Faculty Spotlight: Artist-in-Residence Matt de la Peña

Our Artist-in-Residency program celebrates the commitment and work brought forth by our artists to the field of children’s literature. To date, this program has hosted Meg Medina, Jerry and Eileen Spinelli, Suzanne Bloom, Laurie Halse Anderson, and Kathryn Erskine.
Artists in Residence

Most recently, Kathy Erskine worked alongside six writers. Kathy worked on two projects while on campus, including a novel-in-verse and a contemporary teen road trip novel. We know that Kathy’s work both as a teacher and as a writer will have a far-reaching impact on children, and we felt fortunate to host her as an Artist-in-Residency this spring. In the coming months, we will honor three additional Artists-in-Residency: Varian Johnson, Denise Fleming, and Matt de la Peña.

Matt de la Peña’s residency begins August 23, 2017. He is the author of several novels for teens, including the highly honored Mexican WhiteBoy. Matt’s fiction for teens floods his readers with voice and emotion. In his picture books, essays, and collaborations, Matt’s writing is equally full of heart.

Last Stop on Market StreetIn 2016, Matt’s second picture book, Last Stop On Market Street, won the Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King honor for both words and illustrations. Of his upcoming residency, Matt said, “What a tremendous honor to be considered for the Highlights Foundation’s Artist-in-Residency program. In August, I will be working on an older YA. The main character, Diego, is 19, and he’s about to be the first in his family to go to college (Columbia University) — IF he can get over the guilt he feels for leaving his family behind. He feels like a sellout for succeeding. The book is all about Diego’s navigation of two significant pulls: loyalty to family and intellectual ambition.”

Up to eight writers can join Matt de la Peña in his residency. While on campus, these writers can learn more about Matt’s work, share meals and conversation, and take part in informal feedback sessions.

Matt de la PeñaMatt de la Peña is the New York Times-bestselling, Newbery Medal-winning author of six young adult novels (including Mexican WhiteBoyThe Living and The Hunted) and two picture books (A Nation’s Hope and Last Stop on Market Street). Matt received his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University and his BA from the University of the Pacific, where he attended school on a full athletic scholarship for basketball. de la Peña currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his family. He teaches creative writing and visits high schools and colleges throughout the country.

Posted on: June 26, 2017

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