We had the opportunity to interview Fran Pintadera, a storyteller, theater director, and the author of over one dozen children’s books. His book Why Do We Cry? (Kids Can) received a Parents’ Choice Gold Award and was selected as a Bank Street College Best Book of the Year. He also wrote Madani’s Best Game (Eerdmans), a children’s book based on Fran’s time as a social educator in new immigrant housing, where he often played pick-up soccer with a boy named Madani.
What made you decide to become an author?
Sometimes you don’t decide “I want to be this or that.” I simply removed the weeds, the things I didn’t want, the things that were foreign to me. By removing the lie, only the truth remains. I feel that my truth is that I was always a writer waiting for his moment.
What makes you most passionate about being a writer?
It fascinates me that there is nothing written about my future. When you write, in a way, you are also writing your next step. Where do you want to go as a person and as a writer? I think that life always surprises us, and I am passionate about not knowing what my next book will be about.
What’s a typical workday like?
I don’t have any “normal” days at work. In Spanish the word “normal” has its origin in “norm,” something like a law that must be followed. Writing is an art, and I consider art to be alive. I let it surprise me. I come up with stories in the most outlandish situations possible, and, sometimes, in front of the computer and with time to write, nothing comes to me. Of course, when a story asks to be told, I move everything around me to sit down and write.
How much research do you do before you begin a book?
It depends on the book. But even if it’s a simple topic—let’s say a story about frogs—I like to read about batrachians, customs, habitats… I like to have a lot of information about the topic I’m dealing with, even if it isn’t reflected in the book afterwards. Although the most important thing I consider is the impulse. Data doesn’t make good stories.
Where do you find your inspiration for new stories and characters?
Life is full of stimulation. I stopped looking a long time ago. However, inspiration keeps showing up. Yes, life is infinite and it is enough to learn to look at it.
What has been the most memorable reaction you’ve received from a reader so far?
A woman wrote to me after reading my book Why Do We Cry?. She told me that she had experienced a profound loss and had been unable to cry ever since. His emotion was covered up. She told me that after reading this book she uncovered something and cried again, and that she felt very liberated. It was very shocking to me.
What do you hope kids learn from Madani’s Best Game?
I hope, above all, that they enjoy the story. It was exciting for me to write it, hopefully they find it exciting too. How nice it would be if Madani opened their eyes and made them look around with a changed outlook. This story would be great to add to learning to look beyond what is visible.
When you are not writing, how do you like to relax?
Making music, reading, walking with my dog and my family. And practicing some sport (but not soccer, I leave that to Madani).
Can you tell us one thing people may not know about you?
I love being a writer. I think I am very lucky. I like to remind myself. And I like my readers to know that. I am lucky to have them on the other side. This is teamwork.
Madani’s Best Game
Written by Fran Pintadera
Illustrated by Raquel Catalina
Translated by Lawrence Schimel
Ages 5 to 9
A heartfelt book featuring a neighborhood soccer team and its determined young star, who has a secret plan even more impressive than his bicycle kicks.
No one plays soccer like Madani. When the ball lands on his bare feet, the whole town stops to watch. Even Madani’s mother—still sewing the day’s work at home—can hear the crowds cheer when he scores. His teammates wonder what their best player could do, if he only had a proper pair of cleats. As Madani saves up money, bit by bit, his team’s rivalry match approaches. Maybe he’ll have new cleats in time for the big day! Or maybe Madani has a different goal in mind…
Told with gentle humor and lively illustrations, Madani’s Best Game is a refreshing story about the joys of sports, teamwork, and family.
Junior Library Guild Selection books | Kids books | Kidslit | Children’s books | New books for children