in with his high school counselor until he graduated from high school. 

He did so well in high school that he was offered scholarship opportunities for both art and soccer. He chose to attend the University of North Georgia. He first met Marie when she spoke at an event sponsored by the university’s Latino Student Association. They had a mutual friend, who was a student there, as well. Their friend had once been detained in the same immigration detention facility that Marie’s non-profit (El Refugio) serves. He knew that Marie was looking for an illustrator, and he told her that Carlos would be perfect. Marie sent Carlos – and several other interested young artists – a description of the drawings she needed.  

As soon as Carlos’ first drawing came to her inbox, Marie knew that she had found the illustrator for her novel, The Radius of Us. Carlos’ drawings captured so well the “voice” of her story’s twelve-year-old orphaned boy. At the time, Marie had no idea how similar Carlos’ own story was to that of the characters in her book. But as she and Carlos worked together over the course of the next few months, she learned more about him, and she developed a deep respect for him. 

Carlos remains on a student visa, and he knows that his time in the United States may be limited. But he’s not afraid of the future. “I’m a survivor,” Carlos says. “I’ve had to deal with hard things in my life, and I am ready to face whatever comes, whatever is next.” 

Carolos hopes to one day teach kids art.


THE BLACK WITCH By: Laurie Forest / Waiting on Wednesday #290

I love it when I hear about books that weren't on my radar (don't ask me how it wasn't). Now that I know about it, I can not wait to read it. Find out more about Laurie's upcoming release below. Read an excerpt on EW, here


By: Laurie Forest

Published by: Harlequin Teen
To Be Released on: May 2nd, 2017
Series: The Black Witch Chronicles #1
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Elloren Gardner is believed to be the heir apparent to her grandmother Carnissa Gardner, the last prophesied Black Witch who drove back enemy forces to save her people during the Realm War. But while Elloren looks exactly like her famous relative, she’s shown no evidence of power in a society that prizes magical ability above nearly all else. After being granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren joins her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University and is thrilled to embrace a destiny of her own. But she soon realizes that the University, which admits all kinds—including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of all Gardnerians—is a hostile place for someone with her ancestry. As Elloren makes her way through university life, she discovers unlikely friends and hidden enemies, and finds herself bonding with a colorful group of allies who just might change the world by working together.  

With its wonderfully diverse and fully realized cast of characters, featuring a flawed but endearing heroine you can’t help but cheer for, THE BLACK WITCH will mesmerize readers of all ages. This a grand adventure meant to entertain, but will also provoke thoughts about what it means to leave the familiarity of home and come face-to-face with people you’ve been taught to fear and have your most cherished beliefs painfully challenged. It’s also about accepting your true, hidden nature to find where your power lies in a complicated, troubling world. And, finally, it’s about confronting injustice, even when your own people could be guilty of some of the worst injustices of all (per the publisher).


Laurie Forest lives deep in the backwoods of Vermont where she sits in front of a wood stove drinking strong tea and dreaming up tales full of dryads, dragons and wands. The Black Witch (May 2017, HarlequinTEEN) is her first novel, and Wandfasted (The Black Witch prequel, Summer 2017, HarlequinTEEN) is her first e-book novella. Find her online at