Martha Aviles’ amazing gift….

Martha Aviles and I met at the 1999 LA SCBWI conference and began working together in my ‘CAT’ Agency in 2000.  I was delighted by her artwork then, and after sixteen years am still delighted with it!  (see on website ) But this post is about much more than her artwork – it’s about giving back and sharing her love of books and art in a loving way to children who wouldn’t have books, attention or art in their lives perhaps without her!  

Tell us Martha about the Sunday Reading Program you have begun and been involved with for kids in the park there in Mexico City.  How did this begin and grow for you?

I started to read with kids in December 2014. I made a free reading program for children called “El Semillero”. Every Sunday, I make a route in a Plants’s Market in Mexico City, with a small pull wagon filled with books to read with the kids who work there. Between 20 and 30 children from 2 to 14 years old, wait glad their reading day. We read, but we also play, talk, sing, paint, and we have begun to planing outings to Museums, to concerts, to parks… because these activities enrich not only their reading experience, but aslo their inner world and their perception.

I started this program because I love the books and the children. Also, by a personal need to contribute especially to those children who live in violent or precarious environments and do not have easy access to books.


I understand you just returned from a communications training event. Can you tell us about that? how did you hear of it? why did you decide it’d be helpful to you as an artist and a reader?

I was in intensive “Non Violent Communication” training. This is a program created by Marshall Rosenberg and it was imparted in Mexico for second time. I knew of this program through my meditation teacher.

With NVC we learn to hear our own deeper needs and those of others, through its emphasis on deep listening. It can be seen as both a spiritual practice that help us see our common humanity, using our power in a way that honors everyone’s needs, and a concrete set of skills which help us to create life-serving families and communities.

I took this training because I need to develop skills that help me to promote a empathic communication and sensitive to the needs of each child, and to generate a collective atmosphere of cordiality, not just among children, also among their parents, since some of these children live in unfavorable conditions, exposed to situations of violence and segregation. Although our reading time has established a truce where everyone can participate, all are included, loved and valued, the challenge is still big, and new skills to address it are wellcome.


How has all of this helped or changed your professional and personal artwork?

I’m not sure if this experience has helped or changed my artwork, but I can see many ideas emerging from there… ideas to create stories, objects, toys and workspaces to enrich my reading program, as well as a desire to explore some topics and narratives. Some ideas are in my desk now, and I’m planning the construction of a children’s workshop in the future.


Thank you Martha for sharing your unique artistic journey and  adventure!  It’s amazing what you have started and what may grow from this loving effort!  These photos tell your story so well!  you are opening the eyes of so many children and I suspect adults as well.  Thank you for that especially….



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An honor arrived in the mail today….

Magazine Picture

WOW ….that’s ME!   This magazine arrived today! – Williamsburg’s NEXT DOOR NEIGHBORS, focusing on the Arts this issue, included a story about me (written by editor Greg Lilly) and my road to having an agency in the children’s book industry!  I knew it was coming but not when. I’d been interviewed (didn’t realize so MUCH of my past would end up in the article!) and then photographed by photographer Corey Miller (it was his idea to surround me with some of our books in my dinning room….I just love it! it feels like me!)  But seeing it actually in this well done magazine is humbling and thrilling!

The title might surprise some.  I’ve had a great, lucky and full life, but I also had one BIG life disappointment that this is referring to.  Being an oil painter caused me to develope severe chronic asthma and put an end to my life dream to be a gallery oil painter, just beginning to happen finally after three children. My youngest child was 3 or 4 when I was told I could no longer EVER paint with oil again. But dealing with that fact lead me eventually to this wonderful, friendly, creatively alive industry, and perhaps a more purposeful and happily contributing life!  Funny how life works.

I’ve actually found myself telling my story a few times when I talk to groups of artists looking to get into this industry.  It can be very challenging of course and artists get discouraged.  My story can be rather motivational I suddenly realized.  By persevering, being patient, putting one foot in front of the other, and being open to taking advantage of opportunities, I traveled a road that brought me finally, over 25 years ago, to Children’s Publishing and the wonderful art produced for it.  I now feel, oddly perhaps, that asthma was a ‘gift’.  It shut one door, but then another opened that I feel deep down gave me, and my family, so much more than my fine art career might have.  As many of you know…. almost 15 years ago I trained my new daughter in law, Nicole Tugeau,to be an agent as well (Tugeau 2!) I repped my talented son Jeremy Tugeau for many years, and he’s now repped by Nicole.  AND he is a gallery oil painter! and has a MFA and teaches art full-time now.  Three years ago my youngest, and daughter, Christy Tugeau Ewers joined me as partner in our CATugeau Agency which allows us to grow and go on into the future with her many talents put to great use!

So ‘adversity’- those doors that close to us during any life – can actually lead us to a more gratifying, long reaching, life altering path that is JUST RIGHT for us and others!  We have to be open to it.  We have to allow the change and the challenge to act out.  There is opportunity in adversity… in every life.  GRAB FOR IT!

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Today’s Publishing Picture…

Ruby reading

This is my 10 year old dear granddaughter Ruby Tugeau….daughter of Jeremy and Nicole Tugeau (of Tugeau 2…or ‘T2’ agency!)  doing what she’s LOVED to do before she could walk….read!  In this case she’s reading on my back porch in VA three of our CATugeau Agency spring books, Nicole Tadgell’s illustrated Mandela Book from Random House, Priscilla Burris’s Five Speckled Frogs from Scholastic, and How the Cookies Crumble from Simon Spotlight,illustrated by Kelly KennedyAs if she doesn’t have enough books at her home in OHIO!  love it….

And they say BOOKS ARE DEAD…. I DON’T THINK SO!  In fact the AAP Stat Shot Annual new report for 2015 shows that books are doing just fine, thank you!  The figures compared 2012 with the latest from 2015 and it’s sable across the board in most genres!  The net$ is up if the total units of books is ever so slightly down. Remember too that 2012 saw both the Shades of Grey and Hunger Games.  ebooks are slightly down, and there is a bit of decline in mass market.. but publishers are publishing far less mass apparently now then then. They are switching to ebooks more.  Hard covers in adult trade is stable if not a bit up, and there is growth in trade paperback.  Board books are in a healthy increase again!  A new generation of book lovers in the making!

I think the quote from Dave Thompson as seen in Penguin Random House Author News is just a perfect message for all you writers and illustrators: ” people still read and books still sell. Keep writing great books!”     AMEN and HAPPY AUG ALL!!…. use the ‘dog days of summer’ to stay in the air conditioning and brain storm, sketch, revise, create and let your ‘kid mind’ take ahold of ‘SUMMAH TIME…and the living’ is easy. ‘

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MAYA Prays for Rain launch!

Ochoa...Maya Prays for Rain cover

We are CELEBRATING the launch of MAYA PRAYS for RAIN illustrated by our Ana Ochoa, who lives in Mexico and has been with us for a nice long time, and busy, but this is her FIRST PICTURE BOOK!!! a big moment!  The Publisher is Kar-Ben, a Lerner imprint, and an old friend of CATugeau LLC so we’re especially pleased.  I hope many of you will check out this fun book… and Ana… we send a BIG HUG of congrats for a job well done!  now onto the next…..

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Celebrate Maggie and Milo!

Burris Magi and Milo Friends

Today is the happy launch day for the new Maggi and Milo book from our artist Priscilla Burris and the author Juli Brenning published by Dial Books!!!  They are Making New Friends and it’s such a fun romp!  Congratulations All!

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Everyday hero…

Sometimes just getting up and getting out to make something happen is a heroic act.  I have to brag a wee bit today…. as my dear husband Bill (70 this year!) checked off a BIG Bucket List item for himself this Dad’s Day past.  He road from our home in Wmsbrg to Richmond and Back again on the Capital to Capital bike trail...102 miles!  His first ‘century ride’ on a bike!

And now, not even one week later,  we’re prepping to leave for the Cape Cod Getaway again over this weekend next….his forth year riding the 150 miles from Boston to P’town for MS.  Our son-in-law Christy’s Chris (!) is riding with him for the 3rd time too.  It’s quite a feat all around to get the six of us (two small children this year too!) up and out and THERE!….and we like to then stay up on the cape the rest of the week so he/they/we can recoup and relax into summer a bit too.

So the ‘CATugeau Agency’ will be on the road and on the Cape the next week….conferencing, enjoying each other and celebrating not so small heroic acts!

Bill at trail head Dad's Day

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missing DAD!


A personal image this time for the blog….because Dad’s are on ALL our minds!

My dear dear Dad George Stevenson Hughes MD with one of my son’s Jeremy Tugeau (and today an illustrator, gallery painter, and art teacher!- as well as Dad now of 3!)  at our CT home years ago … before the lung cancer that took Dad in 2001 at 80.  Family resemblance for sure….they had a bond.  The bit of the ‘twinkle in the eye’ in youth perhaps?  still miss the heck out of him. Often start to pick up the phone to run a thought by him! …a psychiatrist, but mostly my DAD.  So bright and patient and loving and solid.  I am a lucky daughter to have the memories….may they pass on in our legacy.

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