Author Victoria Sanchez Shares Pilar’s Worries

On Wednesday, April 28, the Kindergarten through 5th grade classes enjoyed a warm and engaging Zoom visit with Victoria Sanchez, author of the picture book, Pilar’s Worries.

To begin the meeting, Synergy Librarian Susanne introduced Sanchez who then gave us a glimpse into her life. She explained she lives in San Francisco in the neighborhood that has a cross on the hill, and she said she lives with her family. Her family includes her husband, Gary, two children, and three fire bellied toads.

Before starting to read Pilar’s Worries aloud, she asked the students two questions: (1) Does anyone like to read? and (2) Does anyone like to write? Lots of kids raised their hands in response to both questions, and she shared that she has always written stories and she has always loved to read.

The students were engrossed in Sanchez’s reading of Pilar’s Worries. The book is about Pilar, a girl who loves ballet but is worried about auditioning for the upcoming show, “Winter Wonderland.” In addition to the worry about the show, PIlar also generally experiences worry and anxiety in her mind and body throughout her days, especially when she’s the focus of attention at school. Her friend, Sebastian, helps her by reminding her to breathe, and her mother reassures whenever she can. Ultimately, Pilar auditions for the show, despite her big feelings. She gets a part, and she finds she is able to overcome her anxiety to do her favorite thing: dance.

At the end of the story, Sanchez shared with the students that the character, Sebastian, is based on Synergy 8th Grader, Strider. Pilar is based on Sanchez’s daughter, Paloma. Paloma and Strider were good friends in elementary school, and Strider was always very kind and encouraging when Paloma was feeling anxious and overwhelmed.

The students had lots of questions for Sanchez during the Q&A, including:

How did you think of the name, Pilar?
Sanchez said she always loved the names Pilar and Paloma, and since her daughter is named Paloma, this character got to be Pilar.

What’s the process of publishing a book?
Sanchez explained that you write a story, send it in to a lot of different people, say you want to publish it, and eventually, hopefully, someone says yes. Then you work with an editor to help you get your story perfect, and when it’s ready, the publisher takes the story, makes pictures, puts in book form and sends it to bookstores.

What else do you like to do?
Sanchez likes to draw, dance, hike, do all kinds of crafts, and camp.

What inspires you?
This book, Sanchez explained, is based loosely on her daughter who has selective mutism, which makes it hard for her to speak up in class. As far as becoming an author, Sanchez always loved writing stories but it took her awhile to be brave enough to work to have any published.

Which character do you feel most connected to?
Pilar. When Sanchez used to perform, she’d get nervous, but she got more talkative rather than quiet, so they’re different in that way.

What’s your favorite food?
Homemade tamales.

Have you written any mythical books?
Sanchez said she has been working on a book of poems about mythical creatures, but so far there are no plans for publication.

How did you get the idea to start the book?
Sanchez got the idea for this book because she was so proud of her daughter who doesn’t like to talk, but nevertheless expressed that she wanted to audition for The Velveteen Rabbit. Sanchez was super proud of her and impressed that she decided to do it even though she was scared.

Does it take a long time to write your stories?
Yes. Sanchez went on to explain that some stories are quick to do, but they take a long time because you have to research them. One of her books took a year to research.

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