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Introducing “The Technicolor Adventures of Catalina Neon”!

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Cover by artist Juana Medina

Cover by Juana Medina

Our energy is truly buzzing today as we debut “The Technicolor Adventures of Catalina Neon,” U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera’s second-term online project. “Catalina Neon” is a bilingual, illustrated, narrative poem that follows young Catalina as she navigates her “neonized” world. The most exciting and important part of this project is its collaborative nature: Herrera and illustrator Juana Medina invite second and third graders and their school librarians to imagine how Catalina’s story continues, collaboratively respond to a prompt at the end of each chapter, and submit their responses to propel the next chapter—and the adventure—forward. The poem will contain six chapters, each guided by students’ and librarians’ collective imaginations, ending with the final chapter in June 2017.

It’s been a struggle the past couple of months keeping this project relatively under wraps as Herrera and Medina dreamed up Catalina—and her dog, Tortilla! We all feel charged in the electricity of imagination that brought Catalina to life, and now we can’t wait for you to share in this electricity with us.

Meet Catalina Neon! (illustration by Juana Medina)

Meet Catalina Neon! (illustration by Juana Medina)

About the project, Juan Felipe Herrera says:

It was a magical experiment and experience conjuring this project with the one and only Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress.

Here comes Catalina Neon! She is going to light up your heart, city, town and classroom—even your very own room! If you want to know what poetry is all about, I mean, Catalina—just wait until you meet her. Oh, I almost forgot her spunky doggy, Tortilla. Second and third graders, watch out: she is headed to your very own school library!

I want to offer the wand of poetry
To every child and school in the
Nation. Catalina Neon is that inspiration
Wand – once a child picks it up and
Waves it across a sheet of paper or
A computer screen.

So today, we are thrilled to present to you the first chapter of “The Technicolor Adventures of Catalina Neon,” and to engage creatively with second and third graders across the country. School librarians, take note: Get your students “neonized,” too, and help decide where Catalina’s adventures go next! And parents, please let your children’s grade school librarians and teachers know about this exciting project.

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