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UHV instructor's book chosen for award by Kansas schoolchildren

By Victoria Advocate
June 2, 2012 at 1:02 a.m.

Diana Lopez

While teaching writing to middle school students, University of Houston-Victoria English instructor Diana López noticed a shortage of books written for that age group.

She set out to change that with her 2009 book "Confetti Girl."

Three years later, middle school students in Kansas are thanking her with an award named after a famous author and journalist.

"Confetti Girl" recently was chosen as a recipient of the 2012 William Allen White Children's Book Awards.

López said she was excited to receive the honor because it came directly from the book's audience.

"Confetti Girl" was one of 17 books that sixth- through eighth-graders could select.

"When writing for young people, I always wonder what their reaction to reading it will be," she said. "I'm really excited to hear that they enjoyed the book."

López said the book resonates with middle school students because the main character is dealing with several of the challenges they are experiencing, such as friendship and school issues.

"The book also contains a lot of humor young people can relate to," López said. "Additionally, there is some novelty in the book. Many readers probably haven't heard of cascarones - hollowed eggshells filled with colorful confetti."

The book is the story of a young Latina girl navigating growing pains in Corpus Christi, López's hometown.

A project to teach San Antonio middle school students creative writing ignited an interest in writing for that age group, López said. The book was written with her former students in mind.

"I think middle school is the most interesting time period in life," she said. "You are leaving behind childhood but not yet ready for adulthood. That leads to a lot of concerns and emotions that middle school students struggle to express. It can be difficult for them to articulate what's going on."

"At this point, I'm considering returning to writing an adult fiction novel, but the middle school age group is still ripe with stories," she said. "My nieces and nephews are entering that age, so I may get introduced to more stories through them."

López began teaching at UHV in 2010. She has taught creative writing and composition classes and will be the instructor for an online fiction writing class this fall.

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