Latino Virtual Book Tour: Mayra Calvani

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Any child who’s ever had a pet can relate to how difficult it can be to give it the ‘right’ name. My daughter, Vanessa, has only had the chance to name a couple of fish; and she’s still so young that she interchanges a few names, depending on her mood. So, some days the red fish is called ‘pescadito‘ and other days it’s ‘Abcb’.

I don’t know if she’ll ever get to name a pet dog, though, since we already have a black Labrador named Max. Yet, I think the fact that we do have Max, made it easy for her to identify with what the protagonist of the children’s book, Chocalín, was going through in trying to find the ‘perfect’ name for his Golden Retriever puppy.

Chocalín, written by Mayra Calvani, tells the story of 5-year-old Marcelo and his first puppy. While in the process of finding a name for the dog, the author shows her readers some of what it entails to take care of a pet.

Today, we’re taking part in something called the Latino Virtual Book Tour, coordinated by author Jo Ann Hernandez, and we are hosting the author of Chocalín, Mayra Calvani. This means that throughout the day today, Mayra will be available to answer any questions or comments you have, so feel free to leave one in the comment area below.

Get to know Latina author Mayra Calvani:

Multi-genre author, reviewer and animal advocate Mayra Calvani enjoys writing for children and adults. Mayra was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, but has lived in the US, the Middle East, and now lives in Belgium. Her traveling and learning all these different cultures have been an inspiration in her writing, as having a Hispanic heritage has been as well.

A regular contributor to Blogcritics Magazine and American Chronicle, she’s a member of SCBWI, CWCC and Broad Universe. She keeps two blogs, Mayra’s Secret Bookcase and The Dark Phantom Review.

Additionally, she’s the co-author of the ForeWord Best of the Year Award winner, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing.

Visit her newest, fun blog, Pets and Their Authors, where her golden retriever interviews authors’ pets.

Mayra does Spanish translations of children’s picture books, is co-editor of Voice in the Dark newsletter, and the National Latino Books Examiner for

Check out her children’s books at Mayra’s Secret Bookcase.

How did the idea for the book come about?

In the case of Crash, about a little boy and his first golden retriever puppy, I was inspired by a sad personal experience. Years ago, because of my daughter’s allergies, we had to give away a golden retriever named Crash. The experience broke our hearts, so I decided to immortalize him. I needed to ‘let him know’ that we would never forget him—and what better way than with a book? Writing is a form of healing. A book is a very powerful thing. For me, it was the only way to put closure to a heartbreaking experience. I also wanted to take the opportunity to teach kids about the responsibility of owning a dog.

How important would you say it is for parents raising bilingual children to read to them in the minority language, in this case, Spanish?

Kids have a brain like a sponge. They absorb languages so quickly! And when you teach kids a new language, especially the minority language in your home, you’re opening new worlds and future opportunities for them. In the case of young kids, reading picture books is a must. By listening, kids absorb not only the words and meaning but also the rhythm and musicality of a language. Reading to your kids at bedtime is the most fun, effortless way to teach your kids to be bilingual.

Why was Crash translated into Spanish?

My publisher, Lynda Burch of Guardian Angel Publishing, plans to have translated a lot of the books into Spanish. I thought, why not? I thought it would be fun and an interesting experiment.

What do you think about the idea of raising bilingual children?

I think it is awesome and even a must in today’s competitive world. The more languages you teach your kids now, the more opportunities they will have in the future. Here in Belgium where I live, kids who graduate from public schools speak 4 languages: French, Dutch, English and a fourth one of their choice. This is considered normal. But in the States people complain about learning a second one. I just don’t get it.

The Latino Virtual Book Tour with Mayra Calvani continues the rest of the month at the following blogs:

Sept. 11: Writing to Insanity – Article: “How to Write a Great Blurb”

Sept. 14: Efrain’s Corner – Guest Post: “I Hated Reading When I Was a Kid”

Sept. 16: Christina Rodriguez’s blog – Guest Post: “On the Author & Illustrator Relationship”

Sept. 17: Unloaded – Guest Post: “The Responsibilities of Owning a Dog”

Sept. 18: Chasing Heroes – Guest Post: “Heroes Must be Angels and Demons”


Mayra has been kind enough to offer a copy of one of her children’s book–you can choose either Chocalín, it’s English version, Crash or her other children’s book, The Magic Violin–to one lucky winner. All you have to do is leave a comment, it’s that easy! You have until tonight, September 10th at midnight EST to win this giveaway!

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