Author Chat with Natalia Sylvester (A MALETA FULL OF TREASURES), Plus Giveaway! ~ US ONLY!

Today we are very excited to share an interview with author Natalia Sylvester!

Read on to learn more about the author, the book, and a giveaway!




Meet the Author: Natalia Sylvester

Natalia Sylvester is an award-winning author of the young adult novels Breathe and Count Back from Ten and Running and the adult novels Everyone Knows You Go Home and Chasing the Sun. Born in Lima, Peru, she grew up in Miami, Central Florida, and South Texas, and received her BFA from the University of Miami. A Maleta Full of Treasures is her first picture book.

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Meet the Illustrator: Juana Medina

Juana Medina is the creator of the Pura Belpré award-winning chapter book Juana & Lucas and many other titles and has illustrated numerous picture books, including ‘Twas the Night Before Pride and Smick! Born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, Juana Medina now lives with her family in the Washington D.C. area.






From an award-winning author and illustrator, a warm, gentle ode to cherished visits from grandparents and the people and places that make us who we are even if we haven’t met them yet.


It’s been three years since Abuela’s last visit, and Dulce revels in every tiny detail—from Abuela’s maletas full of candies in crinkly wrappers and gifts from primos to the sweet, earthy smell of Peru that floats out of Abuela’s room and down the hall. But Abuela’s visit can’t last forever, and all too soon she’s packing her suitcases again. Then Dulce has an idea: maybe there are things she can gather for her cousins and send with Abuela to remind them of the U.S. relatives they’ve never met. And despite having to say goodbye, Abuela has one more surprise for Dulce—something to help her remember that home isn’t just a place, but the deep-rooted love they share no matter the distance.

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~Author Chat~


YABC:  What came first, the concept, landscape, characters, or something else?

Funny enough, the word maleta came first. When my debut YA novel Running was in production, an editor asked me why one of my characters used the words “a maleta-full” instead of “a suitcase-full” when describing things that she’d just brought from Peru. It was a very small, anecdotal scene, but it got me thinking of how special the word maleta is to me, and what it meant to me as a child.


YABC:  What gave you the inspiration to write this book?  

I came to the US when I was four and for most of my childhood, I couldn’t visit Peru, so anytime relatives came to visit, they’d bring maletas full of gifts, candies, pictures, and letters from far away loved ones. I’d treasure these things because they made Peru (and all my relatives there) feel closer and more connected to me. I wanted to capture those feelings in A Maleta Full of Treasures—both the joys and bittersweetness of it. 


YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why? 

When Dulce first greets Abuela upon her arrival at the airport—that scene connects to such specific memories from my childhood, and the way Juana Medina’s illustrations brought it so vividly to life makes me really proud of the tenderness that comes through. Even though the book title says “maleta,” and even though Dulce is fascinated by Abuela’s maletas in this scene, describing them as “high as mountains” and looking like “they flew through a paper rainbow to get here,” I love that Juana honed in on what the moment is really about, which is that first, long-awaited embrace, and knowing that a loved one moved mountains and traveled across the earth and sky to be with you. 


YABC:   How do you keep your ‘voice’ true to the age category you are writing within? 

I’ve written books for adults, teens, and now children, and I think keeping our voices true is really a matter of two things: listening to and appreciating the unique ways people of different ages speak and view the world, but also remembering what it was like to be that age and see the world the way we did then. 

Have you ever been in a situation where the environment or the people around you made you revert to a younger version of yourself? I think it’s because deep down, we never stop being all the ages we’ve ever been. So I approach writing for different ages as a form of reconnecting with all my former selves, and figuring out what I can learn from her, what I wish I could say to her, and what she’s still trying to say to me now. Also, how might that resonate with young people today? We tend to think age separates us, but the more I write for young people the more I realize so much of what we go through in life is timeless. 


YABC: If you were able to meet them, would you be friends with your main character?

Absolutely! I love how thoughtful and sentimental Dulce is. I’d probably end up creating a memory box with her. 


YABC:  What fandom would you write for if you had time?

The first books I ever loved were Archie comics. As a child who’d just learned to speak English and initially struggled to learn to read, Archie comics helped me love to read. The Betty & Veronica books were my favorite, and I’ve always dreamed of writing one. I would absolutely make all the time to write for them! 


YABC:  What’s your least favorite word or expression and why?

When we tell kids who are having a hard time that one day they’ll look back and “none of this will matter.” We tend to compare our problems to theirs and think ours are bigger and more significant. But they’re experiencing all these huge things, often for the first time, so of course it matters. It matters now, and it’ll matter later, because it’s shaping them in the present. 


YABC:   What can readers expect to find in your books?

Vivid family dynamics and a sense of nostalgia. I’m very obsessed with memory, and no matter how much I think I’m writing about something else, it inevitably comes through in my books. We’re all made up of living stories, and I think that’s beautiful.





Author: Natalia Sylvester

Illustrator: Juana Medina

Release Date: April 16, 2024

Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers

ISBN-10: 0593462424

ISBN-13: 9780593462423

Genre: Hardcover Picture Book

Age Range: 4-8




*Giveaway Details*

Three (3) winners will receive a hardcover copy of A Maleta Full Of Treasures (Natalia Sylvester) ~ US Only!


*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway!*


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5 thoughts on “Author Chat with Natalia Sylvester (A MALETA FULL OF TREASURES), Plus Giveaway! ~ US ONLY!”

  1. astromgren says:

    An adorable looking book!

  2. ltecler says:

    This sounds like a lovely story! I know I have some readers at my school who can relate to it.

  3. Such a great book!

  4. The cover is heartwarming and so is the message of this book.

  5. This looks wonderful!

Comments are closed.