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Classical 91.7-Arte Público Author of the Month: Gwendolyn Zepeda

Gwendolyn Zepeda has been selected as this month's Classical 91.7/Arte Público Press Author of the Month. In the next installment of a series of monthly features, Classical 91.7's Eric Ladau spoke with Ms. Zepeda.


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Popular author Gwendolyn Zepeda knows how to dream big and set goals. Her kids’ book characters have shown entrepreneurial spirit, determination to spread goodwill, resolve to hone athletic skills, and now with her fourth bilingual picture book Level Up / Paso de nivel, young David learns how to really level up in life.

David is obsessed with reaching the next level in his favorite video game. Whether he’s playing BunnyBot Fighters or Ultimate Rhino Races, he’s so single-minded in his pursuit of getting to the next level that he turns down invitations from friends to play outside. But one day, his game quits working, and he’s on “Level Sad.” So, with nothing else to do, he reluctantly goes outside. “Today I’m trying to skateboard. I have to learn to stand on the skateboard while it rolls, without falling off. It feels like I’m on Level One of a really hard game.” But if he can master staying on the board, his friend Michael will show him how to do turns, and “that’ll be like Level Two.” Soon, David is doing turns and is ready to learn how to do jumps!

Still unable to play video games, David lets his friend Bianca convince him to give basketball a try. Dribbling is hard, but David wants to level up so he’ll get a new red jersey. Pretty soon, he’s on Level 12 of skateboarding and Level 8 of basketball, and he’s ready to try diving and dirt biking. Eventually his video game is fixed, but by then he has discovered that leveling up in real life is more exciting than leveling up on a screen!

Level Up/Paso de Nivel by Gwendolyn Zepeda

Gwendolyn Zepeda is the author of I Kick the Ball / Pateo el balón (Piñata Books, 2011); Growing Up with Tamales / Los tamales de Ana (Piñata Books, 2008), a 2009 Charlotte Zolotow Award Highly Commended Title; and Sunflowers / Girasoles (Piñata Books, 2009), winner of the Texas Institute of Letters’ Austin Public Library Friends Foundation Award for Best Children’s Book. She lives and works in Houston, Texas.

Pablo Torrecilla, a native of Madrid, Spain, has illustrated numerous children’s books, including I Kick the Ball / Pateo el balón (Piñata Books, 2011), Estrellita en la ciudad grande / Estrellita in the Big City (Piñata Books, 2008), Estrellita se despide de su isla / Estrellita Says Good-bye to Her Island (Piñata Books, 2002) and The Bakery Lady / La señora de la panadería (Piñata Books, 2001). He lives in Italy.

Arte Público Press is the nation’s largest and most established publisher of contemporary and recovered literature by U.S. Hispanic authors.  Its imprint for children and young adults, Piñata Books, is dedicated to the realistic and authentic portrayal of the themes, languages, characters and customs of Hispanic culture in the United States. Based at the University of Houston, Arte Público Press, Piñata Books and the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage project provide the most widely recognized and extensive showcase for Hispanic literary arts and creativity.  For more information, please visit