Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Claudia Guadalupe Martinez  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction

Audience: Young Adult; Children;

Born: 1978

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Illinois Connection

Martinez has lived in Chicago since 2002.

Biographical and Professional Information

Claudia Guadalupe Martinez grew up in El Paso, Texas where she learned that letters form words from reading the subtitles of old westerns for her father. She now lives in Chicago where she works for a non-profit whose mission it is to improve the educational experiences of public school children.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Pig Park
ISBN: 1935955772

Cinco Puntos Press. 2014

It's crazy! Fifteen-year-old Masi Burciaga hauls bricks to help build a giant pyramid in her neighborhood park. Her neighborhood is becoming more of a ghost town each day since the lard company moved away. Even her school closed down. Her family's bakery and the other surviving businesses may soon follow. As a last resort, the neighborhood grown-ups enlist all the remaining able-bodied boys and girls into this scheme in hopes of luring visitors. Maybe their neighbors will come back too. But something's not right about the entrepreneur behind it all. And then there's the new boy who came to help. The one with the softest of lips. Pig Park is a contemporary Faustian tale that forces us to look at the desperate lengths people will go to in the name of community--and maybe love.
Claudia Guadalupe Martinez, author of the award-winning The Smell of Old Lady Perfume, has long been distressed about how the global economy is displacing workers and families. Claudia grew up in El Paso, Texas. She and her family now live in Chicago, Illinois.

The Smell of Old Lady Perfume
ISBN: 1933693185

Cinco Puntos Press. 2008

Claudia Guadalupe Martinez’s debut novel for young adults is a bittersweet story about death, family, and the resilient emotional strength of the human heart. Chela Gonzalez, the book’s narrator, is a nerd and a soccer player who can barely contain her excitement about starting the sixth grade. But nothing is as she imagined—her best friend turns on her to join the popular girls and they all act like Chela doesn’t exist. She buries herself in schoolwork and in the warm comfort of her family. To Chela, her family is like a solar system, with her father the sun and her mother, brothers, and sister like planets rotating all around him. It’s a small world, but it’s the only one she fits in.

But that universe is threatened when her strong father has a stroke. Chela’s grandmother moves in to help the family. The smell of her old lady perfume invades the house. That smell is worse than Sundays. Sundays were sad, but they went just as sure as they came. Death was a whole other thing, and Chela doesn’t understand that’s what everyone is waiting for. In her grief and worry, Chela begins to discover herself and find her own strength.

Claudia Guadalupe Martinez was born in El Paso, Texas. She learned that letters form words from reading the subtitles of old Westerns for her father. She went on to graduate from college and moved to Chicago to become one of the city’s youngest nonprofit executives.


The Smell of Old Lady Perfume

  • Summer Must Read List, Hispanic Magazine, 2008
  • Best Middle Grade Book of the Year, Latinidads, 2008
  • Best of the Best List, Chicago Public Library, 2008
  • Southwest Books of the Year List, Pima County Library, 2008
  • ALANs Picks List, 2008
  • Best Young Adult Book Award, Texas Institute of Letters, 2008
  • Winner, Paterson Prize for Books for Young People, 2009
  • Amricas Award Commended Title, 2009
  • YA Top Forty List, Pennsylvania School Librarians Association, 2009
  • Teaching Tolerance List, Southern Poverty Law Center, 2009
  • Recommended Reading List, Florida Department of Education, 2009-15
  • Battle of the Books Official Title, Chicago Public Schools, 2010
  • Pig Park

  • Battle of the Books Official Title List (Grade 7-8)

    , Chicago Public Schools, 2014

  • ALANs Picks List, 2014
  • Young Adult Book Award, Texas Institute of Letters Best, 2015
  • Best YA Fiction Award, NAACS Tejas Foco, 2015
  • Books for Kids Interested in Engineering List, Chicago Public Library, 2015
  • Recommended HS Reading List, Chicago Public Schools, 2015
  • Recommended Summer Reading List, Were the People
  • Starred Review, VOYA magazine
  • ILLINOIS READS Book Selection, Illinois Reading Council, 2017

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

    Please contact Martinez directly. She is represented by Adriana Dominguez of Full.