Meet Celia C. Pérez!
Celia C. Pérez has been making zines inspired by punk and her love of writing for longer than some of you have been alive. Her favorite zine supplies are a long-arm stapler, glue sticks, and watercolor pencils. She still listens to punk music, and she’ll never stop picking cilantro out of her food at restaurants. Originally from Miami, Florida, Celia lives in Chicago with her family and works as a community college librarian. She owns two sets of worry dolls because you can never have too many. The First Rule of Punk is her first book for young readers.
From debut author and longtime zine-maker Celia C. Pérez, The First Rule of Punk is a wry and heartfelt exploration of friendship, finding your place, and learning to rock out like no one’s watching.
There are no shortcuts to surviving your first day at a new school—you can’t fix it with duct tape like you would your Chuck Taylors. On Day One, twelve-year-old Malú (María Luisa, if you want to annoy her) inadvertently upsets Posada Middle School’s queen bee, violates the school’s dress code with her punk rock look, and disappoints her college-professor mom in the process. Her dad, who now lives a thousand miles away, says things will get better as long as she remembers the first rule of punk: be yourself.
The real Malú loves rock music, skateboarding, zines, and Soyrizo (hold the cilantro, please). And when she assembles a group of like-minded misfits at school and starts a band, Malú finally begins to feel at home. She'll do anything to preserve this, which includes standing up to an anti-punk school administration to fight for her right to express herself!
Black and white illustrations and collage art throughout make The First Rule of Punk a perfect pick for fans of books like Roller Girl and online magazines like Rookie.
Dad says punk rock only comes in one volume: loud. So when I slipped my headphones over my ears, I turned the music up until bass strings thumped, cymbals hissed, and guitar strings squealed like they were having a conversation with each other. Mom says my music is a racket, but to me it’s like the theme music to my life. And it’s always helped me concentrate.
I ripped a page out of a magazine, then squeezed my fingers inside the blue plastic holes of an old pair of school scissors. It was a little too close for comfort, but my real scissors, the ones made of steel with a black handle, were packed away, and I had to get this done. It was now or never.
I maneuvered the blades carefully around the page. I liked the feeling of the scissors slicing through the glossy paper. Especially when I got to the very last snip and freed the exact piece I wanted. The word I cut out stuck to my sweaty fingertips, and I carefully placed it on the floor, where my zine supplies were spread out around me.
There were sheets of unlined paper and old magazines Dad had given me, an uncapped purple glue stick, and a folder so fat with clip art that papers spilled out of the opening. The yellow Whitman’s Sampler box that held my colored pencils, stickers, and scraps of paper still smelled of chocolate but no longer contained a delicious assortment of candy.
While hunched over the magazine, looking for more letters to cut out, a pair of leather-sandaled feet suddenly appeared. I looked up at Mom, who stood over me in her HECHO EN MEXICO T-shirt and a knee-length gauzy skirt. Her lips moved, but her words were no match for my music. Finally she pointed to her ears.
“SuperMexican strikes again,” I said, pulling the headphones down around my neck.
SuperMexican is my nickname for Mom. She’s always trying to school me on stuff about Mexico and Mexican American people. I think her main goal in life is to make me into her ideal Mexican American señorita. Plus, she likes to wear these embroidered dresses and skirts, and wraps called rebozos. I call this her SuperMexican uniform. Mom acts like it annoys her, but I think she secretly likes the nickname.
“Funny,” Mom said. “You all done packing?”
“I guess.” I glanced over at the pile of boxes and bags next to the door.
Mom told me to bring everything I needed but not to overpack, which didn’t make any sense. My room wasn’t my room without my things. There were only a few belongings I decided to leave behind, and they became the only signs that I’d ever lived here. I felt like someone had taken a giant Pink Pearl eraser and rubbed me out of the picture.
“Great,” Mom said. “Your dad will be here in an hour, so get ready.”
“I am ready.” I looked down at my T-shirt and shorts.
Mom’s eyes moved over my clothes with their super-scanning powers, looking for holes, stains, and other un-señorita-like offenses to point out. But before she could comment on anything, she noticed the magazine I was cutting.
“Malú, that’s not my new magazine that just came in the mail, is it?”
I gave Mom an unapologetic smirk to let her know that it was.
“I’ll take that, thank you very much,” she said, holding out her hand. “If you need magazines, check the recycling bin.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I said, and saluted before I handed her the copy of Bon Appétit. I put my headphones back on and grabbed a blank sheet of paper. I had to get this zine done before Dad came to pick me up.
I started making zines earlier this year when I discovered Dad’s collection of
punk music zines from his high school days. Zines are self-published booklets, like homemade magazines, and they can be about anything—not just punk. There are zines about all kinds of topics, like video games and candy and skateboarding. A zine can be a tribute to someone or something you love and nerd out about or a place to share ideas and opinions. Dad said they’re also a good way to write about what you’re thinking or feeling, kind of like a diary that you share with people. Mine are mostly about stuff I find interesting or want to know more about. But ever since Mom told me we were moving, a lot of my zines had become about that.
Mom made it seem like this move was no big deal because we’d be back when her new job contract expired. But two years might as well be forever. Two years meant all of middle school. And I couldn’t even imagine what two years away from Dad would feel like. It was a very big deal. So for the next hour I wrote and cut and pasted a final plea to Mom. I glued the last letter onto a page just as the doorbell rang to signal that my time was up.Blog Tour ScheduleWeek One:August 21 – Books 4 Your Kids – ReviewAugust 22 – Here’s to Happy Endings – The First Rule of Punk Style BoardAugust 23 – Boricuan Bookworms – Review & Mini ZineAugust 24 – Teachers Who Read – ReviewAugust 25 – Margie’s Must Reads – Author Q&AWeek Two:August 28 – The Reading Nook Reviews – ReviewAugust 29 – The Novel Hermit – ReviewAugust 30 – Teen Librarian Toolbox – ReviewAugust 31 – YA Book Central – ExcerptThe YA Book Traveler – Review –