Until Someone Listens: An Interview with Child-Author Estela Juarez
If you’re going to interview a kid on your blog, make it a memorable kid.
Not every 11-year-old out there goes viral when they make a speech to the President, but that’s exactly what happened with Estela Juarez. You may remember the story. At the 2020 Democratic National Convention, Estela gave a speech, directed at Donald Trump, about her mom’s deportation:
Today is the release of her picture book about what led to that speech. Until Someone Listens (and its Spanish language edition) tells Estela’s story and really makes her life accessible to other kids. Her mom was just granted another year’s reprieve to stay in the US, thankfully, but the work is far from done.
We’re talking with Estela today about where this book came from and where she’s going from here.
Betsy Bird: Estela. I can’t thank you enough for answering my questions. I think that before we get into anything else I’d just like to ask how you’re doing?
Estela Juarez: Of course, thank you so much for giving me this opportunity. I am doing great, thank you for asking!
BB: How are things with your family right now?
EJ: We are all right for now because my mom is with us but we are also worried because we don’t know if next year my mom will be allowed to stay for another year. She has a one year parole to stay in the US.
BB: Well, let’s talk a little bit about the moment where you go from living your life to writing about it. And as a picture book too! Until now you’ve mostly just been telling your story as videos and in interviews.
EJ: First my parents started writing letters to legislators trying to get them to help us stop my mom’s deportation. Unfortunately, nothing helped. I was determined to continue to help my mom so that’s when I decided to write letters myself and later a book.
BB: Why was making a book important to you?
EJ: I wrote this book with the hope that by telling my family’s story, I could get the attention of more legislators so that the immigration laws can change and that my mom and other parents can finally find a solution to their immigration problems and live with their children.
BB: And how did you get the idea?
EJ: Before my mom was deported, my parents wrote letters to legislators. That’s when I realized I could do it too. I was also inspired to write to the previous and current president. Videos of me reading those letters went viral. I saw the power of speaking out against what was happening to my mother and family separation. I wanted to continue to share our story by writing a book so that others can read it and get inspired to speak out too.
BB: Is writing something you might want to pursue in the future? What are you looking forward to doing someday? What’s your dream?
Photo credit: Artisan Photographics
EJ: Absolutely, I would love to write more books in the future as I get older, writing more about my life. I also hope to dedicate all my time to becoming an immigration lawyer and later on a Congresswoman to help reunite families like mine!
BB: If you could have kids learn just one thing from your book, what would it be?
EJ: I want kids to know that they have a voice and they should share it with the world!
BB: And finally, what’s next for you?
EJ: I’m actually writing my second book; in this book, I will go more into details about my experience being the daughter of an undocumented immigrant.
I’d like to thank Estela for taking the time to talk to me today and to Morgan Rath and the folks at Macmillan for putting this together. Until Someone Listens hits shelves today and if you’re interested in getting your classroom involved, then check out this postcard writing campaign:
Filed under: Interviews
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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