Author and Illustrator Pedro Martín Welcomes Your Questions at the Central Library on July 12

Monday, July 8, 2024
Cover of Pedro Martín's Mexikid

The origins of Pedro Martín’s debut book, Mexikid: A Graphic Memoir, can be traced back to Hallmark Cards, where he worked for nearly three decades. 

He describes the experience as “being surrounded by the most talented artists and writers in the world. You know, just swimming in this kind of creative ocean, picking up things from different people, and trying different things.” 

When Martín had free time at Hallmark, he’d record childhood stories on 3x5 notecards, which he stored in a metal Batman lunch box. After he retired, he rediscovered these cards when he was unpacking.  

“When I started going through the stuff in the box, I was like, ‘Well, there's something here,’” he says. “And my wife really encouraged me to be like, ‘Well, just put them out there and start, you know, spreading stories around and see what happens.’” 

Martín started posting a weekly 20-panel story on Instagram called mexikidstories – and after two years, he sought out an agent.  

“And the agent liked what he read,” he says. “But he didn't want to do a compilation, he wanted to do a whole new story. So, I said, ‘Well, I do have a bigger story that wasn't really suited for the series, because there's a lot more complexity to it.’ And I told him a little bit about it. And he said, ‘Yeah, do let's do that story.’”

That became Mexikid, Martín’s graphic memoir released in August 2023, about a road trip in the 1970s with his large family to Mexico to pick up his grandfather (who may or may not have been involved in the Mexican Revolution).

Martín jokes that the stories are "100% true 90% of the time. My memory and my heart like to play tricks on each other." He says he was guided by conversations with his editor and his agent. 

“They basically said, ‘Lean into what you remember, because this is what a memoir is. It's really your memory of going from one thing to another thing,’” he says. 

Pedro Martín's Mexikid

Since the book was published last year, he’s been on a whirlwind travel schedule. And the accolades keep rolling in, including the Newbery Honor Award, and Pura Belpré Author Award and Illustrator Award. Mexikid was also named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review, NPR, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, and Publishers Weekly, to name a few. 

Missouri Humanities and the Missouri Center for the Book selected the work to represent the state in August at the 2024 National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. “The more recent attention with all the honors, and the awards and stuff, has just been crazy,” Martín says. “It was a lot to load up, fill your heart with, because it was so much, and it was coming so fast.” 

Martín will visit the Central Library on Friday, July 12, at 1 p.m. for a behind-the-scenes look at his creative process, encouraging students to be the authors of their own stories. 

“I welcome questions at any time. I can stop what I'm doing and answer questions about the most mundane things,” he says. “If it’s mostly kids, that's even more fun because they have the best questions.”