Newbery Medalist Katherine Paterson has written her first middle grade novel in more than five years: My Brigadista Year, a work of historical fiction due out from Candlewick on October 10. Set in Cuba after the revolution, the novel follows 13-year-old Lora as she volunteers for Fidel Castro’s national literacy campaign, against a backdrop of violence and political unrest. The cover, illustrated by Pura Belpré Medalist and Tomás Rivera Children’s Book Award winner Rafael López, is revealed here for the first time.
Born in China to missionary parents, Paterson moved to the U.S. as a child. She is the author of more than 30 books, served as the second National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and has traveled the world promoting literacy. Paterson’s travels to Cuba inspired her to explore the history of the brigadistas in greater depth. “Katherine first told me about the brigadistas because she believed what these young people had accomplished really needed to be known and remembered by a wider audience,” said Karen Lotz, president and publisher of Candlewick Press. “She said she thought it might be a good nonfiction book.”
The project eventually took on the form of a novel. “When we talked it over, it was clear to me immediately that the material had really captured Katherine’s imagination, and I encouraged her to try her hand at telling the story herself,” Lotz said. “From that point on, it evolved from nonfiction to novel. I was so thrilled and grateful when she said it was a novel she thought she might do with Candlewick.” Lotz believes that the cover “captures the spirit, excitement, adventure, and serious quality” of the story’s setting.