I’m Erin Dealey, and I write books for kids. I’m a teacher, presenter, rhymer, blogger, and proud Drama Mama.

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Happy Book Birthday to FALLING SHORT (Quill Tree Books) + 6 Qs with award-winning mg author Ernesto Cisneros = slam dunk!

March 15, 2022

Congrats to my friend Ernesto Cisneros, on the launch of his new middle grade novel, FALLING SHORT (Quill Tree Books). We’re celebrating this wonderful book with six questions for Ernesto. But first…


Three STARRED reviews!

“Told through animated alternating first-person chapters, Cisneros’s story not only captures the anxiety—and at times, humor—of trying to measure up to expectations, it also tackles delicate subject matter, such as parental absence and alcohol reliance, with profound sensitivity and nuance. A narrative slam dunk for fans of Donna Barba Higuera and Meg Medina.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Cisneros’ touching sophomore novel is an ideal pick for sports fans and will reel in reluctant readers.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros (Quill tree Books)

You can read about Ernesto’s award-winning debut novel Efrén Divided, here.

Time for some FALLING SHORT questions!

Q 1.  Since one of the themes of FALLING SHORT is dealing with pressure—how did you manage the pressure of writing your second middle grade novel, after your debut novel, Efrén Divided, garnered so much praise, including winning the Pura Belpré Award?

Ernesto Cisneros: Not very well I’m afraid. I had huge anxiety that my sophomore book would, well… “fall short” of everyone’s expectations, including my own. I questioned whether I even had another book in me. In the end, I decided to address the I’m-not-good-enough syndrome many of us tend to feel growing up.

It was definitely the right call.

Take aways and Surprises

Q 2. What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

Ernesto Cisneros: Writing this book is my way of taking the struggles and negative experiences from my life and changing them into something more positive . . . something that might help readers avoid these same pitfalls. The way I see it, if my experiences help others, they are good regardless of how they felt at the time.

Ernesto Cisneros with the famous Dos Equis, as seen in the novel Falling Short. (No spoilers!)

Q 3. Were there any surprises you encountered while writing this book?

Ernesto Cisneros: Definitely! I did not anticipate how much humor would derive from my experiences as a teacher. Looking back now, I realize that after 26 years of teaching, I have heard and seen just about everything that can happen at a school.

*Speaking of which, check out this fun unboxing of FALLING SHORT that Ernesto made with his students!

In Celebration of March Madness…

Q 4. Which basketball term best describes FALLING SHORT’s path to publication—or your writing process:

A.   Fast Break

B.   Traveling

C.   Slam dunk

D.   Assist

E.    Full court press

Ernesto Cisneros: I’d add one more. It was definitely more like–

F.   Airball, airball, brick! Airball, airball, brick! Airball, airball, brick! Airball, airball, Swish.

Q 5. What words of advice would you tell pre-published Ernesto, and writers just starting out on their #kidlit journeys, who might have occasional doubts they’ll “fall short” of getting published?

Ernesto Cisneros: To quote Koro-sensei, from Assassination Classroom: “The difference between the novice and the master is that the master has failed more times than the novice has tried.”

Each time you fail, you simply get one step closer to succeeding. So never, ever give up. It took me 14 years to realize my dream. Honestly, the wait only made the accomplishment all the sweeter.

Note: giveaway contest has ended but you can order your copy HERE!

Q 6. OK, I know my answer to this last question is EVERYONE, but I’m going to ask you too, Ernesto: Who should read your book?

Ernesto Cisneros: Anyone who has ever felt like they fall short of what the world expects of them.  

ED note: I’m pretty sure that’s EVERYONE, right friends?

Thank you, Ernesto, for joining the blog today and


To learn more about Ernesto Cisneros and his books, visit ernestocisneros.com,

follow Ernesto on social media–

Twitter: @Author_Cisneros

Instagram: cisne.writes


Livestream Reading alert!

Save the Date: March 29th 7pm Pacific –and Register here for a virtual ZOOM visit with Ernesto Cisneros and author Sonja Thomas, hosted by Annie Bloom’s Books.

Next up on the blog: a DOUBLE Book Birthday celebration for Danna Smith!

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