VAIL — On June 26, The Literacy Project of Eagle County welcomes critically acclaimed young adult author Matt de la Pena to speak at the Sebastian in Vail Village. Recognized for telling the stories of real life, multi-cultural characters, de la Pena shares the connection to his real life story.
Once a fearful reader and self-conscious soul in a society driven by a foreign language, de la Pena learned to read English, consumed himself privately within his new passion and blossomed in creative writing. He is best known for his titles “Ball Don’t Lie,” “Mexican White Boy,” “We Were Here” and “I Will Save You” and the award-winning picture book “A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis.” In 2013, his fifth young adult novel, “The Living,” was released, along with his first middle grade novel, “Curse of the Ancients.”
De la Pena dives into new and adventurous territory with “The Living,” winner of this year’s Pura Belpre Award.
“It’s an action-driven disaster novel,” he said. “I wanted to take my usual mixed-race, working class characters and put them in a bigger context. Why? I want to reveal to a wider audience the heart and dignity (as well as the flaws) of kids growing up on the ‘wrong side of the tracks.’
“Today when I write my own novels, I try to craft the best possible stories, and I certainly aim to be entertaining, but I’m also conscious of the powerful function literature can serve — especially in the lives of kids growing up the way I did.”
De la Pena has also published short fiction and essays in various newspapers and literary journals, including The New York Times, NPR.org, Pacific Review, One Teen Story, The Vincent Brothers Review, Chiricu, George Mason Review and Allegheny Literary Review. “Ball Don’t Lie” was made into a major motion picture released in the fall of 2011 by Night and Day Pictures. The book was named as an ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Adults and an ALA-YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers.
De la Pena 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. He currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. He teaches creative writing and visits high schools and colleges throughout the country.
The Literacy Project of Eagle County helps adults and children acquire English reading, writing and speaking skills that will help them thrive in our community
The Literacy Project is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that provides all levels of English language tutoring to adults and children through volunteerism and financial support. Adult, middle school, and family and children programs are available for free.
For more information about Matt de la Pena and the programs offered by The Literacy Project of Eagle County, contact Colleen Gray at 970-949-5026 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit literacyprojecteaglecounty.org.