Islandborn Is More Than Just A Children’s Book–It’s ‘the Book of Our Childhoods’

Original post by Christina Miranda found here:

Last month, Junot Díaz resurfaced with his new book Islandborn; this time, however, his targeted audience is below the age of ten. Islandborn serves as more than just a story about finding one’s origin, it brings recognition to a real history while directing it towards children—something long overdue.

Islandborn tells the story of Lola, who is assigned to draw a picture of where her family is from, but comes to a standstill when she realizes that she has no memory of her home in the Dominican Republic. As she talks to her elders, she begins to imagine what the island might be like based on their descriptions alone. Immersed in a vibrant family and culture, she is also taught the harsh realities that have affected the island, including national disasters and the thirty year dictatorship of former Dominican Republic president Rafael Trujillo, presented in the book as the Monster.

On Díaz’s book tour, he took the time to sit down with Latinx Spaces to discuss his new book and the progress and acceptance he hopes it will bring to readers both young and adult. Here is an excerpt of our conversation:

How difficult is writing a children’s book compared to writing a novel or story collection?

It took just as long to get the idea. The execution was shorter. It still took an incredibly long time: again, I feel perhaps someone else would be able to knock these things out a lot faster, that’s my fantasy. It hasn’t been true for me, I’m very very slow, but it’s true that once I finally got the idea I was able to execute it. The problem was that I spent hundreds of pages getting the idea. If anyone out there is an artist and requires consolation, just reflect somewhat on my embarrassing career and I think that that will at least give you some encouragement.

In a New York Times article you mention that this book, which you wrote for your goddaughters, took you almost 20 years to write. How do your goddaughters like the book as adults?
It’s hard to say because I always feel it’s impolite to speak for other people in that way. They’ve told me that it meant the world to them, but it’s for them to say. In a way, I think that it’s hard to communicate what books do for us. Especially if they work well. A part of me is hoping that there is nothing that they can say immediately because it speaks to a book that’s doing its work when it takes you a long time to get your arms around it.

You don’t shy away from serious issues like racial identity and political corruption in history, unlike most children’s books. Why did you decide to mix it in this type of storyline?

Because that is the book of our childhoods as people of color. As immigrants. As people who were captured and forced to be slaves. This is a book that has many traumas in them. If we are only going to write children’s books, comprised of fictions of innocence, we will, by that very act, erase ourselves. And therefore I did not want my community or myself to be erased.

“What we’ve always wanted from everyone, whether it is inside or outside of our community, is to understand at the most profound level how human we are, and how deserving we are of sympathy and love, which is something that society spend an enormous amount of energy denying.”

I come from difficult struggles, I come from savage histories, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t feel less of a human, I’m not less joyous, and less alive to the possibilities of the world. I feel that this is a culture that pushes us towards a false pretend happiness so that we can’t achieve real, organic happiness. And I would argue that real organic happiness for communities like ours is to be able to live with all the troubles that we have endured, and yet, to feel an endless, generative love towards ourselves, our community, and the world.

On top of that children live their lives beset by horrors. Why are children so interested in monster stories? Why are children interested in scary stories? Because they know how scary this darn world is. There’s nothing about that book that would even compare to a day in the life of the average, loved, stable, well-taken care of child. Their lives are so full of fears, uncertainty, and threats. Children are vulnerable. They understand vulnerability and they understand overcoming fears. The only person who want these narratives of innocence are more or less adults. Adults who I think want to maintain their own innocence around children, and around larger social questions.

In today’s social environment, people of color are not getting the voice that they deserve. Do you think it will be harder for people in literature to receive that voice? Do they have more work ahead of them? Or do you think there will be more of a push, that it will be easier?
Well I think we have so many writers and artists of color who are doing this work. I’m not some innovation. I’m part of a long, long train of people who are doing this work. When you look at our field, I’m sort of a special cupcake that appears every now and then on the menu. But the truth of it is that there are all these people in the field who’ve been in the trenches doing all this remarkable work.

So many of our people are in children’s literature making organizations, making communities. You think about the work Julia Alvarez who’s been working in children’s literature for a long time. You think about Edwidge Danticat, you think about Jacqueline Woodson, you think about Yuyi Morales, you think about in the Chicanolands Pat Mora. You think about the stuff that Arte Público has done.

I mean, my God, would we as a community have survived our childhoods if it wasn’t for something like Arte Público doing this work for us when we were all being erased? And so we’re in there and now I feel like finally the numbers are turning, and our awareness, and our refusal to live in this just unbearable white world is also turning.

That is the book of our childhoods as people of color. As immigrants. As people who were captured and forced to be slaves. This is a book that has many traumas in them. If we are only going to write children’s books, comprised of fictions of innocence, we will, by that very act, erase ourselves.”

What do you hope that non-children and adults of color will take away from this book?

What we’ve always wanted from everyone, whether it is inside or outside of our community, is to understand at the most profound level how human we are, and how deserving we are of sympathy and love, which is something that society spend an enormous amount of energy denying. And often we ourselves don’t give our communities sympathy or love. It’s a lesson we could all benefit from.

Where do you see children’s literature going in the next ten years?

I would argue that it has become very difficult to sell books. One can say that YA is blowing up, sure, but it’s mostly cannibalizing the adult market. Fiction numbers have dropped across the board. We’re in a tough situation in literary culture. Sorry if I’m a standard Asian-American kid, or if I’m a standard Latinx kid, there’s more that speaks to me online than there often is in literature, and I understand that.

We also live in a culture where no one is encouraged to preserve contemplative spaces. Which means that it’s harder to read. Despite these conditions, there’s no question we continue to maintain a robust literary culture even as it’s under assault. We’ll see. Hopefully we will be able to stop the crease and begin to some ways feel stronger, reach more readers, and hopefully the culture might slow down and give more space for things like reading.

Do you think you’ll write something like this again someday?

I’ve already written another book, so we’ll see. It’ll get to the artist soon – probably a year, year and a half. Now it’s time to get back to my novel. It’s been fun.

Junot Díaz’s Islandborn is in bookstores now from Dial Books for Young Readers.

Women Making Comics: Melina Chavarria and Jean Marie Pilario talk Creating Positive Latinx Representation in Comics

This is an oldie (from Dec 2017) but a goodie from Rosie Knight found here:

I’ve had the pleasure of reading this comic and can recommend it wholeheartedly. I can’t wait for future issues…


Comics have long been (incorrectly) seen as the realm of homogeneous white male creators. It’s not that marginalized creators haven’t always been making incredible comics, but that they have been exactly that: marginalized. Whether it’s the lack of representation in Big Two comics—Marvel infamously didn’t hire a black woman to write a single comic until 2016—or lack of representation in publishing overall, women of color have long been written out of comics history despite being some of its most incredible contributors. During the recent Latino Comics Expo in Long Beach, CA, I met Melina Chavarria and Jean Marie Pilario, co-creators of The Magic Glasses. I was so enamored with their radical work that I asked them to talk about making great comics and creating positive representation in an industry that actively tries to dismantle it.


Originally from Las Vegas, Melina Chavarria describes herself as a “Xicana Autism Warrior Mom,” and for Chavarria her sons are a constant source of creativity. “I have two small boys, ages eight and ten. A lot of my inspiration comes from my daily life with them,” Chavarria shared. After a 15 year career in retail management, the last two years have seen Chavarria focus on honing her skills as a writer. Jean Marie Pilario is a Filipino American Feminist Activist Cartoonist who was born and raised on the island of Guam. After relocating to Vegas, she ended up in her own words as “a burned out student overachiever.” Faced with the question of what she wanted to do with her life, she chose to pursue making comics.

The pair have both created comics for a while now but it was their newest collaboration, The Magic Glasses, which I was lucky enough to pick up.

“About two years ago a friend of mine was going through a difficult time. She said to me ‘I feel like I’ve been playing a video game and I lost.’ I explained to her that life was much like a video game and reminded her that the game has a reset button. I told her she had the power to try again and do it better today,” Chavarria explained. “After this incident, I started to think about how I could help young women like her. I feel like we frequently see and hear stories about young women like her who are growing up in single family homes, many times with no role models, and are in need of some guidance. Hell, life is confusing enough even when you grow up with two parents! So I decided to write a story that incorporated the idea of playing a video game and losing, and searching for glasses. And that’s how The Magic Glasses was born. It’s a story about a young Latina gamer/raver that’s growing up in South Central, trying to figure out the Game of Life,” Chavarria expanded.

Pilario was also driven by the need to tell a story that she was rarely seeing told in mainstream media. “As a young woman of color wanting to do comics in 2009,” Pilario said, “I felt it was very hard to get past being a token representation of diversity and learning. Who could I seek as a mentor if I was a threat or not taken seriously by male counterparts? So I signed up to do The Magic Glasses with Melina in hopes we can cause a ripple effect of interest, friendship, and allyship telling this story of the young people of color, most especially a woman’s point of view.”

When Chavarria came up with the initial story, she had a clear vision for what The Magic Glasses would be. “My aims or goals with this story is to help young women ‘See’ their capabilities, and all of the opportunities that are out there for them when they learn to develop their talents. As the story of The Magic Glasses continues to develop in the upcoming issues, you will see our character Heidy go through a significant transformation. She will grow from an insecure and unsure 18 year old to a more spiritually and socially conscious individual. Once she finds the Magic Glasses, she will become more confident in who she is as a person and all that she has to offer to help her friends and her community,” Chavarria said, opening up about the future of the story.

Crafting the world of The Magic Glasses saw Pilario working on how to balance her own lived experiences with that of the character, a challenge which led to more collaboration between the two creators. “It was difficult because I wanted to be authentic about how I portrayed Heidy’s home life. I grew up as a Filipino American, and while there are many similarities, I know that I don’t have my whole life mirrored to our main character. I come from a privileged home with both parents that are white collar workers. I did a lot of research about what South Central looks like, what the interior of Mexican homes look like, considered the rooms of gamers, and had to directly consult what was okay with Melina. I think that’s important when we consider diversity in comics,” Pilario pondered.

The main protagonist is a gamer, and crafting a visual landscape that represented both that and her femininity was an interesting task for Pilario. “Heidy’s body language as a stubborn gamer has been fueled by the many years of growing up with my brother. Sleeping in a gamer chair with nerdy paraphernalia everywhere was something I processed for the visual world. But my pride and joy in the character design is Heidy’s thick body type. As a cartoonist, it is a huge proponent to my creative agenda in portraying bodies that are realistic and relatable to women readers and exposing this to male readers,” Pilario said.

With The Magic Glasses, both the Chavarria and Pilario were driven by the need to create the representation that they’d always been lacking. “Growing up, raised by Mexican immigrants, I never heard or saw characters that looked like me from the community I grew up in. It wasn’t until I was in college that I was even introduced to Xicano/Latino writers. With The Magic Glasses we wanted to tell stories about real women from our communities that look like us and that young women can relate to,” Chavarria shared.

Pilario is happy to see a change in the face of the comics community, one that she and Chavarria are a proud part of. “I like to think of myself as part of a wave in this whole movement of representation. I grew up reading Archie comics, newspaper comic strips, and fantasizing about how I could be a girl just like in Japanese manga. Even while reading these I never saw me, and I’d been hard on myself for not being a certain way. I’d like to think that The Magic Glasses and other comics being created in the same vein can move another wave to expand this storytelling. Comics can be a mechanism that humanizes people considered as ‘other,’” Pilario stated.

The pair both believe that comics’ future lies in young and diverse creators, and have some great advice for any marginalized creators trying to get into the industry. “Your story needs to be told, and you’re the only one that can tell it. When you start to get out there, promote your work, and meet people, you will build a community of people who’re going to support you and help you succeed. As they say, your vibe attracts your tribe. And when you have figured out the path, and which doors have worked for you, leave them open so that we can help others do the same,” Chavarria positively exclaimed.

Pilario agrees. “Your narrative and voice is important. Three things to succeed at comics: Practice, Read Often, and Get Edited. The story that makes sense in your head may not always make sense to everyone else. We are in the business and power of bridging gaps, but we just need to seek the resources and tools out there for this medium. In Las Vegas where my small comics press company Plot Twist Publishing exists, we try to be an educational resource teaching comics, and so often our classroom is filled with eager young girls,” Pilario explained, giving an insight into her process as a creator and teacher.

The future of The Magic Glasses includes a second issue in March 2018, a Spanish language version of issue one, and hopefully a trade paperback collection too. Chavarria is currently working on some bilingual graphic novels and stories that her collaborator is very excited about. “I predict Melina will go on to make meaningful novels while succeeding as a comics writer too,” Pilario excitedly cheered on her friend and co-creator. “She’s got a lot to say and she’s such a visionary. I will continue to produce indie comics under my indie comic label Plot Twist Publishing that welcomes women readers, writers, and collaborators. It’s important for me as a creator to also be an educational resource through and through,” Pilario happily finished.

Rev of Jimmy Patino’s Raza Si, Migra No Chicano Movement Struggles for Immigrant Rights in San Diego

Book review by Lori Flores can be found here:

As immigration from Mexico to the United States grew through the 1970s and 1980s, the Border Patrol, police, and other state agents exerted increasing violence against ethnic Mexicans in San Diego’s volatile border region. In response, many San Diego activists rallied around the leadership of the small-scale print shop owner Herman Baca in the Chicano movement to empower Mexican Americans through Chicano self-determination. The combination of increasing repression and Chicano activism gradually produced a new conception of ethnic and racial community that included both established Mexican Americans and new Mexican immigrants. In Raza Si, Migra No: Chicano Movement Struggles for Immigrant Rights in San Diego (University of North Carolina Press, 2017), Jimmy Patino narrates the rise of this Chicano/Mexicano consciousness and the dawning awareness that Mexican Americans and Mexicans would have to work together to fight border enforcement policies that subjected Latinos of all statuses to legal violence.

By placing the Chicano and Latino civil rights struggle on explicitly transnational terrain, Patino fundamentally reorients the understanding of the Chicano movement. Ultimately, Patio tells the story of how Chicano/Mexicano politics articulated an abolitionist position on immigration–going beyond the agreed upon assumptions shared by liberals and conservatives alike that deportations are inherent to any solutions to the still burgeoning immigration debate.

Jimmy Patino is Assistant Professor of Chicano and Latino studies at the University of Minnesota. His broader research and teaching interests include Comparative Ethnic Studies, Chicano/a-Latino/a History, diaspora/transnationalism/borderlands, social movements and political mobilizations, and Cultural Studies.

Book rev. of Greña / Crazy Hair by Kianny Antigua

Gerald A. Padilla provides this book review for Check it out here:—grentildeacrazy-hair–latino-book-review.html


An endearing story about a young girl and her curly hair. Greña / Crazy Hair is a short yet empowering, bilingual, children’s book that addresses multiple themes of self-esteem and family love for parents and children to enjoy.

The energetic, curly haired girl, Kiara, teaches us how beautiful, strong, enigmatic and free her hair is, as she demonstrates its beauty and uniqueness through various positive activities. In this story, we witness a girl who embraces her appearance, giving a valuable example for the children of today.

The author, Kianny N. Angtigua has a clear goal in mind—that is to create culturally relevant children’s literature with strong and loving characters. Meanwhile, the illustrator, Vanessa Balleza, fills the pages with soft, fun and distinctive illustrations that will surely paint a smile on the readers face. 

Kianny N. Antigua (San Francisco de Macorís, Dominican Republic) is a Spanish Lecturer and writer. She has published Mía y el regalo de Guaguau / Mía and the Gift from Guaguau (C. Lit. 2017), Caléndula (Novel, 2016), among others. She received the XV Concurso Nacional de Cuento Sociedad Cultural Alianza Cibaeña, 2016 and the Premio Letras de Ultramar, Children’s Lit., 2015. Some of her stories have been translated to Italian, French and English.

Greña / Crazy Hair is a publication by Kianny N. Antigua. Click here to purchase.  

XI International Conference on Chicano Literature and Latino Studies

Is anyone going to be in Spain at the end of May?! Great opportunity for a conference…

XI International Conference on Chicano Literature and Latino Studies

original post by Xanath Caraza found here:

The XI International Conference on Chicano Literature and Latino Studies, organized by HispaUSA and the Universidad de Salamanca, with the collaboration of the instituto Franklin-UAH, will be held in Salamanca, May 28-30, 2018.

This conference draws attention to the different interpretations of the concept “Latinidad” at the present time, also looking towards the future.  Therefore, “Latinidad” involves the blend of cultures recreating different identities, often forgotten in an exercise of permanent reconstruction.

Durante más de dos décadas un grupo de profesores, académicos e intelectuales españoles y norteamericanos han venido estudiando de forma conjunta la realidad de los hispanos en Estados Unidos.  Es precisamente fruto de este encuentro por lo que surge HispaUSA.  Una asociación sin ánimo de lucro, cuyos fines son estimular, fomentar e impulsar el estudio y la investigación en todas las áreas relacionadas con la cultura y la sociedad hispana en los Estados Unidos; así como fomentar la interrelación entre el mundo hispano de Estados Unidos y España.

HispaUSA tiene su sede en el Instituto Franklin de la Universidad de Alcalá de Henares, un centro que desde 1987 ha impulsado el estudio de Norteamérica así como la colaboración institucional entre Estados Unidos y España.

Este 2018 en Salamanca del 28 al 30 de mayo se lleva a cabo la XI International Conference on Chicano Literature and Latino Studies.

Book rev. of Elizabeth Acevedo’s The Poet X

A riveting book review by Melinda Zepeda for Make sure to check out the original post here:—poet-x–latino-book-review.html


Xiomara, the protagonist in Elizabeth Acevedo’s debut YA book titled The Poet X, is an adolescent navigating her way through the confusions and challenges posed by both her Dominican mother’s strict Catholic expectations and Xiomara’s own inability to believe in the strength of her voice. The novel, set in New York’s Harlem, is a coming-of-age novel, complete with the excitement of first love and the disappointments they often bring. Even so, this novel isn’t first and foremost a love story in the heteronormative sense of girl-loves-boy and vice versa; the greatest love story found in The Poet X is between the poet and her poetry. None of Xiomara’s relationships—not with her parents, her twin, her best friend, her love interest, her teacher mentor—provide the deep sense of courage and completeness Xiomara finds through her writing and eventual performance of that writing. The story testifies to the power of voice.   
The Poet X, in its structure, pays homage to the poem. Its first-person narrator reveals herself in a series of poems, many of which are capable of standing alone. From an alternate lens, the structure of The Poet X simultaneously pays homage to the novel, developed in complex and nuanced lyrical chapter-poems that portray the complexity of youth. The Poet X allows non- young adult-aged readers to recall nostalgically their youth while young adult-aged readers find hope that their intrapersonal gifts will sustain them through their interpersonal challenges.
Elizabeth Acevedo was born and raised in New York City. She is a National Slam Champion, fellow of the Cantomundo poetry workshop, and author of the chapbook Beastgirl & Other Origin MythsThe Poet X is her first novel. 

Poet X is published by Harper Collins Publishers. Click here to purchase

New film: Home + Away

Shoutout to Manuel Betancourt for a thrilling article written for Remezcla. View the original with photos here:


The opening images of Matt Ogens’ film Home + Away seem pretty straightforward. We’re merely watching as Erik starts his daily walk to school. Only, like many of his schoolmates at Bowie High School, Erik begins his day in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and must cross the border to El Paso, Texas in order to make his first class. This observational doc (don’t expect any talking heads discussing Trumpian rhetoric or the infamous wall) puts viewers right in the middle of the border life students at Bowie experience every day. In addition to Erik, who struggles in English class and finds comfort at soccer practice, Home + Away follows Shyanne, a star wrestler who’s considering joining the army and Francisco, who wishes his dad were allowed into the U.S. so he could make his baseball games.

Part coming-of-age story and part sports documentary (think Hoop Dreams meets The Other Side of Immigration for the DREAMer generation) Ogens’ film hopes to humanize the border. “There’s a lot of judgment that people makes on both sides of the debate and we forget about the people living there,” he told Remezcla. In focusing his camera on these three kids, following them as they wrestle with homework, deal with demanding but loving coaches, and spend time with their supportive families on both sides of border, Home + Away paints a picture of what it’s like to live in between two worlds.

He hopes it will inspire audiences to approach these issues with more empathy. “We should empathize and be curious instead of coming in with an opinion,” he told us. In that spirit, find five things we learned from this doc.


Bowie High School Is the US’s Closest School to the Border

Given the focus on the topic of immigration, Ogens was clear on wanting to offer a different take on the border and Bowie seemed perfect. “What I found unique that I didn’t know was how many of the kids live in Juarez,” he said, “or have family and are commuting back and forth daily or weekly. I thought that was unique and worth investigating further. Because when it comes to the wall or the border, we’re often just hearing the bigger topic—the macro. Rarely do we really see the humanity of it, the characters on the ground, how they’re personally affected. I wanted to do more of a three-dimensional portrait of the border rather than just the general macro of it all.”

Just Filming on the Border Is a Political Act

One of the most uncomfortable moments in the film comes courtesy of a classroom of students watching the Presidential inauguration on TV which prompts Shyanne to admit she’s scared and another student to say she hopes “the president gets the job done.” “I didn’t want to make it a political film,” Ogens shared. “It’s more of a setting, an environment, and we all know as an audience what’s going on. We already come in knowing the topic of the border. So in that regard I didn’t need to recap everything. I sort of just followed the kids. You see the border there and you come to your own conclusions. The closest we got is when we watch them watching the inauguration. It’s funny that scene is the first day of shooting: first scene we shot in the entire shoot! It’s not something we set up. They were just watching it. So I captured what was happening.”

El Paso and Juarez Are “Sister Cities”

Ogens’ doc moves seamlessly between the two border cities, mirroring the ease with which the students it follows do—even when their own families are stuck sometimes on either side. But there’s a bustling border community being captured here. “There’s a lot of that not just between El Paso and Juarez but all across the border,” he noted. “Whether families coming across to work or families who have families on both sides, kids coming across coming for a better future. All along the border, it’s almost like along it are sister cities. They rely on each other. There’s commerce, there’s people. If you just stop that, it’d have massive effects on both sides.”

Sports Is an Escape for These Kids

Part of being an immigrant, especially in a border town, is that need to prove oneself and to not be defined solely by where you’re from. In focusing on athletes, Ogens hoped to reflect that. “For teenagers [who play sports], for a couple of hours a day they don’t have to think about poverty, about grades, about cartels if you live in Juarez. They can just be teenagers. And even though that’s the case, Bowie High School is kind of looked down upon in El Paso. They stereotype them. So, even within sports they have to prove themselves. They don’t have great equipment or funding for sports so they still, even on the court, or the mat or the field, have to prove themselves. Which I thought was a good metaphor for what they’re dealing with in life.”

Activism Along the Border Is “Not That Loud”

If politics with a capital P is absent from the film, it is because, as Ogens shared, you just don’t see that as much when you’re on the ground. “We’ve seen marches in LA and NYC and in the big cities about the wall but there it’s not that loud,” he acknowledged. “People aren’t that loud about it. Sure, there’s some activists and there are some marches, but I’d say the marches in the bigger cities are even bigger.” He has some ideas as to why that is: “people down there are dealing with the immediate. Which is, you know, putting food on the table for their families, working, that kind of thing. They don’t all have time to be activists. The other thing is that they’re still teenagers and they’re dealing with high school stuff. And the third thing is, in their communities they’ve sort of been taught to not call too much attention to their families because maybe they’re related to someone who’s undocumented or someone who’s trying to get a visa, or whatever and don’t want to raise hell about it.”

Funding opportunity: LibroMobile

Please keep in mine that I am in no way affiliated with this project. With that being said, it seems like a worthwhile endeavor if you have any spare scrila laying around.

To support it, go here:


LibroMobile is a tiny bookstore and community literary space located in the heart of Santa Ana, California. It was initiated in 2016 by Sarah Rafael Garcia, founder of Barrio Writers and author of SanTana’s Fairy Tales and Las Niñas: A Collection of Childhood Memories. LibroMobile started as a literary arts project in collaboration with the non-profits Red Salmon Arts and Community Engagement to integrate literature, visual exhibits, creative workshops, and live readings in Santa Ana.

LibroMobile’s mission is to promote literacy and diversity in Santa Ana by offering affordable books written by authors of color and cultivating a community space for the literary arts.We focus on having bilingual and Spanish books available for children, youth, and adults. LibroMobile also carries many fiction and non-fiction books about diverse American cultures and social justice issues.

LibroMobile began as a pop-up bookmobile cart traveling throughout Santa Ana visiting local community cafes, shops, and cultural centers. The unique design of LibroMobile captivated the community. People would stop to interact and contemplate its aesthetic; reminiscent of paleteros, iconic fruit vendor carts typically found in the corners of downtown Santa Ana. Since then, we have transformed from a bookmobile cart to residing on a stairwell on “Calle Cuarto” in Santa Ana to a tiny bookstore.

LibroMobile strives to cultivate knowledge and literary resources to Santa Ana families and support to local artists and authors. We emphasize the concept of reciprocity by giving back to the Latinx community we primarily serve. In order to fulfill our mission of promoting literacy and diversity in Santa Ana, we offer new and used books at affordable prices, we service five free little libraries in the community and offer a book exchange program so everyone can have access to diverse literature.


LibroMobile is faced with the challenge of not having enough Spanish books for its bilingual community in Santa Ana. Although we have a handful of Spanish poetry and non-fiction books, that fly off our shelves on a weekly basis. We never have quite enough books to restock our Spanish book collection. More than half of LibroMobile’s books come from donations of gently used and new books. Spanish books are typically more expensive than English books and are the least donated by LibroMobile’s supporters.

On a daily basis LibroMobile receives requests for Spanish books, unfortunately, we cannot meet the demands of our Latinx population. The majority of customers seeking for Spanish books are older folks –abuelitas, abuelitos, children looking for books for their parents, and parents looking for books for their children to retain their Spanish language.

It is nostalgic to think our community wants to read famous Latinx writers all the time, but many ask for contemporary writers. They want to read Steven King and Edgar Allan Poe in their Spanish language as well as Carmen Boullosa and Gabriel García Márquez. Our Spanish speaking customers want to read books in Spanish that everybody is reading and watching at the movies. LibroMobile is seeking support to better serve their community of Spanish speakers and be able to purchase 400 contemporary Spanish books to fully stock their Spanish book section.

Funds go to:

In efforts to support Latinx presses and Spanish language publishers, all funds will go to purchasing Spanish books directly from Spanish language publishers that carry contemporary authors. Our estimated cost is roughly $4,000 for 400 Spanish books. Some books will be purchased from the following database of Latinx book presses (click here for list). Our list will continue to expand as we continue to do more research on Spanish language publishers. Suggestions are welcomed!

The Impact

LibroMobile is the only Latinx owned, bilingual bookstore in Santa Ana, California, a predominantly Mexican-American and immigrant community with 80% identified as Latinx and 72% of Spanish speakers; it is critical that we cultivate a space and provide access to literature that is representative of the language and intersectional identities of our community. It is heartbreaking to see the lack of diversity in the literary world with only 6% of Latinx represented in the overall publishing industry. It is important for children to grow up and see themselves and their culture authentically represented in the stories they read. Bilingual children, children of immigrants and all diverse children deserve spaces where they can dream, grow and learn. Books and literature are transformative and can be the seeds that spark ideas, inspire, and empower us to dream a little bigger. The meaning behind your contribution is greater than the physical Spanish book, it is the support to diverse stories, diverse writers, ideas, and dreams.

Other ways you can help

Even if you are not able to make a monetary donation, you can still help us out!

We do accept gently used books. If you would like to donate a gently used Spanish book you can mail it to:


℅ Sarah Rafael Garcia

125  N. Broadway, #214

Santa Ana, CA 92701


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Catching up with Gabi Mendez about Lemonade Summer

Original post by Jameson Hampton found here:

Comics are a great medium to get stories in front of kids and Lemonade Summer is a new comics anthology that’s hoping to make the most of that. Currently running a kickstarter campaign, this anthology by Gabi Mendez features seven stories about queer, transgender and non-binary youth coming of age, learning important things about themselves and fostering friendships with each other, all while going on summer adventures. The premise is sweet, the art is cute and the project itself is important — there just aren’t enough stories for queer kids about queer kids.

Even better, Cow House Press realizes how important it is to get these stories in the hands of the kids that need them. That’s why this kickstarter features a number of pledging options that will allow backers to donate additional copies of the book to libraries and youth centers, at discounted prices!

We had a chance to have a short chat with creator Gabi Mendez about her intentions for this adorable anthology.

Rogues Portal (RP): Is this your first major comic? What else have you worked on in the past?
Gabi Mendez (GM): I’ve never worked on anything so big! A few of the stories have been self-published and sold at smaller events. I’ve done this with stories that aren’t in the book as well; one an eight page sci-fi about hope for humanity, the other a story I made as a companion to another friend’s story that had to do with a monster stealing panties from a summer camp as tribute for protection from the goat man. This book is the majority of my finished comics though!

RP: What inspired you to focus on queer stories for kids? What do you hope to accomplish with this book?
GM: I think representation is very important. The LGBTQ stories that reach major media honestly tend to be tragedies, and the stories for queer youth tend to be about the struggle of being closeted and coming out. This is absolutely a reality most of us go through, but while I don’t want to shy away from those narratives, I think we deserve more. Queer kids deserve to see themselves as pirates, as witches, as the kids we were just trying to navigate adolescence with the happy endings we seek.

RP: From what did you draw inspiration for these stories specifically? Are there references to your own childhood?
GM: There are many many references to my own childhood, yes! Even from the tiny details, like the neighborhood Ro an Ella walk through; that’s my neighborhood down to the coffee shop with the old men. And in the case of Witching Hour, being distressed and finding solace in a long bike ride. A lot of them are based on experiences I think we’ve all had. Falling out with friends, not wanting to be who we’re told we have to be, making new friends, missing old ones before they’re even gone. Chole (from the story Aventurera) and I share the issue of having a nickname people rarely pronounce right (those are Hispanic vowels!)

RP: Do you have a favorite (or two) of the 7 stories that are included?
GM: I think Aventurera and Ro & Ella are my favorites, though I’m very attached to all of them. They are both the oldest and the newest stories in the collection. I think I relate most to those main characters. As a kid I was like Ro, wanting to be friends with everyone and jumping in to things too fast, speaking too soon. Meanwhile, Chole’s identity is based off my own, especially as a teenager; she’s Latina and bisexual, not good at talking about her feelings but feeling way too much. Both stories are very positive slice-of-life type stories, which are my favorite to make and read.

RP: What are some of the overarching themes that span multiple of the stories? What are you really trying to say with this anthology? What do you want people to take away from it?
GM: The biggest themes in Lemonade Summer are friendship and finding the places you belong. What I really want people to take from this book is that queer people exist everywhere, trying to navigate life just like everyone else. No matter how different people may seem, there will always be things we have in common with each other. The most important thing we can do in life is have empathy for each other, it’s easier than you’d think.

RP: What’s next? Do you have any other interesting projects in the works?
GM: I am working on a series of stories with a magical realism bent for a slightly older audience, which is new for me! Have you ever looked at the path the sun makes on the ocean at sunrise or sunset and thought that maybe you could cross it? That maybe it leads somewhere else? I definitely have. So perhaps I’ll publish those stories together, but for now I’m just trying to survive grad school.

RP: Is there anything else I didn’t touch on that you’d like to share?
GM: Lemonade Summer may be my art and my stories, but it’s a project that a lot of really cool and talented people came together to make happen. Cow House Press is made up of and supported by the best people, all with a vision to populate the world with fun diverse books!