Meg Medina

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Meg Medina
Meg Medina 2016.jpg
Medina at the 2016 Texas Book Festival
Margaret Rose Medina

(1963-06-11) June 11, 1963 (age 59)
Known forNewbery Medalist 2019
Spouse(s)Javier Menéndez[1]

Meg Medina is an American children’s book author of Cuban descent whose books celebrate Latino culture and the lives of young people. She is the recipient of the 2019[2] John Newbery Medal for her middle grade novel, Merci Suárez Changes Gears.

Early life and education[edit]

Medina is the youngest of two daughters of Lidia Regla Metauten and Juan Norberto Medina, who emigrated from Cuba in the early 1960s. The couple separated shortly before Medina’s birth, and her mother relocated with her children to Queens, New York, where they were joined over the years with remaining family members from Cuba. Medina often points to her early life experiences as the underpinnings of her works, which examine themes of immigration, family estrangements, separation from loved ones, and financial hardships.

Medina attended P.S. 22 in Flushing, Queens, followed by Junior High School 189. During her high school years, Medina reconnected briefly with her father and attended Seekonk High School in Massachusetts, where her father had settled with his new wife and family.

Medina began her studies at Hunter College of the City University of New York, although she ultimately transferred to Queens College to complete her degree. She married a childhood friend, Javier Menendez, in 1983 and graduated the following year, majoring in Communication Arts and minoring in English Writing.


Medina first worked briefly as an editorial assistant at Simon & Schuster in the Monarch Press division before a ten-year teaching career in the New York City Public Schools and later, after relocating with her family to Florida in 1988, in the School District of Palm Beach County. Medina began writing as a freelance journalist for iCE Magazine, the Sun Sentinel, and South Florida Parenting magazine. The family again relocated in 1998 with their three children to Richmond, Virginia, where Medina turned her attention to writing fiction for young readers.

Medina's debut middle grade novel, Milagros: Girl from Away, was published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers in 2008. Medina then began a relationship with Candlewick Press. Tia Isa Wants a Car, a picture book based closely on her aunt’s purchase of a family car, received the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award in 2011.[3] Her young adult novel, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, following the harrowing experience of Piddy Sanchez in the crosshairs of a school bully, was awarded the Pura Belpré Award for writing in 2014[4] and the International Latino Book Awards for Best YA Fiction in English in 2014.[5] Her picture book Mango, Abuela, and Me, about a Spanish-speaking grandmother and her English-speaking granddaughter, received the Pura Belpré Award honor in writing and illustration[6] in 2016. Her young adult historical fiction novel Burn Baby Burn, about 17-year-old Nora Lopez surviving the summer of 1977 as a serial killer is stalking young women in her neighborhood, was long-listed[7] for the National Book Award and received the Westchester Fiction Award in 2017.[8] Medina received the Charlotte Huck honor[9] and the John D Newbery Medal in 2019[2] for her middle grade novel, Merci Suárez Changes Gears, which depicts the life of 12-year-old Merci Suárez in her daily struggles with her Cuban-American family as they face the challenge of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis for her beloved grandfather, Lolo.

Medina has advocated more diversity in children’s literature, supported emerging authors, and worked in literacy initiatives aimed at the Latino community.[citation needed] She was a founding member of We Need Diverse Books,[10] serves on their Advisory Committee, and is a faculty member of the Hamline Masters in Fine Arts for Children’s Writing.[11]

Awards and recognition[edit]




  • Been There, Done That, edited by Mike Winchell, (2016)
  • Flying Lessons & Other Stories, edited by Ellen Oh, (2017)
  • The Radical Element, edited by Jessica Spotswood, (2018)
  • The Talk: Conversations about Race, Love & Truth, edited by Cheryl and Wade Hudson, (2020)
  • Wild Tongues Can't Be Tamed, edited by Saraciea Fennell, (2021)

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Lockwood, Sarah. "Meg Medina, Storyteller". Richmond Family Magazine. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  2. ^ a b c "Newbery Medal and Honor Books, 1922-Present". Association for Library Service for Children. Retrieved 9 August 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ a b "2012 Ezra Jack Keats Award Winners". Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass". American Library Association.
  5. ^ a b c d "2014 International Latino Book Award Winners". Latino Book Awards. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  6. ^ a b "The Pura Belpré Award winners, 1996-present". Association of Library Service to Children. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Burn Baby Burn, Longlist, National Book Awards 2016 for Young People's Literature". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 26 July 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ a b "Westchester YA Book Buzz Book Club". Westchester Library Association. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  9. ^ a b "Charlotte Huck Award". NCTE. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  10. ^ "Meet the Team". We Need Diverse Books. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  11. ^ "Creative Writing Programs Faculty". Hamline University. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  12. ^ "Charlotte Zolotow Award Books". Cooperative Children's Book Center. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved Aug 9, 2020.
  13. ^ "Meg Medina (biography)". Library of Congress. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  14. ^ "2014 In the Margins Top Ten". In the Margins Book Awards. 2018-09-02. Retrieved 2022-01-31.
  15. ^ "The CNN 10: Visionary Women". CNN. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  16. ^ Gonzalez, Jose. "2015 Top Ten New Latino Authors". Latino Stories.
  17. ^ "NAIBA Book of the Year Awards". New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association. Retrieved Aug 9, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ "Southerners of the Year 2017". Southern Living. Retrieved 2019-04-06.
  19. ^ "Henrico County Notice of Special Meeting Board of Supervisors". Henrico County Virginia. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  20. ^ "HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 934". Government of Virginia. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  21. ^ "SENATE RESOLUTION NO. 130". Virginia's Legislative Information System. Feb 18, 2019. Retrieved Aug 9, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  22. ^ Medina, Meg. "A Deaf Girl Finds Her Voice on Martha's Vineyard in the 19th Century". New York Times.
  23. ^ Medina, Meg. "Dark Magic and Other Escapes in These Summer Y.A. Novels". New York Times.
  24. ^ "The Writer's Page: On Writing the American Familia". The Horn Book. Retrieved 26 July 2020.