Hello there, I'm Libby Martinez. For about twenty years, I forgot how to daydream...and then one day, I remembered how. I am the co-author of two children's picture books - "I Pledge Allegiance" and "Bravo, Chico Canta! Bravo!". My mother, the acclaimed author Pat Mora, was my writing partner for both of these books.
In addition to writing children’s books and poetry, I also very much enjoy commissioned/freelance writing projects (fiction and nonfiction). I’ve worked with leading educational publishers and understand Lexile scoring as well as tight budgets and tight deadlines. I'm honored to be working with the CDC on a new children's book tied to their national Learn the Signs. Act Early. developmental milestone awareness campaign.
Prior to becoming a children's book author and poet, I worked in the Texas political arena, served as the director of school and community partnerships for the Philadelphia Zoo, and founded a consulting and grant writing practice. I am a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and Stanford Law School. I live in Madrid, Spain with my husband and an imaginary hamster named Ampersand.
Chico Canta, the youngest of 12, is a tiny, mischievous, fearless mouse who lives with his family in an old theater. They love to go upstairs to see the plays and echo the audience shouting, “Bravo, bravo!” as the curtain falls. Mrs. Canta speaks many languages — not only English, Spanish, and Italian, but Spider, Cricket, and Moth as well. And she encourages her children to develop their own language skills. “Bilingual, bravo!” she is always telling them. One evening, after a wonderful performance of The Three Little Pigs, the mouse family narrowly escapes Little Gato-Gato. But, undaunted and inspired by the production, they decide to mount their own version of the play. On opening night, however, it is tiny Chico who is the star of the show when he spots Little Gato-Gato in the shadows and uses his own special gift for languages to avert disaster.
Junior Library Guild Selection - Spanish Edition
A Diverse Summer Reading List for Kids
(National Public Radio)
Stage Adaptation 2016
(Brave Little Company - Houston)
Tejas Star Reading List 2015-2016
(Texas Library Association)
Luminarias Master List 2015-2016
Featured Title – StoryWalk
(Patchogue-Medford Library – New York)
“The story makes bilingualism equally appealing, offering the message of language education with subtlety and humor. This is a truly wonderful new picturebook.”
- Bookbird – Journal of International Children’s Literature
“This story is a celebration of diversity that invites audience participation and has great potential as a readers’ theater piece for the younger set. Recommended.”
- Library Media Connection
“This is a story that reflects the experiences of children across the world growing up speaking a number of different languages, and the authors create a little character with whom readers can relate.”
- Canadian Review of Materials
"Food for thought for monolingual mouselings—not to mention their parents and teachers."
- Kirkus Reviews
"Spanish and Italian words are scattered throughout, giving readers a chance to pick up new words themselves."
- Publishers Weekly
Libby's great aunt, Lobo, is from Mexico, but the United States has been her home for many years, and she wants to become a U.S. citizen. At the end of the week, Lobo will say the Pledge of Allegiance at a special ceremony. Libby is also learning the Pledge this week, at school—at the end of the week, she will stand up in front of everyone and lead the class in the Pledge. Libby and Lobo practice together—asking questions and sharing stories and memories—until they both stand tall and proud, with their hands over their hearts.
Denton Record-Chronicle Best Children’s Picture Book
(Texas Institute of Letters)
Best Children's Fiction Picture Book 2015 (tied for First Place)
(International Latino Book Awards)
Kentucky Bluegrass Award Master List 2016
Grand Canyon Reader Award Nominee 2016
(Arizona Library Association)
CCBC Choices 2015 List
(Cooperative Children’s Book Center)
Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2015
(Children’s Book Council & National Council for the Social Studies)
Cream of the Crop for Children's and Young Adult Literature 2015
(Maine State Library)
Scholastic Clubs & Fairs Selection 2014
Best & Brightest Children’s Books 2014
(Denver Public Library)
Best Picture Books of 2014
(Greenburgh Public Library - New York)
My America: Stories and Celebrations Booklist
Featured Title – Reading Rock Stars
(Texas Book Festival - Austin & Rio Grande Valley)
Featured Title – Storybooks on Stage
(Stories on Stage – Denver)
Featured Illustrations – The Original Art Exhibit
(Society of Illustrators - New York)
"This is an essential purchase."
- School Library Journal
"Intertextual historical facts make this book a shoo-in for social-studies units on the United States..."
- Kirkus Reviews
"...this gentle book explores what it means to be an American from the perspective of both a child and new citizen."
- School Library Journal
"Spanish words appear occasionally, in keeping with the melting-pot theme, and Barton's art easily conveys Libby and Lobo's loving rapport."
- Publishers Weekly
Watch First Book's CEO talk about I Pledge Allegiance on MSNBC
Watch Libby's interview at the Texas Book Festival
Hooray for holidays! The next book in The Poetry Friday Anthology series, The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations, features poems in English and Spanish by 115 poets for 150+ holidays and celebrations, including: Random Acts of Kindness Week, Children’s Book Week, World Laughter Day, National Camping Month, International Literacy Day, Global Hand Washing Day, and more! It’s available in a Teacher/Librarian Edition and a Student Edition.
Look for my poems "Jackson" and "Red, White, and Blue" inside!
Watch Libby Read "Jackson" and "Red, White, & Blue"
Former Children's Poet Laureate Kenn Nesbitt presents a blockbuster anthology of all-new children's poetry. Illuminated with dreamlike wit and whimsy by New York Times illustrator and award-winning artist Christoph Niemann, One Minute Till Bedtime is sure to become a new bedtime classic. Look for my poem "The Tadpole Bowl" inside!
Since I live overseas in Spain, a Skype visit is a fun option for connecting with students about the power of stories and creativity!Contact Libby
“I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it.” - Mae West
“You've got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down." - Ray Bradbury
"It is never too late to be what you might have been." - George Eliot