A Group Of Students Burned A Latina Author’s Book Because They Felt Attacked For Being White

Amazing article by Brianna Sacks for Buzzfeednews: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/briannasacks/georgia-southern-burned-latina-authors-book

 

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A group of students at a predominantly white public university in Georgia burned the book of a Latina author who had delivered a lecture on campus after some attendees accused her of “dissing white people.”

Jennine Capó Crucet, a New York Times contributor and associate professor at the University of Nebraska, spoke about her novel Make Your Home Among Strangers at Georgia Southern University on Wednesday night. The award-winning book, published in 2015, tells the story of a Cuban American girl from Miami who gets accepted to a prestigious college in New York and struggles to fit into the privileged, predominantly white environment.

The book was required reading for some of Georgia Southern’s First-Year Experience classes, according to the university.

On Wednesday evening, the school hosted Crucet, who spoke to the entire first-year class at the performing arts center. When she opened the floor to the audience for questions, some attendees peppered her for criticizing white people, according to the George-Anne, the university’s newspaper.

“I noticed that you made a lot of generalizations about the majority of white people being privileged,” one student said to the author, according to the paper. “What makes you believe that it’s okay to come to a college campus, like this, when we are supposed to be promoting diversity on this campus, which is what we’re taught. I don’t understand what the purpose of this was.”

Responding to the student, Crucet said that she was invited to speak at the university and discussed white privilege because “it’s a real thing that you are actually benefiting from right now in even asking this question,” according to the George-Anne.

Her answer elicited more questions about race from the audience.

BuzzFeed News spoke with six first-year students, five women and one man, who attended the lecture, all of whom asked not to be named. The students were required to attend the lecture, along with hundreds of their classmates, and said that Crucet attacked white people “for an hour” and assumed that the entire audience was privileged.

“She came to our school and, the audience was predominantly white, and she came in and was attacking white people for an hour, putting all these stereotypes and generalizations on us,” said one 18-year-old attendee. “Like all white people are privileged and racist.”

Another student said the audience reacted when the author stated that most white people “needed to be removed from authority positions because two-thirds of people in high positions should not be white.”

“She wanted everyone to be equal and says she is against racism but she was shitting on white people the whole time,” the 18-year-old male student said. “I can understand the message she was trying to get out but I don’t know what reaction she was expecting when she comes to a school that’s 75% white. I agree there is such a thing as white privilege but the way she was saying it was not OK to our student body.”

All of the students who spoke with BuzzFeed News were born and raised in Georgia. One of the students said she is half-Dominican; the rest are white.

After the event, Crucet tweeted that there had been “aggressive & ignorant comments” during her Q&A and thanked “some very amazing, brilliant students” who stood up for her during the exchange.

“At the signing, we hugged & cried,” she wrote. “I‘m happy to know them and also legit worried for their safety.”

In her replies, several people who allegedly attended the event accused her of “bullying white people.”

“The only reason anyone showed up is because it was required and after the racist bigotry you displayed against the white race we should all be compensated for your book. I’m all for equality but not for hate which is what you displayed,” one user said.

Later that night, a group of students gathered on campus and burned her book, according to statements from the university and videos posted on Twitter. Some even gathered outside her hotel, the school’s department of Writing and Linguistics said on Facebook, writing that it is “dismayed and disappointed by the uproar against” the author.

“Last night’s discussion with the author devolved into accusations of her demonstrating racism against white people,” Dr. Russell Willerton, the department chair, said in a statement. “Some students burned copies of Crucet’s book and even gathered outside her hotel. We assert that destructive and threatening acts do not reflect the values of Georgia Southern University.”

A student in the class — who asked that her name not be used for safety reasons — was walking outside of the Eagle Village dorm complex when she said she saw a group of students burning something.

“I thought it was s’mores at first,” the first-year student told BuzzFeed News. “So when my friends and I went to see what it was, we saw the students yelling and laughing and throwing the books in the fire.”

In the video, the group is gathered around a grill filled with copies of Crucet’s book, and they’re laughing.

The student, who is majoring in nursing, said that when she asked her peers why they were burning the piece of literature they said, “because the book was bad.”

elaina⭐️@elainaaan

so after our FYE book’s author came to my school to talk about it… these people decide to burn her book because “it’s bad and that race is bad to talk about”. white people need to realize that they are the problem and that their privilege is toxic. author is a woman of color.

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When asked about the book burning, the group of first-year students who asked to remain anonymous told BuzzFeed News that about 20 to 30 of their classmates had gathered to burn the novel in a fire pit.

In a statement provided to BuzzFeed News, Crucet said that after the event her campus hosts had moved her from her original lodging accommodations to another hotel in a different town.

It was only when she read the statement from the department chair that she learned students had gathered outside the hotel she had previously planned to stay at.

“During the event, and afterward during the book signing, many students remarked on how much the story of the novel’s protagonist mirrored their own,
and expressed gratitude for the book—both to me for writing it, and to GSU for selecting it as their FYE read,” Crucet said. “To think of those students watching as a group of their peers burned that story— effectively erasing them on the campus they are expected to think of as a safe space—feels devastating.”

Crucet tweeted several times about the experience, writing, “This is where we are, America.”

Jennine Capó Crucet@crucet

Students at @GeorgiaSouthern literally burning my novel. This is where we are, America. https://twitter.com/camyafeel/status/1182129125907222529 

In now-deleted tweets, first-year students replied to the author with ripped up copies of her book and footage of people lighting the pages on fire.

Other students, however, rallied behind Crucet, thanking her for coming to their campus and apologizing for what she went through. A Georgia Southern junior, who is studying history, emailed BuzzFeed News and said that many students on campus are “disappointed with these book burning students.”

“We are also disappointed with our administration, as racial tension events have occurred in the past (what seems like an almost yearly occurrence now),” she wrote. “The admin of the university never really disciplined those involved, which leads there to be little consequences to deter those events from happening again.”

While several of the university’s departments have condemned the book burning, John Lester, vice president for Strategic Communications and Marketing, said that they are “not planning any actions against any of the students involved in this incident.”

“While it’s within the students’ First Amendment rights, book burning does not align with Georgia Southern’s values nor does it encourage the civil discourse and debate of ideas,” Lester said.

In an email to faculty, GSU President Kyle Marrero described the evening’s events as an “example of freedom of expression.”

“Specific to the reported events of that evening, while it’s within the students’ First Amendment rights, book burning does not align with Georgia Southern’s values nor does it encourage the civil discourse and debate of ideas,” Marrero wrote.

He continued that he wished students “had engaged in a reasoned discussion” and that “these discussions had not deteriorated or led to broad generalizations that paint an ugly picture about our university.”

A professor who provided the email to BuzzFeed News said faculty members were “extremely dissatisfied with this response.”

Crucet was supposed to deliver another lecture on Thursday at the university’s Armstrong campus, but the school canceled it “due to unforeseen circumstances.”

Although Georgia Southern is 63% white, nearly a quarter of students are black and 6% are Hispanic. In a statement, the school’s counseling center said it has a “diverse staff of clinicians who are prepared to support students’ emotional needs.

“We recognize that such incidents can be traumatizing to Latinx/Hispanic students and other marginalized communities,” the center said.

In her statement, Crucet called on the university to support students who may feel unsafe as a result of the incident.

“This book began as an act of love and an attempt at deeper understanding,” Crucet said. “I hope GSU can act from the same place and work to affirm the humanity of those students who might understandably feel unsafe in the aftermath of the event and the book burning, and that the campus continues the difficult and necessary conversation that began in that auditorium.”

The student in the class who said she saw the burning said she was shocked and disheartened by what transpired during the lecture, which she called “good and informative,” and the fact that students burned the author’s novel.

“Students wanted her to talk more about the book over the white privilege stuff but I think that talking about that looped in perfectly because the book was based on her life and her experience with white privilege or lack there of,” the first-year student said. “She’s a Latina woman.”

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‘My Papi Has A Motorcycle’ Pays Loving Tribute To A California Childhood

This write up and interview for NPR by Leila Fadel and Samantha Balaban. Check out the site for audio!

 

My Papi Has a Motorcycle, by Isabel Quintero and Zeke Peña, pays tribute to the rapidly-changing city of Corona, Calif., where Quintero grew up.

Kokila

In My Papi Has A Motorcyle, a little girl named Daisy Ramona waits for her dad to come home from work so they can ride around their city, Corona, Calif., on the back of his motorcycle. They pass a tortilla shop, a raspado shop, her grandparent’s house, and her dad’s construction site.

Zeke Peña, left, and Isabel Quintero

Zeke Peña/Charles Lenida

 

The book is illustrated by Zeke Peña and written by Isabel Quintero. It’s a love letter to the city, and her father.

“When I was a kid my dad would get home from work, and he put me on the back of his motorcycle and he would drive me around the neighborhood I grew up in in Corona,” Quintero remembers, “and you know, it was the ’80s, so there were no helmets — in the book, obviously, there’s helmets, but it was a different time. And you know, I really was holding onto that memory and it was so special to me, that relationship between myself and my dad.”

My Papi Has a Motorcycle, by Isabel Quintero and Zeke Peña

Kokila

This summer we’ve been asking authors and illustrators how they work together to bring stories to life. They often don’t — but illustrator Zeke Peña says he and Quintero chatted back and forth constantly. “She even was cool enough to go drive in her car around the neighborhood that she grew up in so I could physically see the space and see the turns of the corners, see the trees, the way the homes are built — kind of those things. This shows through in the story, right? Like there’s really specific things that are from Isabel’s memory, you know? I sneak some things from my own memory in there a little bit as a kid, but there’s this specificity. That’s what for me makes the story so strong, is that Isabel has this personal experience, and we’re we’re trying to tap into that and illustrate that, and kind of create that spark for for other readers young and old.”

“When I was a kid in Corona there was a tortilleria — in the book it’s Tortilleria Estrella, in real life it was Tortilleria Don Leon — and that was torn down,” Quintero says. “I think those things are are pretty specific to where I was at. But I think other people can connect to living in a community where you walk to places like a tortilleria or to Joy’s Market. Zeke did such an amazing job with that market, that so many people have told me, like, I know that market. That market’s in my neighborhood, you know, with the piñatas outside, and the little gumball machines, and the carnicería inside the store. So it is very specific, but it’s also a story that especially Latinx kids in other parts of the country can enjoy or relate to.”

“For me in the book, it’s like that first page — Daisy Ramona’s working on the motorcycle, and she’s working with this toolbox, and that was my dad, like that’s kind of really what I got from my dad, was you know, learning how to work with my hands, learning how to work hard and stuff,” Peña says. “But I think that with Isabel and I, it’s nice because a lot of our backgrounds as people who identify as Latinx or Chicanx or Chicanos, there’s this really narrow definition of what that is. But the nice thing with my collaboration with Isabel is that we span like a spectrum of that, right? And it doesn’t necessarily look just one way. I hope that the youth reading our book walk away with a validation of their own story, and where their own family comes from and their heritage. And their right to it, their right to express that as they wish.”

Isabel Quintero says she teared up at this image of Daisy Ramona’s visit to her dad’s work site.

Kokila

 

“Going off the toolbox,” Quintero adds, “my dad also works with his hands. And so that scene, that spread, where Daisy Ramona gets to the worksite with her dad is probably one of my favorite scenes in the book, because Zeke was able to capture so much emotion of what it’s like for a kid like myself, like when I was a kid, going to work with my dad, and that happiness and that joy of getting to see where my dad worked. You know, hearing the sound of the the music, the music in Spanish in the background, and the men yelling at each other and cracking jokes. So when I opened to that spread I cried, because you don’t see a lot of celebration of working class people in children’s books, especially not working class brown men. And I know there will be a lot of children who will be able to say, oh, that’s my dad.”

We couldn’t ignore that we’re talking about Isabel Quintero’s love letter to her city and her people; Zeke Peña is from El Paso — and earlier this month his city suffered an enormous loss, a mass shooting that targeted the Latinx community and took the lives of 20 people.

“It breaks my heart, it breaks my heart to see these people suffering. To see my people suffering. Our community,” he says. “You know, who am I to be commenting on it. I do have friends and family that were affected directly. My love goes out to those people. And also my action goes out to those people, right? That’s something that we’re all going to have to live with for the rest of our lives. And we’re going to hopefully do something to change it.”

This piece was produced for radio by Samantha Balaban and Barrie Hardymon, and adapted for the Web by Petra Mayer.

Resurrecting ‘Stories That Must Not Die,’ A Chilling, Seminal Collection of South Texas Folklore by Juan Sauvageau

This piece by Joe Galvan is dynamite: https://www.texasmonthly.com/the-culture/stories-that-must-not-die-juan-sauvageau-south-texas-folklore/?fbclid=IwAR2sJMUsPo0z6bhiElWcXG1IArxXhlHydnwPTjXfWZlB64qOzwYs11gOD0U

It’s a deep, midnight-colored October evening in 1992. The first chill of autumn has arrived in Harlingen, bringing a reprieve from the summer heat that has lingered too long. Eight-year-old me pulls a dog-eared paperback from my backpack and I turn on the bedside lamp. The book’s edges have yellowed, but the pages inside remain creamy white. Flipping through it, I can smell decades of history—its stories told countless times on cool concrete porches or warm wooden rockers or over coffee-stained kitchen tables. I read the title out loud—Stories That Must Not Die. Ask anyone who went to elementary school in South Texas what Stories That Must Not Die is, and you’ll hear a variety of answers. To scholars, it’s a collection of folklore. To teachers, it’s a valuable bilingual teaching aid. To students and parents, though, it’s a treasure trove of the region’s best-known, most beloved tales.

There is a sophistication and poise in Stories That Must Not Die, a sort of straightforward beauty in each of the collected stories. Juan Sauvageau’s Spanish translations bear the hallmarks of border Spanish—the indigenous loanwords, the syntax, the same two-stepping cadences and rhythms that aren’t found anywhere else. Think of your grandmother sitting under a warm yellow bug light under the carport on a humid evening, sipping a cup of black coffee, speaking with all the gravitas of a courtroom deposition about the apparition of the infamous Woman in Black, or the devil in the Bluetown well on the way to Brownsville. Try not to scoff at the miraculous cures that Don Pedrito Jaramillo made in his clapboard cabin in Hebbronville, tenuous proof of faith in a faithless world. Try not to say a prayer when you hear thunder crack through the bluest sea breeze of a hot South Texas afternoon. These are all things I read in Stories That Must Not Die, and was moved by the singular resonance of their simplicity and bilingual elegance.

These ghost stories are not merely told to frighten children into behaving. They are the record of a collective memory marred by colonialism and intergenerational violence, a world of ranches and chaparral touched by fire from Mexican muskets and Texas Ranger pistols and lightning from above. And we would not have them had it not been for a French-Canadian man who came to be known as Juan Sauvageau.

Born in Québec, John James Sauveageau was the author of all four volumes of Stories That Must Not Die. He lived and worked in Mexico, France, Spain, and other parts of the United States before coming to South Texas sometime during the mid-20th century to teach at what is now Texas A&M–Kingsville. Intrigued by idiosyncratic Tejano culture, he visited ranches and towns from Laredo to Brownsville in search of folklore.

By the mid-1970s the tales he’d collected were showing up in local newspapers, all over the Rio Grande Valley. Sauvageau—who had changed his first name to Juan—had collected a handful of stories in Spanish, translated them into English, and published them in 1976. All four volumes have an eye-catching design: The titles appear in a chunky Roman font, accompanied by a drawing of a jeweled, hilted sword pointing downward. Roel Montalvo’s illustrations are loopy and true to their 1970s origin (one of the depicted characters resembles Charles Bronson, helmet hair and all).

Sauvageau—who died in Meridian, Idaho in 2011—originally wrote Stories That Must Not Die with young readers in mind. Their entire purpose was to foster bilingual literacy and cultural understanding. At that point, very few people (Gloria Anzaldúa and Américo Paredes, for example) had tackled the torturous history of the Rio Grande Valley as a standalone subject. But Sauvageau carefully collected the stories and presented them in a storybook format, along with a word list and reading comprehension questions in both English and Spanish. Kids and teachers loved the stories for different reasons: teachers appreciated the folkloric tales’ educational impact, while scary story-loving kids ate up the accounts of ghostly weeping women, poor little naked birds, and vanishing hitchhikers–stories all situated in their own backyard.

But the real brilliance of Stories That Must Not Die lies in its matter-of-fact retellings of key moments in Tejano history. “Los Rinches,” for instance, is a half-true recounting of the Texas Rangers’ misdeeds in South Texas, which were only commemorated in recent years with a historical marker near Brownsville. Another tells the true tale of Gregorio Cortéz, whose exploits won him both the admiration and scorn of Texans north and south of the Nueces. Sauvageau carefully skirts controversy by glossing over some events, but otherwise correctly relays historical truths. For some Tejano kids like myself, these stories were the first time we’d been introduced to a history of our own people.

The book’s most famous tales have been inscribed in the memory of every Chicano child: Particularly that of La Llorona, who drowns her children in the Rio Grande (specifically in a place called “El Rincón del Diablo” in Laredo, “The Devil’s Corner”) because she cannot give them a better life. This version of the legend adopts a very American moral obsession with material security and happiness, and is markedly different than the more moralistic rendition in Mexico that reflects aspects of genocide. Another famous story, “The Handsome Stranger,” recounts how a spoiled, selfish girl disobeys her mother’s forbiddance to attend a dance and finds herself pulled into the arms of Satan himself in a horrifying whirl of sulphur and brimstone. Animal stories are included alongside the ghost stories, reflective of the ancient cultures of indigenous people on the lower border.

In their truest form, the stories preserved memories of a landscape punctuated with doubt and fear; the violence suffered by Leonora Rodríguez de Ramos, the ‘Woman in Black’ seen traversing the intersection of Highway 281 and Farm-to-Market road 141 near Ben Bolt, is both an historical fact and a moral admonishment. Her hanging (which occurred before statehood) is a bone-chilling reminder of the scourge of domestic violence that can exist within Hispanic families.

I often think of that cool Friday night when I read my first volume of Stories That Must Not Die, cover to cover. I read the other three volumes within weeks and acquainted myself with their facts as if I were investigating a crime scene. At school, details were embellished among children who’d heard them; the stories mutated into the tallest of tales. Adults were consulted to verify their accuracy. All four volumes were perpetually checked out by fascinated schoolchildren all school year long .

Sauvageau’s work is hard to find nowadays though—the forty stories have never been collected into one single volume, and aside from a few cursory reprints of individual stories with illustrations by regional artists like Noé Vela and Jessica P. González, a complete Stories That Must Not Die remains elusive. Their presence in the minds of Tejanos as a source of literary inspiration is impressive: taken as a whole, they represent an important South Texan variety of Southern Gothic literature. Countless writers (like Donna native and writer David Bowles) have cited Sauvageau’s work as an important contributor to the literary heritage of Texas. I myself owe a great deal of debt as a writer to Stories That Must Not Die, both as an appreciator of Texas history, and as a writer of fiction centered on the border and the people who live there.

In the hearts and minds of many Tejanos, however, these books remain enshrined as a quintessential goth essential. Like all things from South Texas, these cherished volumes of folklore deserve greater attention—a rediscovery—especially now as Texas comes to terms with the violent and vengeful ghosts of its not-too-distant past. As an adult I can see the animosity that belied the supposedly harmonious world of the Rio Grande Valley. I can see ruthless Texas Rangers, heartless Mexican brigands, powerless farm laborers, and unscrupulous land barons. I can see the wide plains of the border spread out like a tablecloth—a battlefield, a contest of wills—between traditional and emerging identities, touched by steel and born in blood and fire, separated by a stinking river.

When I read Stories That Must Not Die, I am reminded of the perennial tragedy and heartbreak that marked the lives of people who lived here, how close they were to losing it all, how unfortunate were those who did. Their legacy is immortalized in these fables, legends, ghost stories. For nearly five decades these tales have lingered with anyone lucky enough to read them—and they will continue to for years to come. In fifty years’ time there may be more Stories That Must Not Die that will both haunt and inspire our children. It will be up to us to explain, in our own way, why those stories matter.

New Book: In Dust & Dusk by Esteban Rodriguez

“In Dust & Dusk by Esteban Rodríguez, the ordinary and the astounding enrich and enlarge each other. These poems shimmer with surprising phrasing and dazzling figurative language. We encounter ‘pews of dirt’ and the month of June becomes a ‘fugitive outrunning spring’s custody.’ There’s emotional range, too. Sorrow and wonder, and all their synonyms, darken and illuminate the poems. Rodríguez is a gifted poet who has written an impressive and memorable book.” —Eduardo Corral, author of Slow Lightning

Esteban Rodríguez is the author of Dusk & Dust (Hub City Press) and the micro-chapbook Soledad (Ghost City Press, 2019). His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Arts & Letters, The Gettysburg Review, New England Review, Puerto del Sol, Shenandoah, TriQuarterly, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. His reviews have appeared in PANK and American Book Review. He lives with his family and teaches in Austin, Texas.

60 Empowering Books Starring Latina Mighty Girls

wonderful compilation by Katherine at https://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=13062

 

“The Latina in me is an ember that blazes forever.” — Sonia Sotomayor, first United States Supreme Court Justice of Hispanic heritage

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month! Every year, from September 15 to October 15, Americans celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. To recognize this special month, we’ve put together a selection of our favorite books for children and teens starring Latina Mighty Girls!

In the first section of this blog post, we share books about real-life Latina role models throughout history, while in the second part, we feature fictional stories about Latina girls and women. For more reading recommendations for this month, you can also discover many bilingual Spanish/English books for young readers in our blog post, 25 Bilingual Spanish/English Picture Books Starring Mighty Girls. We hope these empowering titles will help all kids learn more about the diverse contributions and rich cultural traditions of Hispanic Mighty Girls!

For more books about diverse Mighty Girl from around the world, visit our extensive Multicultural Fiction Collection.

Books About Real-Life Latina Role Models

Sonia Sotomayor: A  Judge Grows in the Bronx / La juez que creció en el Bronx

Written by: Jonah Winter
Illustrated by: Edel Rodriguez
Recommended Age: 4 – 8

From a young age, Sonia Sotomayor wanted to be a lawyer… but that was a big dream for a young girl in the Bronx. In this bilingual picture book, kids follow her as her mother’s love, a desire to learn, and the willpower and bravery to defy all the naysayers, led Sotomayor to overcome obstacles like poverty, juvenile diabetes, and the death of her father in order to achieve a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States. Vibrant artwork makes Sotomayor’s childhood come alive, while a detailed author’s note provides plenty of additional information about her life and career.

Dreamers

Written by: Yuyi Morales
Illustrated by: Yuyi Morales
Recommended Age: 4 – 8

In this gorgeously illustrated picture book, based loosely on the author’s experience of moving from Xalapa, Mexico with her American husband and their infant son to San Francisco in 1994, a woman travels with her son to the United States. There, she discovers an oasis of hope: the public library. Book by book, she untangles the language of this strange new land, and learns to make a home within it, observing that at the library: “We learned to read,/ to speak,/ to write,/ and/ to make/ our voices heard.” Five-time Pura Belpré Award winner Yuyi Morales uses poetic language and elegant illustrations to capture both an immigration journey and the importance of libraries as a welcoming home for new members of a community.

I Am Sonia Sotomayor

Written by: Brad Meltzer
Illustrated by: Christopher Eliopoulos
Recommended Age: 4 – 8

Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, is the subject of the sixteenth picture book in the New York Times bestselling Ordinary People Change the World series. As a child, Sonia loved to read — especially Nancy Drew mysteries! When she saw Perry Mason on TV, she knew she wanted to be a lawyer. Many people thought Latina girls didn’t grow up to be lawyers, and she faced other obstacles, too, including a diabetes diagnosis at the age of 9. Fortunately, she had people who believed in her — people who taught her to believe in herself. And because of that, she reached the highest court in the nation. A lively, conversational tone and colorful illustrations draw kids into this book, and inspire them to see how they too can change the world.

The Storyteller’s Candle / La velita de los cuentos

Recommended Age: 5 – 8

Cousins Hildamar and Santiago are having trouble adjusting to their new home in New York City: the winter of 1929 is cold and harsh, not at all like Puerto Rico. Worst of all, Three King’s Day is approaching, and Hildamar is worried about how they can have this special holiday in their new country. Fortunately, a storyteller and librarian named Pura Belpré comes to their classroom and teaches them — and their classmates — about the value of celebrating many different holidays in their diverse community. This lovely introduction to the life of groundbreaking librarian Pura Belpre captures the lasting influence of this advocate for New York’s Spanish-speaking communities.

Turning Pages: My Life Story

Written by: Sonia Sotomayor
Illustrated by: Lulu Delacre
Recommended Age: 5 – 9

As a child, Sonia Sotomayor devoured books. For her, they were everything: a connection with her family in Puerto Rico, a guide when she was diagnosed with diabetes, and a consolation and escape from grief when her father died. Most importantly, they were the source of a dream: a future in which she could do anything. In her own words, Sotomayor tells young readers her life story, while also conveying a powerful message about the value of literacy and the never-ending possibility when you turn pages in books and in life. Sotomayor has also written a picture book about accepting disabilities and differences based on her childhood, Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You.

The Astronaut With A Song For The Stars: The Story of Dr. Ellen Ochoa

New!
Written by: Julia Finley Mosca
Illustrated by: Daniel Rieley
Recommended Age: 5 – 9

Ellen Ochoa dreamed of playing her flute professionally, but when she discovered engineering in college, she was immediately hooked. But people doubted whether she could succeed: a girl from an immigrant family wasn’t the right sort of person to become a scientist, they thought. She refused to believe them, and not only did she achieve her career in science, but she even became a NASA astronaut. And when she flew into outer space, her flute came with her, so she could play a song for the stars! This appealing biography from the Amazing Scientists series is a colorful tribute to this daring scientist and musician.

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré

Illustrated by: Paola Escobar
Recommended Age: 5 – 9

When Pura Belpré came to America in 1921, she brought with her the cuentos folklóricos of Puerto Rico. When she took a job at the New York Public Library as a bilingual assistant, she transformed library services by sharing diverse stories, championing bilingual literature, and publishing her tales so that she could “be like Johnny Appleseed [and] plant my story seeds across the land.” This lush and colorful book celebrates Belpré’s life and legacy, and encourages young storytellers to keep sharing their tales with the world. For a Spanish-language edition of this book, check out Sembrando historias: Pura Belpré: bibliotecaria y narradora de cuentos.

My Name Is Celia: The Life of Celia Cruz / Me llamo Celia: La vida de Celia Cruz

Written by: Monica Brown
Illustrated by: Rafael Lopez
Recommended Age: 5 and up

Celia grew up in Havana, Cuba; she loved to sing and she loved to dance. She built a career, entering every competition she could — even though she was barred from many because of her racial heritage. When Fidel Castro’s regime drove her into exile, she moved to Miami and New York City, where she kept singing and dancing… and where she and other musicians like her created a new form of music called salsa. This lyrical bilingual picture book dances through Cruz’s story with the same enthusiasm and joy that she displayed on stage.

When I Grow Up: Sonia Sotomayor

Written by: Annmarie Anderson
Illustrated by: Gerald Kelley
Recommended Age: 6 – 8

Before she was the first Hispanic woman justice to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor was a girl — maybe one just like you! In this book from the When I Grow Up early reader series, kids will learn about Sotomayor’s childhood, including the challenges she faced after being diagnosed with diabetes and after her father died — and then follow her as she perseveres to become the lawyer and judge she always dreamed of being! Engaging first-person text and appealing illustrations make her inspiring story come to life.

Dolores Huerta: A Hero to Migrant Workers

Written by: Sarah E. Warren
Illustrated by: Robert Casilla
Recommended Age: 6 – 9

Dolores Huerta was a dedicated teacher who found that too many of  her students were going without food or shoes. When she investigated, she discovered that their parents were migrant workers, picking grapes for unlivable wages — but when she confronted their bosses about their employees’ poverty, they ignored her. So Dolores encouraged the workers to strike, and rallied customers to boycott grapes, to force employers to treat their workers fairly. This inspiring picture book biography captures the determination and courage of this remarkable activist and role model. For another excellent picture book about Huerta, check out Side By Side / Lado a lado: The Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez / La historia de Dolores Huerta y Cesar Chavez for ages 4 to 8.

Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln

New!
Written by: Margarita Engle
Illustrated by: Rafael López
Recommended Age: 6 – 9

Young Teresa Carreño loved music, and the piano provided her comfort when she needed it — even when a revolution in her home of Venezuela forced her family to flee to America. She continued to play, and soon the Piano Girl became famous far and wide, bringing music and joy to people in the midst of the Civil War. Eventually, stories about the 10-year-old prodigy reached the White House, and one day, the young refugee played beautiful tunes for Abraham Lincoln and his family. Poetic language and colorful illustrations tell Carreño’s story, celebrating the solace that music brings in difficult times.

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation

Written by: Duncan Tonatiuh
Illustrated by: Duncan Tonatiuh
Recommended Age: 6 – 9

Almost 10 years before the historic civil rights decision Brown vs. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez and her parents helped end school segregation in California. In the 1940s, Sylvia Mendez, an American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican background — who spoke and wrote perfect English — was denied enrollment in an all-white Orange County grade school. Her parents took action by organizing the Hispanic community and filing a lawsuit in federal district court. Their success eventually brought an end to the era of segregated education in California.

That’s Not Fair: Emma Tenayuca’s Struggle for Justice / No es justo!: La lucha de Emma Tenayuca por la justicia

Illustrated by: Terry Ybanez
Recommended Age: 6 – 9

Emma Tenayuca grew up in a comfortable life in 1920s San Antonio. But she saw first-hand that others were not so fortunate and the degree of poverty experienced by those working for slave wages at the local pecan-shelling factories. As she grew up, she remained deeply aware of the injustice others suffered, and as a teenager, she spoke movingly on their behalf. When she was 21, the pecan shellers wages were cut even further — from six cents an hour to only three cents an hour — and she decided she had to do more: Tenayuca ended up leading a successful strike by 12,000 pecan shellers. This compelling English and Spanish telling of Tenayuca’s story will encourage kids to speak up when they see injustice in their own community.

Sonia Sotomayor: I’ll Be The Judge of That!

Written by: Kathleen Krull
Illustrated by: Angela Dominguez
Recommended Age: 7 – 10

Sometimes, rules are meant for breaking! Sonia Sotomayor grew up in a world where girls were supposed to dream of being housewives and where poor Hispanic girls in particular should aspire to menial jobs. Instead, she dreamed of a legal career, and after graduating at the top of her class in both high school and university, she eventually became the first Latina justice and third woman justice to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. This book from the Women Who Broke The Rules series is perfect for newly independent readers to learn more about Sotomayor’s story.

I Got This: To Gold and Beyond

Written by: Laurie Hernandez
Recommended Age: 8 – 12

Laurie Hernandez always wanted to fly, so when she was six years old, she took her first gymnastics class. It quickly became obvious that she was a natural, and in 2016, America thrilled to see her performances in both the team and individual beam competitions at the Rio Olympics. But you don’t get to be a 16-year-old Olympic medalist without some bumps along the way! In this poignant and funny memoir, Hernandez talks about Olympic dreams, family sacrifices, intense training, and the fear that she would lose it all when her progress stalled due to multiple injuries. It all paid off, though, when she got to display her artistry — and energy! — for the world in Rio. This fascinating memoir includes never-before-seen photos and beautifully captures Hernandez’s enthusiasm and joy in her sport.

Who Is Sonia Sotomayor?

Written by: Megan Stine
Recommended Age: 8 – 12

As a child in the Bronx, living with her immigrant parents, Sonia Sotomayor settled on a seemingly improbable dream: she wanted to be a judge. It seemed ridiculous, especially after she was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 9, at a time when the disease was more difficult to manage than it is today. But the determined girl learned how to give herself insulin injections, studied hard, and achieved her dream when she was appointed as a federal district judge in 1991. But she continued to work and to climb, and in 2009, President Barack Obama made her a Justice for the U.S. Supreme Court — the first Hispanic judge in the court’s history. This book from the popular Who Was…? biography series captures Sotomayor’s determination and pride in her heritage.

Who Was Selena?

Recommended Age: 8 – 12

Even as a girl, Selena Quintanilla was a singer. In her family’s band Selena y Los Dinos, she performed at fairs, weddings, quinceañeras, and more throughout their native Texas. Because she learned to sing in Spanish, she was hugely popular in the Latino community, and became the best-selling Latin artist of the 1990s — and introduced Tejano music to many Americans. While her life was cut short after she was killed by a stalker, her influence on music and fashion still resonate today. In this volume of the popular Who Was…? biography series, readers will be eager to learn more about this groundbreaking entertainer.

Sylvia and Aki

Written by: Winifred Conkling
Recommended Age: 9 – 12

Sylvia Mendez just wanted to attend her local Orange County school, but she was refused enrollment and directed to a Mexican school instead. Aki Munemitsu just wanted to be back in her own home, instead of being shipped to a Japanese internment camp. These two girls both had a story to tell about what it meant to be different in 1940s America, and they had an unexpected connection: the Mendez family rented the vacant Munemitsu farm, and the girls met and became friends after the war. Author Winifred Conkling used interviews with both Sylvia and Aki to write this historical fiction novel about the landmark education desegregation case Mendez v. Westerminster School District.

Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist

Written by: Sylvia Acevedo
Recommended Age: 9 – 12

As a child in a Mexican-American community, everyone expected that Sylvia Acevedo would grow up to marry and stay at home with her children — but Sylvia yearned for adventure. Then she joined the Brownies and her life was transformed. Through the Girl Scouts, she found peers who shared her love of science and role models that fostered her confidence and independence. Acevedo would become a rocket scientist for NASA — and today, she’s the CEO of the Girl Scouts, helping other girls follow their dreams. This inspiring memoir is a celebration of resilience and a testament to the transformative impact of the Girl Scouts on many girls’ lives.

The Distance Between Us: Young Readers Edition

Written by: Reyna Grande
Recommended Age: 10 – 14

Reyna’s parents have made the dangerous and illegal trip across the US-Mexican border in hopes of a better life for the whole family. Meanwhile, she and her siblings are forced to live with their strict grandmother — until plans have to change and Reyna has to make the journey, alone, with a long-absent father she barely knows on the other side. Then, she struggles with identity and a desperate desire to succeed, as well as dealing with poverty, domestic violence, and life as an undocumented immigrant. Based on Grande’s adult memoir of the same name, this story is gently funny and deeply touching, and captures a little-discussed element of immigration: the challenges facing children left behind.

The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor

Written by: Sonia Sotomayor
Recommended Age: 10 and up

Before she was a lawyer, a judge, and the first Hispanic person appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor was a girl in a Bronx housing project, struggling with juvenile diabetes, poverty, and family troubles. But when she found a big dream to pursue, nothing would stand in her way! In this middle-grade adaptation of her bestselling adult memoir, My Beloved World, Sotomayor tells her story in a relatable, appealing way, encouraging young readers to “dream big dreams” — and fight for what they know is right.

Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings

Written by: Margarita Engle
Illustrated by: Edel Rodriguez
Recommended Age: 13 and up

Margarita feels caught between two cultures and two countries: her mother’s homeland, Cuba, which she visits every summer, and the bustling, busy world of Los Angeles, where words and images provide better companionship than her classmates. Slowly, though, she comes to love her own country as much as her old one, if in a different way. As tensions rise in the late 1950s and early 1960s, being caught between these two homes is not easy, and when the Cuban Missile Crisis breaks out, Margarita is afraid for her Cuban family and confused by how two places she loves can hate one another so much. This evocative and heartfelt memoir in verse depicts how Engle’s sense of conflicting allegiances shaped her childhood — and her award-winning writing career.

In The Country We Love: My Family Divided

Written by: Diane Guerrero
Recommended Age: 15 and up

Today, Diane Guerrero is the star of hit shows like Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin, but before she got there, she was a fourteen year old girl who came home from school to discover that her parents had been deported while she was in class. Since she had been born in the US, Guerrero could stay — but to continue her education, she had to depend on the kindness of friends to take her in and help her build a life for herself. In this gripping and ultimately triumphant memoir, Guerrero offers a personal take on the struggles of the millions of undocumented immigrants and their citizen children — and casts a much-needed light on the fears that haunt the daily existence of families like hers. Guerrero has also adapted her story for middle-grade readers in My Family Divided: One Girl’s Journey of Home, Loss, and Hope.

Fictional Stories About Hispanic Mighty Girls

Kitchen Dance

Written by: Maurie J. Manning
Recommended Age: 3 – 6

When this little girl wakes up at night, she hears enticing noises from downstairs. Soon, she and her brother are sneaking downstairs, only to spot their mother and father singing and dancing as they clean up the kitchen: “¡Como te quiero! Oh, how I love you!” When the parents spot their children, they quickly sweep both kids up into a joyous, loving dance… one that slowly changes into a lullaby that rocks both children to sleep. This exuberant celebration of a loving family is also a terrific bedtime book.

Abuela

Written by: Arthur Dorros
Recommended Age: 3 – 7

Rosalba and her Abuela are always going to new places together, but one day, after feeding the birds at the park, Rosalba sits on the bus and dreams about what it would be like if she could fly. Soon, she’s soaring through the sky with Abuela floating beside her, observing the streets and buses, docks and buildings, and even her father’s office, all from high above. Each sight represents an important moment in Abuela’s life,  as she tells Rosalba the story of finding her home… the country where Rosalba is growing up. With its colorful illustrations and mix of Spanish and English, this book is a tribute to the love between a grandmother and granddaughter, a celebration of a diverse community, and a poignant immigrant tale of finding a new home.

A Chair For My Mother

Written by: Vera B. Williams
Illustrated by: Vera B. Williams
Recommended Age: 3 – 8

When a fire destroys all of their possessions, Rosa, her mother, and grandmother are able to scrape together most of what they need — but what they’re missing is a chair, a big comfortable chair for cuddles, reading stories, and to let her mother rest her feet after a long, hard day. Together, they start saving coins in a jar — Mama’s tips, Grandma’s grocery savings, even Rosa’s coins she earns doing odd jobs — so that they can buy the perfect chair of their dreams. This charming, sweet story, a Caldecott Honor winner, is full of warmth and love.

Margaret and Margarita / Margarita y Margaret

Written by: Lynn Reiser
Illustrated by: Lynn Reiser
Recommended Age: 3 – 8

Margaret speaks only English, and Margarita speaks only Spanish. When their mothers take them each to the park, both complain (in their respective languages) that there’s nobody to play with — until each spots the other. Their mothers assume that their lack of a common language will be a barrier, but as far as the girls are concerned, that just means they have to get a little more creative! By the time playtime is over, each girl knows a few words in the other’s language and their mothers are smiling at the realization that friendship can go beyond words. This clever bilingual picture book celebrates multilingual friendships.

Growing Up With Tamales / Los tamales de Ana

Written by: Gwendolyn Zepeda
Recommended Age: 3 – 8

Every year, Ana’s family makes tamales for Christmas… and every year, it seems like her older sister, Lidia, is so far ahead of her that she’ll never catch up. When Ana is six, she can mix the dough, but Lidia is old enough to spread it in the corn husks; and as the years go on, every time Ana is allowed to try a new step, Lidia is already learning the next one. Finally, though, when Ana is eighteen, she’s old enough to do it all — and old enough to be planning her own business, which will deliver her tamales to people around the world. And maybe she’ll even let Lidia work for her!

What Can You Do With A Rebozo?

Written by: Carmen Tafolla
Illustrated by: Amy Cordova
Recommended Age: 3 – 8

This little girl’s family has a rebozo, a traditional woven Mexican shawl. What can you do with a rebozo? Well, Mama can wrap it around herself to make her dress a little fancier, or fold it up and use it to carry her little brother. They keep you warm when you cuddle up with your grandmother, or keep your eyes covered when it’s time for a birthday piñata. They can be capes and tunnels and most importantly, the perfect accessory for a swirling dance! This celebration of culture and imagination is sure to delight young readers. There is also a bilingual version of this lively picture book.

Alma and How She Got Her Name

Written by: Juana Martinez-Neal
Illustrated by: Juana Martinez-Neal
Recommended Age: 4 – 8

Alma’s full name is far too long for someone so small: Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela “never fits”! So she asks her father: how did she get her name? It turns out that every part of her very long name is part of a story: Sofia, the grandmother who loved books and flowers; Esperanza, the great-grandmother who longed to travel; José, the grandfather who was an artist; and more. The only name she doesn’t hear is Alma — because, her father says, “You will make your own story.” This gentle, sweet story celebrates sharing family history and is sure to have kids asking about their own.

Mango, Abuela, and Me

Written by: Meg Medina
Illustrated by: Angela Dominguez
Recommended Age: 4 – 8

Mia’s abuela is moving in, leaving her sunny home surrounded by parrots and palm trees, and Mia is a mix of excited and uncertain… especially once she discovers that Abuela can’t speak or read much English. Even though grandmother and granddaughter work to teach Abuela English — and Mia Spanish — they still don’t have enough words in common to share stories, hopes, and dreams. Then Mia sees a beautiful parrot in the pet-shop window. Maybe a new friend can help her and Abuela communicate a little better. This charming story combines Spanish and English text beautifully, and kids will love the vibrant, colorful illustrations.

Carmela Full of Wishes

Written by: Matt de la Peña
Illustrated by: Christian Robinson
Recommended Age: 4 – 8

Today is Carmela’s birthday, and she’s finally old enough to join her big brother as he does errands — a treat for her, but a nuisance for her brother. On their way, Carmela finds a dandelion, but she has to decide on a perfect wish: should she wish for a candy machine? For her mother to sleep in one of the beautiful beds she makes at the hotel? For her father’s papers to be sorted out so he can finally come home? When the dandelion gets crushed before she picks a wish, Carmela is heartbroken… but her brother shows her a place where wishes do come true. This poignant picture book from the award-winning team behind Last Stop on Market Street explores loss, family, and the power of dreams.

Where Are You From?

New!
Illustrated by: Jaime Kim
Recommended Age: 4 – 8

When this little girl gets asked — over and over — where she is really from, she feels insecure about what her answer should be. For help, she turns to her loving Argentinian abuelo. His answer captures images of a beautiful land she’s never seen, of a family’s pride in a vibrant culture, but most importantly, of the love between people: “You’re from here, from my love and the love of all those before us…. You are from all of us.” This lyrical picture book that celebrates identity and individuality also provides a beautiful conversation starter for either home or classroom.

The Quiet Place

Written by: Sarah Stewart
Illustrated by: David Small
Recommended Age: 4 – 8

Isabel misses many things about her old home in Mexico, including her Aunt Lupita and the comfort of hearing Spanish spoken all around her. At the same time, there are wonderful new experiences in her American home, including a teacher with a wide, friendly smile and her very first snow storm! To help her adjust to all the changes, Papa and her brother Chavo use a big box to make Isabel a “quiet place,” where she can keep her books and toys and write letters to her aunt. In fact, the place Isabel feels most at home might just be in her quiet place. Set in the 1950s, this contemplative book captures the slow process of adjusting to a new country and fitting in with new friends.

A Gift From Abuela

Written by: Cecilia Ruiz
Illustrated by: Cecilia Ruiz
Recommended Age: 4 – 8

Abuela adores Niña, and delights in spending time with her, especially when they make papel picado (paper-cutout banners) together or sit in the park eating pan dulce. She wants to give Niña an extra special treat, so she starts saving what money she can put together, a few pesos at a time. But as Niña gets older, it’s harder for them to spend time together, and when a newly issued currency makes Abuela’s savings worthless, she thinks her dream has been dashed. Fortunately, a surprise visit from Niña shows that, even when life gets in the way, the love between a grandmother and granddaughter is the sweetest gift of all.

Sofia Valdez, Future Prez

New!
Written by: Andrea Beaty
Illustrated by: David Roberts
Recommended Age: 4 – 9

Sofia loves walking to school with her Abuelo, but when Abuelo hurts his ankle at the local landfill, Sofia has to walk alone. She spends the walk thinking about what she could do about the dangerous trash heap, and she concludes that it’s time for the town to turn it into a park. When she arrives at City Hall, plans in hand, the clerk turns her away — a kid can’t build a park, after all. Sofia thinks otherwise, and before long, she discovers the power of community organizing… and perhaps a future career in politics! This empowering book by the creators of Rosie Revere, Engineer and Ada Twist, Scientist stars a determined girl who knows that the key to making dreams reality can be political action.

Sofia Martinez: My Family Adventure

Written by: Jacqueline Jules
Illustrated by: Kim Smith
Recommended Age: 5 – 7

7-year-old Sofia Martinez is used to fighting for attention in her big family — but fortunately, she always knows they will be there when she really needs them. In this story, she worries about creating a look for class picture day that ensures no one can mistake her for her sisters; attempts to make a piñata for her grandmother’s birthday; and has to chase down a runaway class pet! Her outgoing personality and confidence often result in one part success, one part trouble — but no matter what, Sofia’s fiery passion for everything she does makes every day an adventure. This first book in a series includes common Spanish words and phrases. For more of Sofia’s escapades, check out the second book, The Marigold Mess.

Maya’s Blanket / La Manta de Maya

Written by: Monica Brown
Illustrated by: David Diaz
Recommended Age: 5 – 8

When Maya was very, very little, Grandma stitched her a blanket with her own two hands. But as Maya grows, the blanket gets frayed. Fortunately, Grandma is able to rework it each time: into a shirt, a shawl, a scarf, a hair ribbon, and finally, a bookmark. But what will Maya do when she loses her bookmark and the last precious scrap of her blanket is gone? Well… why not write a book about her special blanket — one that preserves its memory and shares it with lots of other little boys and girls — including Maya’s own daughter! Inspired by the traditional Yiddish folk song Hob Ikh Mir a Mantl (I Had a Little Coat), this sweet story recognizes the power of creativity and family love.

I Love Saturdays y domingos

Written by: Alma Flor Ada
Illustrated by: Elivia Savadier
Recommended Age: 5 – 8

Weekends are a very special time for this little girl! On Saturdays, she visits Grandma and Grandpa, her European-American family, and on Sundays — los domingos — she visits Abuelito y Abuelita, her Mexican-American grandparents. Each pair of grandparents has their special rituals and treats, and they are different in many ways, but they are the same in one very important respect: they adore their granddaughter and the rest of her loving family. Instead of presenting a family with dual cultures as competing, this family complements and celebrates one another, creating a unique and special atmosphere.

Mamá The Alien / Mamá la Extraterrestre

Written by: Rene Colato Lainez
Illustrated by: Laura Lacamara
Recommended Age: 5 – 8

When Mamá’s purse spills one day, Sofia sees a card that describes her mother as a Resident Alien. An alien?! But Mamá looks like a human mother! Sofia is still trying to figure out this mystery when she stumbles upon her mother one night looking like an actual alien… but it turn out that Mamá is just doing a beauty treatment, getting ready for a special day: her citizenship ceremony. That’s when Sofia learns that, in English, alien can also mean someone born in a different country. How funny to think that her Mamá really is an alien! This lighthearted book celebrates the milestones of immigration and the importance of family — no matter where that family comes from.

Doña Flor: A Tall Tale About A Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart

Written by: Pat Mora
Illustrated by: Raul Colon
Recommended Age: 4 – 8

In a tiny village in the American Southwest, Doña Flor is a beloved neighbor: the giant woman lets children use her flowers as trumpets and her leftover tortillas as rafts! She also loves to read, and often gathers the children around for a story. When a terrible noise like a bellowing animal scares the villagers, Doña Flor is determined to protect her friends — so with the help of her animal companions, she sets off to solve the mystery of the terrifying sound. This original tall tale, full of beautiful watercolor illustrations, ends with a surprise that will get kids giggling!

I Pledge Allegiance

Illustrated by: Patrice Barton
Recommended Age: 4 – 8

Libby’s Great Aunt Lobo has lived in America for years, but now she’s taking a big step and becoming a citizen! She has passed her citizenship test; now all that remains is the ceremony, where she’ll say the Pledge of Allegiance. Libby’s class has also been practicing the Pledge — and the same day that Lobo swears her oath, Libby will be leading the Pledge at school. Together, Libby and Lobo practice, talking about the historical and personal meaning of each line, until each of them gets to say it with hand on heart. This sweet story will give kids new perspective on what it means to say the pledge, as well as celebrating this special relationship between a niece and aunt.

In My Family / En mi familia

Written by: Carmen Lomas Garza
Recommended Age: 5 – 8

Author Carmen Lomas Garza recounts her fondest childhood memories growing up in a Mexican-American family in Texas. She remembers special holidays and family dinners; music and dancing at a local restaurant; and even seemingly simple moments like a visit to her grandmother’s house. Each scene is illustrated in vivid color and accompanied by a text description of the event in both English and Spanish. Gentle and welcoming, this book captures the extraordinary and everyday moments that make up the stories of a cherished family.

The Ghosts of Luckless Gulch

Written by: Anne Isaacs
Illustrated by: Dan Santat
Recommended Age: 5 – 10

Estrella is faster than fast — she leaves trails of fire in the air when she runs! She shares her days in the wilds of California with her unusual (and not particularly tame) pets: Kickle Snifter, a lamb as strong as an elephant; Sidehill Wowser, a horse-like creature with downhill legs that are longer than his uphill ones; and Comet, a Rubberado puppy. But when the ghosts of greedy gold miners steal her pets, Estrella isn’t going to take it sitting down! This tall tale full of humor and slapstick will have kids guessing how the clever Estrella is going to deal with those troublesome ghosts.

My Name Is Maria Isabel

Written by: Alma Flor Ada
Illustrated by: K. Dyble Thompson
Recommended Age: 7 – 10

Maria’s name is long and important — Maria Isabel Salazar Lopez, from both her grandmothers, her grandfather, and her father. But when she arrives in her new class after moving from Puerto Rico, her teacher declares that there are too many Marias, so she’ll be called Mary. How can Maria explain to her teacher that her special name is a reminder of where she came from? Fortunately, when the class is assigned a paper titled “My Greatest Wish,” Maria finally finds the words to tell everyone how special her name is — and why she will always be Maria Isabel. Spanish-speaking Mighty Girl fans can read the Spanish-language version of the book, Me llamo Maria Isabel.

Stef Soto, Taco Queen

Written by: Jennifer Torres
Recommended Age: 8 – 11

All Stef wants is to fit in, and to have a little bit of independence from her overprotective parents — especially if it means she can ride a school bus instead of getting picked up by Tia Perla, her family’s taco truck. She’s tired of being called “Taco Queen” and she dreams of being able to attend the Vivian Vega concert like her (former) friend Julia. But when her family’s livelihood is threatened, Stef surprises herself by becoming Tia Perla’s biggest advocate. In the end, Stef discovers her own identity: one that takes pride in her newfound love of art, her ability to help her community, and, yes, even in her parents and Tia Perla itself. Heartfelt and funny, with a narrator you’ll root for, this is a charming story celebrating family, friends, and delicious food.

Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble

Written by: Anna Meriano
Illustrated by: Mirelle Ortega
Recommended Age: 8 – 12

Leonora’s mother, aunt, and older sisters run the best bakery in Rose Hill, Texas, and Leonora wants to help prepare for Dia de los Muertos — but once again, they tell her she’s too young. One day, when Leo sneaks down to the bakery, she learns why: they are all brujas, witches of Mexican ancestry, and they bake a little delicious magic into every bite! Leo’s sure she’s old enough to learn magic too, so when her best friend has a problem, she decides to dig into the family recipe book. But Leo doesn’t read Spanish, so deciphering the recipes isn’t easy… and when things go awry, Leo learns that her family will support her but she has to fix her own mistakes! This charming story effortlessly weaves together Mexican, Texan, and American cultures and adds a dash of mystery and magic to delightful effect. Leonora and her family return in the sequel, A Sprinkle of Spirits.

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer

Written by: Kelly Jones
Illustrated by: Katie Kath
Recommended Age: 8 – 12

Sophie Brown feels totally out of place when her parents move her from big-city LA to the farm they’ve inherited from a great-uncle, especially when it becomes obvious that the townsfolk assume she and her Latino family are migrant workers rather than landowners. But the farm gets a little more interesting when Sophie discovers that one of the chickens can move things with her mind! Soon, more of her great-uncle’s chickens — with even more unusual powers — are coming home to roost. And when a local farmer rival tries to steal the chickens, Sophie will have to find a way to keep her very special chickens safe. Told in a combinations of letters, quizzes, to-do lists, and sections of a correspondence course on chicken care, this fun and quirky story is sure to be a favorite.

Me, Frida, and the Secret of the Peacock Ring

Written by: Angela Cervantes
Recommended Age: 9 – 12

Paloma is visiting Mexico City for the first time; she’s hoping that her deceased father’s hometown will help her remember at least a few things about it. There, she meets siblings Lizzie and Gael, who invite her to join them on a search for the peacock ring, which once belonged to beloved artist Frida Kahlo. But can Paloma help them find the ring — and are the siblings really hoping to find it so that all of Mexico can enjoy it? This middle-grade mystery cleverly incorporates an intriguing introduction to Kahlo’s life, along with an atmospheric exploration of her Mexican home.

The First Rule of Punk

Written by: Celia C. Pérez
Illustrated by: Celia C. Pérez
Recommended Age: 9 – 12

Twelve-year-old Malú is struggling with the aftermath of her parents’ divorce: she misses her laid-back, artsy, white father, and feels pressured by her academic mother, who she calls “SuperMexican.” And on the first day at her new school, Chuck Taylor-wearing, punk-loving Malú violates the school dress code and angers the school’s queen bee, who calls her a “coconut”: brown on the outside, white on the inside. But when Malú gets a band started with some fellow misfits, she’ll do anything to keep it together — even if it means standing up to her mother, the school administration, and the world! This exploration of friendship, identity, and the joy of rocking out to your own beat is sure to inspire your Mighty Girl to stand up for what she believes in!

Tortilla Sun

Written by: Jennifer Cervantes
Recommended Age: 9 – 12

Twelve-year-old Izzy is helping unpack after yet another move when she discovers a baseball marked with the words: “Because… magic.” Her curiosity is piqued, but she knows her mother won’t satisfy it — her mother never answers any questions about her father, who died before she was born. But when her mother declares that she’s finishing her studies in Costa Rica that summer — and that Izzy will be saying with her Nana in New Mexico — perhaps Izzy has a chance to learn more. Nana and her community welcome Izzy with open arms, and soon she’s making tortillas, watching her grandmother’s work as a curandera providing folk remedies, and even uncovering a few of those family mysteries she’s always wanted to know. This gentle story full of appealing characters feels warm, cozy, and eminently satisfying.

The Other Half of Happy

New!
Written by: Rebecca Balcárcel
Recommended Age: 9 – 12

Half Guatemalan, half American Quijana never really minded feeling more Anglo than Latinx until her Guatemalan cousins moved to town. Suddenly, her father is embarrassed that she doesn’t speak Spanish or know much about her Guatemalan heritage. Quijana, on the other hand, is busy worrying about her Grandma, who’s going through cancer treatment in Florida. When her parents announce the whole family will be traveling to Guatemala, Quijana plots to go to Florida instead — but maybe she needs this trip in order to figure out how all the pieces of her identity fit together. Lyrical and heartfelt, this poetic debut novel will speak to anyone who has felt like they live between the “categories” of our world.

Merci Suárez Changes Gears

Written by: Meg Medina
Recommended Age: 9 – 12

Merci is full of confidence and drive, but sixth grade will test even her. As a scholarship student at her Florida private school, she’s always felt different from her peers, and this year, her required community service makes Merci the target of the school queen bee’s jealousy. Meanwhile, her grandfather Lolo has been acting strangely, from forgetting things to getting angry over nothing, and no one will tell her what’s going on. Fortunately, her take-charge personality helps her overcome all the bumps in the road! This Newbery Medal-winning coming-of-age tale stays light, while still tackling tough issues facing many middle-grade kids.

Dancing Home

Recommended Age: 9 – 12

Although she was born there, Margie doesn’t consider herself Mexican, and she’s devoted years of work to ensuring her classmates don’t see her that way, either. Then her cousin Lupe moves from Mexico, hoping to see her father, who went north to find work — and to Margie’s horror, Lupe is assigned to her class. Now Lupe’s frilly clothes and struggles with English are challenging Margie’s carefully crafted identity, especially when she’s told to translate the teacher’s lessons despite not speaking much Spanish. Slowly, though, both Lupe and Margie fall into step with one another, and together they discover how to create new selves that acknowledge both their Mexican heritage and their American home. This beautiful novel, which was also published in a Spanish edition, Nacer bailando, tackles important issues about bullying, cultural identity, and family.

Ghosts

Written by: Raina Telgemeier
Illustrated by: Raina Telgemeier
Recommended Age: 9 – 13

Catrina’s family is moving to Bahia de la Luna, where the coastal air will help Maya’s cystic fibrosis symptoms. Cat misses her friends and resents being forced to move, but she loves her sister and is terrified of Maya getting sick. So when their neighbor tells them that Bahia de la Luna is home to ghosts — spirits of ancestors who watch over them — Cat wants nothing to do with them… and is horrified to discover that Maya seems fascinated by the ghosts. As the Day of the Dead approaches, and Cat meets the ghosts face to face, she’ll learn more about the Mexican side of her heritage — and learn to set her fears aside, for both Maya’s sake and her own. This original graphic novel by the author / illustrator of best-selling graphic novels SmileSisters, and Drama is sure to delight your Raina Telgemeier fan!

Becoming Naomi León

Written by: Pam Munoz Ryan
Recommended Age: 9 – 13

It’s hard going through school as Naomi Soledad León Outlaw — between her long name and the hand-made clothes, she’s never been one of the popular kids. But her grandmother is a loving guardian for her and her brother, whose physical deformities make him stand out, and tries her best to teach them both about their Mexican heritage. When Naomi’s mother finally shows back up after seven years, with a scary boyfriend in tow, it soon becomes obvious that her motivations are more about profit and convenience than about reconnecting with her children. Fortunately, Gram and their Mexican neighbors work together so that Naomi can finally have the security she desperately needs. Touching and inspiring, this book asks important questions about what it really means to be family.

Lucky Broken Girl

Written by: Ruth Behar
Recommended Age: 10 – 13

Ruthie is just beginning to regain some confidence after immigrating from Castro’s Cuba to New York City: she’s slowly learning English, and she’s earned her place as the neighborhood’s hopscotch queen. Then the unthinkable happens: a car accident leaves her in a body cast, restricted to bed for a year. Ruthie’s world has shrunk, but the time gives her the opportunity to consider many things, from her feelings about the boys whose car hit her to the kindness of those around her to her own budding joy in writing and art. Inspired by her real-life experience in the 1960s — both immigrating and suffering injuries that required a long recovery — this book is inspiring, vulnerable, and real.

Return to Sender

Written by: Julia Alvarez
Recommended Age: 10 and up

Tyler’s father was injured in a tractor accident, and they’re facing foreclosure on their Vermont family farm if they can’t get the harvest in. His parents hire a family of migrant workers, but Tyler finds himself wondering if hiring undocumented workers is the right decision. Meanwhile Mari, the family’s oldest daughter, challenges his preconceptions with her combination of pride in her Mexican heritage and connection to her American life. As Tyler and Mari become friends, she tells him more about her family’s struggles: the poverty they left behind, their fear being deported, and her desperate desire to know if her missing mother is safe. Told in alternating chapters of Tyler’s third-person perspective and Mari’s diary entries and unsent letters to Mami, this novel tackles the complexity of the issues around undocumented migrant workers in a way that’s easily understandable for tweens and teens.

The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano

Written by: Sonia Manzano
Recommended Age: 12 and up

Evelyn — who changed her name from Rosa to sound more “mainstream” — starts developing a new view on her heritage when her sassy Abuela, newly arrived from Puerto Rico, helps her see the many problems with their Spanish Harlem neighborhood. When Puerto Rican activist group the Young Lords start protesting, and Abuela steps in to take charge, Evelyn finds herself thrust into the action… and discovers that she feels like she belongs there. Sonia Manzano, who grew up to play Maria on Sesame Street, based this novel on real events from her childhood in El Barrio, and includes an appendix with reports from the New York Times about the real-life protests. A powerful story of identity and family drama, this novel is sure to generate discussion.

Under the Mesquite

Recommended Age: 12 and up

Lupita’s Mami has been diagnosed with cancer, and suddenly worries about high school, her role in a play, and her friends seem unimportant. While her father takes Mami to a clinic out of town, Lupita has to care for her younger siblings — and struggles to keep the family going. Her only refuge is the shadow of a mesquite tree, where she can retreat to write. In the midst of the chaos and fears about Mami’s health, though, Lupita might discover her voice. This evocative novel in verse captures the power of the written word — whatever the language — as well as the importance of family when people are in crisis.

The Tequila Worm

Written by: Viola Canales
Recommended Age: 12 and up

Sofia comes from a family of storytellers in a small Texas town. Each chapter in this book are Sofia’s stories of growing up in the barrio, full of the mystery and magic of family traditions. Until finally she reaches a turning point: a scholarship to an elite boarding school that will take her far from home. But as she faces this new experience, she realizes how much these traditions matter to her — and how to combine her childhood dreams of being a comadre with the skills she’s learned in her new world. This warm novel, full of details about Mexican-American traditions, is sure to delight young adult readers searching for their own place in the world.

Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass

Written by: Meg Medina
Recommended Age: 13 and up

One day, a girl Piddy Sanchez barely knows tell her that Yaqui Delgado, head of a gang of girls at school, hates her. Piddy doesn’t even know who Yaqui is, but it turns out that Yaqui thinks that Piddy isn’t “Latin enough” — white skin, good grades, and no accent — which makes her “stuck-up attitude” even worse in Yaqui’s eyes. Piddy tries to focus on finding the father she’s never met, and balancing schoolwork and a weekend job, but as the harassment ramps up, Piddy starts to wonder if she can survive without running away or giving up who she is. The sense of claustrophobia and fear in this title, and the lack of easy solutions despite many caring adults, makes this a realistic and emotional look at bullying, class conflict, and ethnic identity.

The Poet X

Written by: Elizabeth Acevedo
Recommended Age: 14 and up

15-year-old Xiomara Batista feels voiceless in her largely Dominican community in Harlem: since she developed curves, she’s relied on her fierce exterior and a willingness to throw a punch to keep herself safe. But she pours all of her frustration and insecurity — as well as her conflicts with her strict, religious mother — onto the pages of a notebook. When Xiomara is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, however, she’s faced with a choice: leave her poems unspoken or raise her voice, no matter what people think. This powerful novel in verse, winner of the 2018 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, offers a thoughtful look at identity, family, and the power of words through the eyes of a teen girl.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

Written by: Erika L. Sánchez
Recommended Age: 14 and up

In Julia’s family, Olga was the dutiful daughter who planned to stay home with her Mexican parents rather than going away to college. That left Julia free to fulfill her own dreams… until Olga was killed in an accident. Now, Julia is the one who has to hold the family together, and her mother is too busy lamenting Julia’s failings to realize Julia’s grieving too. Then Julia discovers that Olga had her own secrets, and becomes determined to learn more about the sister she now wishes she had known better. This gritty story about a girl facing grief, poverty, and the weight of family expectations is both poignant and funny in turns.

With The Fire On High

New!
Written by: Elizabeth Acevedo
Recommended Age: 14 and up

When Emoni got pregnant in her freshman year of high school, she stopped thinking about her future to focus on her daughter. Now a senior, she balances motherhood (and joint custody with her ex-boyfriend), school, work, and caring for her abuela. Nevertheless, she can’t help but imagine life as a chef: her “magical hands” let people who eat her food sample deep memories. But when a high school cooking elective opens up the opportunity for a week-long apprenticeship in Spain — and a possible relationship with Malachi, a new student — Emoni will realize that she is strong enough to pursue dreams that used to feel impossible. Elizabeth Alcevedo, author of the National Book Award winning The Poet X, celebrates perseverance, passion, and the power of sharing food together in this gripping novel.

The House On Mango Street

Written by: Sandra Cisneros
Recommended Age: 14 and up

Esperanza Cordero is a Latina girl coming of age in a world that’s full of joy and laughter, but also oppression and struggle. In a series of vignettes, many in free verse, she decides that the house on Mango Street is only temporary, a place she must stay until she can find a better life, away from the poor neighborhood where she grew up. At the same time, she is determined not to forget those who she leaves behind, but to come back and help lift them out of poverty as well. Full of clever, funny observations and insightful views of gender roles and culture, this modern classic is perfect for thoughtful teen readers.

Price: $9.59

No ordinary saint, St. Sucia is a rebel zine for Latinx feminists

Check out this article by Kaitlin Thomas on PRI.org.
A woman holds open a magazine with an illustration of an astronaut and cat on the cover. The woman's eyes are visible above the pages.

Isabel Ann Castro and Natasha I. Hernandez created the St. Sucia zine to make space for Latinx individuals looking for gender-challenging, border-crossing and edgy representation.

St. Sucia is not your typical saint. From immigration and work-life balance to dating and sex, nothing is too taboo for this rebel to tackle.

But St. Sucia doesn’t live in a chapel or a cathedral. She is the creation of San Antonio-based Latinx artist and illustrator Isabel Ann Castro.

“I told them that they can’t be asking the Virgin or Jesus Christ to help them out with their cochina problems. They needed a saint to understand. A saint that was a ‘dirty girl’ too.”

Isabel Ann Castro, artist

“I created St. Sucia in college as a joke amongst my friends [who] would clutch the saints on their necklaces hoping their date would go well, they’d pass a test they didn’t feel ready for, their period would come,” Castro explains via email. “I told them that they can’t be asking the Virgin or Jesus Christ to help them out with their cochina problems. They needed a saint to understand. A saint that was a ‘dirty girl’ too.”

Castro set out to fill a void she felt when it comes to navigating life as a young Latinx woman, along with writer Natasha I. Hernandez.

And so, St. Sucia, patron of the unapologetic modern Latina, was born, taking shape in 2014 as a zine in which voices and stories that are often lost in mainstream media — Afro-Latinas, Central Americans, LGBTQ and feminists — are featured.

A painting of two women kissing

Zines have maintained popularity, particularly among Latinx communities in the US. Because zines most often have circulations of not more than a couple hundred or thousand copies, their collectability and overall lore can become huge. Zines have also been a hallmark of many modern movements relating to resistance such as Black Lives Matter, Me Too and Undocumented and Unafraid.

Despite her name, St. Sucia goes rouge from the Catholic religious tradition of turning to a particular saint for comfort in times of need. From a cheeky quiz asking “What Lotería Lady Are You?” to the countdown list “10 Things I Learned About Relationships Via Selena Lyrics” (both found in Issue I: La Primera), the zine strikes a balance between humor, outreach and camaraderie and is infused with Latinx culture.

An image of a story text

St. Sucia is a figure who “loves you without judgment for who you are,” say Castro and Hernandez via email. “She won’t sweep anything under the rug. She doesn’t care what people will say.”

Around 30 submissions, mostly solicited from friends around San Antonio, were considered for the first issue in 2014. But by the second, published in the spring of 2015, Castro and Hernandez were sifting through three times as many. Soon, fans from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Chicago to Boston were taking note of St. Sucia. Online orders increased and so did issue requests from independent bookstores.

Castro and Hernandez decided that sex positivity would be the focus of the first issue, while many dozens of submissions focused on difficult and intimate topics — including reproductive rights,immigration, and family stories — set the tone for each of the 13 subsequent volumes.

The decision about what to include in each issue has been driven by their audience. Castro and Hernadez looked to recurring themes among submissions and the reader feedback via letters and social media to guide them.

“Everything that our zine became is because we listened to what is important to our community,” Hernandez says.

Castro continues, “We’d read their work, love it, and get to write back that they were going to be published. It was a rad feeling to help change someone[s] narrative and say ‘your voice matters.’”

In June 2019, St. Sucia won a San Antonio Public Library ELLA Award for the work that they’ve done to promote San Antonio’s Latinx community and education initiatives they’ve run in conjunction with San Antonio library resources.

“We are very proud to be in libraries and archives to add a little more to the very short list of Latinas in those institutional places,” says Hernandez.

Barbie Hurtado is a reader turned contributor. She says St. Sucia has been a game-changer in fostering her own sense of Latinx pride.

“St. Sucia was meaningful because it gave us a platform to talk about all the things that go unsaid, that Latinx families don’t talk about that are taboo like sexuality, menstruation, body love, enjoying and having sex, etc.,” Hurtado explains. “St. Sucia was unique because it was unapologetically visible.”

St. Sucia herself takes no physical form, a creative decision that Castro and Hernandez stand by.

“There is no specific way to be Latina/x,” Castro says. “She shifts in the minds of readers to what they want and need from a saint.”

An illustration of a female digging through a bag

The zine ended publication in early 2019, but Castro and Hernandez are still hard at work. They are organizers of the San Antonio Zine Fest and participated in the Texas Latino Comic Con this July. Next, they have plans to begin writing for a new web series that is “sex positive and just as honest in the same ways that the [St. Sucia] zine was,” Castro says.

She is also working on a new zine project, “Está Bueno Archives,” that exposes aspects of San Antonio’s gentrification.

“Our city is facing sweeping, violent gentrification,” Castro says. “In my fear of my life being whitewashed and sold off, I’ve been trying to document as much as possible.”

St. Sucia and her legacy has evolved to more than just a zine. Over the 14 issues and nearly five years Castro and Hernandez say they have been able to “elevate voices of Latinas.”

“I would like for her [Saint Sucia] to live on as the idea of a moment when Latinas saw themselves as radical, as powerful, as seen in our pages,” Hernandez says.

The New Generation of Latinx Literature Will Have Room for Everyone

Check out this article by Ruby Mora for ElectricLiterature.com

 

I grew up with a vigorous love for reading and storytelling. There was (and still is) a sense of ethereal magic that occurs when reading about other people, real or fiction, other worlds, other perspectives. At the time, I wasn’t looking to books for people who looked like me; I was looking for something outside myself. Eventually, though, I wanted to see myself reflected in the works I read—or at least know that it was possible, that other people reading fiction for other perspectives might find a perspective that looked a little like mine. What I found was that it was possible, but very rare. The great Sandra Cisneros and Julia Alvarez were some of the very few Latina authors that had pivotal works with Latinx characters heavily represented.

Over the last few years, Latinx representation in literature has slowly but surely increased. Among these new voices is Kali Fajardo-Anstine, whose debut short story collection Sabrina & Corinawas published this year. Centered around multiple Latinas with indigenous ancestry and the trials they face, while also having their lives interwoven through their shared home of Denver Colorado, Sabrina & Corina features complex Latina characters that fall outside of the stereotypes that are normally attached to this community in various media. This has been something that felt so out of reach for a long time in my eyes, but reading the stories of these women, women whose cultures and struggles are similar to mine, has given me a feeling of fullness I longed for since realizing the need for representation of the community I’m a part of in the stories I read. Latinx representation in literature has been increasing, but now it’s time for us to ask for something more than representation. It’s not enough for Latinx characters to exist, instead of not existing; we’re ready for a range of Latinx characters as varied and vital as the white characters we’ve been reading for so long. With its cast of challenging and admirable Latinas, Sabrina & Corina has the potential to be the start of a new generation of Latinx literature.

This is not to diminish the work of iconic Latina authors like Cisneros and Alvarez. In previous decades, transcendent and remarkable works, including In the Time of the Butterflies, The House on Mango Street, Esperanza Rising, and Like Water for Chocolate, gave us deep insight into Latina characters from various generations. The problem has always been one of numbers. There have always been very few Latina authors with work in mainstream literature, compared to the number of white authors who have their narratives widely and continuously available.

I don’t want to have to only expect these stories one in a while.

The women in Sabrina & Corina are complex and imperfect, three-dimensional in a way Latina characters don’t always get to be (especially when written by white authors). In a recent interview, Fajardo-Anstine stated that she “was trying to portray a community that, often times, is invisible in the greater Latinx narrative. Southern Colorado, Northern New Mexico, mixed Latinx communities here in Denver—I was trying to create characters that were very individualistic, very human, in a way that I haven’t seen rendered before.” Her characters deal with traumas and intense situations, some of which are unique to the community and indigenous ancestry they come from, but many more of which face not only the broader Latinx community but humans everywhere: racism, classism, general and intergenerational trauma, and gentrification, among others. Fajardo-Anstine goes past the surface of her characters and digs deeper, pulling all the complexities, aches, doubts, and struggles, both internal and external, to the forefront. There’s no sense of hindrance in the way that Fajardo-Anstine writes so relentlessly raw, especially through the voices of the Latinas she’s manifested. These were stories that I had to sit with after finishing each one, ruminating on each of their unique and detailed environments and narratives.

Even though I was absolutely overjoyed that Sabrina & Corina exists just as it is, I couldn’t help but wonder how the literary world could better itself if Latinx narratives like Fajardo-Anstine’s became commonplace. In glimpsing into these lives, I gained a sense of comfort, a camaraderie between myself and the women of many generations in the book, especially knowing that we share similar experiences with many of the hardships faced by our community. To feel these things, especially in a time where we are seen as less than, is phenomenal, but I don’t want to have to only expect these stories one in a while.

In literature that I’ve read prior, there weren’t many characters like me that I could relate to and identify with in regards to their described viewpoint as a Latina. The Latinas in Sabrina & Corina display the layers of experience, both good and bad, that come with being a Latina in an ever-changing society. Social pressures, machismo, colorism within our own community; there was a sense of comfort in knowing that I was reading about Latinas that I could connect with if they existed in real life, that I could share an unspoken mutual understanding with them. This is a feeling that white readers get all the time, so often that they probably don’t even notice. I, and undoubtedly many other Latinas, deserve to experience it more often. Our voices are often silenced and disregarded as unimportant in mainstream literature. When we do get narratives in literature and in U.S. media, especially, they end up warped into unrealistic, exaggerated versions of us. Having our narratives be written by us and for us allows us to reclaim and strengthen our voices, while also emphasizing to the public that we aren’t the sidekicks, the gang bangers, or the maids.

In the next generation of Latinx literature, Latinas won’t need to search for the stories we can connect with.

Other Latina authors have preceded Fajardo-Anstine into the mainstream, including Elizabeth Acevedo (The Poet X), Lilliam Rivera (The Education of Margot Sanchez), Erika L. Sanchez (I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter), and Ingrid Rojas Contreras (Fruit of the Drunken Tree). It’s apparent that what’s been happening in Latinx literature lately can easily be called a cultural renaissance. I can already tell, or at least truly hope, that this next generation of Latinx literature will be vast, full of a wide variety of voices within our community. There will be a multitude of voices from so many diasporas, a constant stream of thoughts, discoveries and rediscoveries of the depths of our cultures, contemplations on what it means to be Latina and what those who came before us suffered through in order to have us exist today. In the next generation of Latinx literature, Latinas won’t need to search for the stories we can, as a community, connect with.

Signs of a new era have been showing through, filled with narratives that allow Latinas to be even more proud of our cultures and roots, where we came from and what lies ahead. Fajardo-Anstine has created multidimensional Latinas who have shared paths with those who came before, who have shared griefs and devastating cycles of abuse, who haven’t had the ability to voice their stories. She and other new Latina authors are reclaiming these real narratives we’ve been used to going without during our experiences reading mainstream literature. I only hope that other Latinas who are yearning to have their writing out in the world see that there is still a demand for the stories they are holding on to, their potential contribution to this exciting moment and movement that’s happening. I hope for this influx of literature written by us to inspire more undiscovered and upcoming Latina authors to grow and join this reclamation of our narratives and true depiction of ourselves, imperfections and all. It is more than possible to have our narratives be easily and readily accessible in mainstream literature, and this renaissance we’re in the middle of is only the beginning of what’s to come. Let it continue to thrive further, for the sake of the generations currently here and the ones yet to arrive.

JENNIFER A. JONES, The Browning of the New South

Review by Jaime Sanchez Jr. for New Books. Check out the audio clip as well…

 

The dawn of the new millennium bore witness to an unprecedented transformation of the population in the Southeastern United States as evidenced by Dr. Jennifer A. Jones in her new book The Browning of the New South (University of Chicago Press, 2019). Jones, an Assistant Professor of Sociology as well as Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, examines the evolution of race relations in the face of rapid demographic change as Mexican immigrants move into the traditionally biracial American South. Employing a community-based ethnographic approach, Jones vividly illustrates shifting Southern race relations through the case study of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The Browning of the New South contributes to the scholarship on immigration and racial formation by revealing the mechanisms that spur collaboration (rather than division) between Latino immigrants and African Americans in a process that Jones calls “minority linked fate.” Counter to a generally national conception of racial formation, Jones emphasizes its local nature, not simply based on preexisting racial hierarchies or phenotype but instead on personal experiences of discrimination, unique social pressures, and local political dynamics. Ultimately, this study of the newly triracial South has immense implications for the future of U.S. politics and our understanding of how race is made.

2019 Caribbean Children’s and YA Books

This list of Caribbean authors (some of which are Latinx) was compiled by Summer Edward over at the amazing site Anansesem in January. Please show them love here and please share if you have read any of these great books.

Happy new year! We hope you enjoyed time with loved ones and got some books ticked off your reading list over the holidays. We’re excited to share our list of *English-language* Caribbean children’s and young adult (YA) books expected to be published in the coming year. We curate and publish this list every January (see previous lists here) and we only list #ownvoices books by Caribbean-based and Caribbean self-identified authors. This year will bring books by some of the veterans in the field, like Margarita Engle and Lulu Delacre (both Anansesem alums) plus some highly-anticipated debut titles by authors like Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite, Claribel Ortega and Zalika Reid-Benta. Keep checking this post throughout the year since we will continue to discover and gradually add more 2019 titles. And leave a comment if you know of a book that needs to be added to the list!

*All book synopses from the publisher’s website. Inclusion in the list below does not constitute an endorsement by Anansesem or its editors.

Across the Bay
by Carlos Aponte (Author and Illustrator)
Picturebook. Penguin Workshop. Pub date: September 17, 2019

Author-illustrator Carlos Aponte takes readers on a journey to the heart of Puerto Rico in this enchanting picture book set in Old San Juan.

Carlitos lives in a happy home with his mother, his abuela, and Coco the cat. Life in his hometown is cozy as can be, but the call of the capital city pulls Carlitos across the bay in search of his father. Jolly piragüeros, mischievous cats, and costumed musicians color this tale of love, family, and the true meaning of home.

A Story About Afiya
by James Berry (Author) and Anna Cunha (Illustrator)
Picturebook. Lantana Publishing. Pub date: May 5, 2020

Afiya has fine black skin that shows off her white clothes, big brown eyes that laugh, and long limbs that play. This joyful book provides a celebration of Caribbean identity and a whimsical meditation on the impressionable and irrepressible nature of children, written by Coretta Scott King Book Award–winning poet James Berry.

Boonoonoonous Hair
by Olive Senior (Author) and Laura James (Illustrator)
Picturebook. Tradewinds Books. Pub date: June 30, 2019

In this beautifully illustrated picture book written by Commonwealth Prize-winning author Olive Senior and illustrated by the much-acclaimed artist of Anna Carries Water a little girl learns to love her difficult-to-manage curly hair.

*Full synopsis coming soon.

My Fishy Stepmom
by Shakirah Bourne (Author)
Middle grade-YA book. Blue Banyan Books. Pub date: TBA, 2019

No one is good enough for Josephine Cadogan’s Dad. Not since her mom died. Good thing she’s a master at creating booby traps to stop new girlfriends from coming into their lives.

No one survives her tricks, until Mariss comes along.

No matter what anyone else says, Josephine knows there is something ‘fishy’ about Mariss. She is just too perfect. But Mariss proves much more difficult to get rid of than the others. And maybe it’s all the stories about baccoos and douens, and other mythical creatures from Miss Mo, champion fish de-boner of Fairy Vale, or maybe it’s all the missing pets, but Josephine begins to suspect there is something downright spooky about Mariss. But will she be able to get to the bottom of the mystery?”

Party: A Mystery
by Jamaica Kincaid (Author) and Ricardo Cortés (Illustrator)
Picturebook. Black Sheep/Akashic. Pub date: June 4, 2019

Three girls—Pam, Beth, and Sue—attend a party to celebrate the publication of the first of the Nancy Drew mystery books. There are many distractions at the fancy affair: flower arrangements, party-goers, refreshments, and lots and lots of marble. Suddenly, the oldest girl, Pam, sees what can only be described as something truly . . . bilious . . . not good! Beth sees it too. The youngest, Sue, does not, and as usual she has a hard time getting anyone to tell her anything. Party: A Mystery is a beautifully drawn adventure story that promises questions that will grab children, but does not guarantee an answer. The story’s language builds and swings between lyrical and snappy—packing a wallop.

Red Panda & Moon Bear
by Jarod Roselló (Author and Illustrator)
Middle grade graphic novel. Top Shelf Productions. Pub date: March 26, 2019

Two Latinx kids battle supernatural threats to their working-class neighborhood with the power of science, magic, and a pair of very special hoodies.

Red Panda and Moon Bear are the defenders of their community! Together, these brave siblings rescue lost cats, scold bullies, and solve mysteries, all before Mamá and Papá get home. But lately… the mysteries have been EXTRA mysterious. All of RP and MB’s powers may not be enough to handle spooks, supervillains, alien invaders, and time warps! It’ll take all their imagination — and some new friends — to uncover the secret cause behind all these events before the whole world goes crazy.

In his first book for young readers, Cuban-American cartoonist Jarod Roselló presents a whimsical and tender-hearted adventure, packed with Saturday-morning action and glowing with Caribbean sunshine.

Octopus Stew
by Eric Velasquez (Author and Illustrator)
Picturebook. Holiday House. Pub date: September 17, 2019

What do you do when an octopus captures Grandma? Put on your superhero cape and rescue her! Two stories in one from award-winning Afro-Latino artist Eric Velasquez.

The octopus Grandma is cooking has grown to titanic proportions. “¡Tenga cuidado!” Ramsey shouts. “Be careful!” But it’s too late. The octopus traps Grandma!

Ramsey uses both art and intellect to free his beloved abuela.

Then the story takes a surprising twist. And it can be read two ways. Open the fold-out pages to find Ramsey telling a story to his family. Keep the pages folded, and Ramsey’s octopus adventure is real.

This beautifully illustrated picture book, drawn from the author’s childhood memories, celebrates creativity, heroism, family, grandmothers, grandsons, Puerto Rican food, Latinx culture and more.

Five Midnights
by Ann Dávila Cardinal (Author)
YA novel. Tor Teen. Pub date: June 4, 2019

Ann Dávila Cardinal’s Five Midnights is a “wickedly thrilling” (William Alexander) novel based on the el Cuco myth set against the backdrop of modern day Puerto Rico.

Five friends cursed. Five deadly fates. Five nights of retribución.

If Lupe Dávila and Javier Utierre can survive each other’s company, together they can solve a series of grisly murders sweeping though Puerto Rico. But the clues lead them out of the real world and into the realm of myths and legends. And if they want to catch the killer, they’ll have to step into the shadows to see what’s lurking there—murderer, or monster?

Soaring Earth: A Companion Memoir to Enchanted Air
by Margarita Engle (Author)
YA verse novel. Atheneum Books for Young Readerss. Pub date: February 26, 2019

In this powerful companion to her award-winning memoir Enchanted Air, Young People’s Poet Laureate Margarita Engle recounts her teenage years during the turbulent 1960s.

Margarita Engle’s childhood straddled two worlds: the lush, welcoming island of Cuba and the lonely, dream-soaked reality of Los Angeles. But the revolution has transformed Cuba into a mystery of impossibility, no longer reachable in real life. Margarita longs to travel the world, yet before she can become independent, she’ll have to start high school.

Then the shock waves of war reach America, rippling Margarita’s plans in their wake. Cast into uncertainty, she must grapple with the philosophies of peace, civil rights, freedom of expression, and environmental protection. Despite overwhelming circumstances, she finds solace and empowerment through her education. Amid the challenges of adolescence and a world steeped in conflict, Margarita finds hope beyond the struggle, and love in the most unexpected of places.

With the Fire on High
by Elizabeth Acevedo (Author)
YA novel. HarperTeen. Pub date: May 7, 2019

From the New York Times bestselling author of the National Book Award longlist title The Poet X comes a dazzling novel in prose about a girl with talent, pride, and a drive to feed the soul that keeps her fire burning bright.

Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions—doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness.

Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it’s not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the rules she thinks she has to play by, once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré
by Anika Aldamuy Denise (Author) and Paola Escobar (Illustrator)
Picturebook. Harper Collins. Pub date: January 15, 2019

An inspiring picture book biography of storyteller, puppeteer, and New York City’s first Puerto Rican librarian, who championed bilingual literature.

When she came to America in 1921, Pura Belpré carried the cuentos folklóricos of her Puerto Rican homeland. Finding a new home at the New York Public Library as a bilingual assistant, she turned her popular retellings into libros and spread story seeds across the land. Today, these seeds have grown into a lush landscape as generations of children and storytellers continue to share her tales and celebrate Pura’s legacy.

Brought to colorful life by Paola Escobar’s elegant and exuberant illustrations and Anika Aldamuy Denise’s lyrical text, this gorgeous book is perfect for the pioneers in your life.

Informative backmatter and suggested further reading included.

A Spanish-language edition, Sembrando historias: Pura Belpré: bibliotecaria y narradora de cuentos, is also available.

Sofi Paints Her Dreams/Sofi pinta sus sueños
by Raquel M. Ortiz (Author) and Roberta Morales Collier (Illustrator)
Picturebook. Pinata Books. Pub date: May 31, 2019

Young Sofi enters a New York City community garden and finds a half-painted mural. It’s full of big, leafy plants in blue and yellow, and a vibrant emerald green color appears where the two colors meet. As Sofi runs her fingers over the image, she is suddenly transported to a beautiful place with plants just like the ones on the wall!

Sofi finds herself in the Dominican Republic, where she meets a young boy named Juan Luis. He is writing a song, but he’s stuck on the lyrics and needs her help. After they finish the song, the pair flies over the river that separates San Pedro de Macoris from Haiti. There, Juan Luis introduces her to his friend, Güerlande, a young metal artist. She also needs Sofi’s help. Can she make just the right shade of purple to paint Güerlande’s huge mermaid sculpture?

This bilingual picture book about an imaginative girl and an enchanted mural is an engaging exploration of the cultural traditions of the Caribbean. The sequel to Sofi and the Magic, Musical Mural / Sofi y el mágico mural musical, this story introduces young readers to the art and music of the gorgeous island of Hispaniola. Kids will be encouraged to explore their own artistic talents after reading about internationally acclaimed Dominican musician, Juan Luis Guerra, and Haitian artist, Güerlande Balan.

My Mommy Medicine
by Edwidge Danticat (Author) and Shannon Wright (Illustrator)
Picturebook. Roaring Brook Press. Pub date: February 26, 2019

My Mommy Medicine is a picture book about the comfort and love a mama offers when her child isn’t feeling well, from renowned author Edwidge Danticat.

Whenever I am sick,
Or just feel kind of gloomy or sad,
I can always count on my Mommy Medicine.

When a child wakes up feeling sick, she is treated to a good dose of Mommy Medicine. Her remedy includes a yummy cup of hot chocolate; a cozy, bubble-filled bath time; and unlimited snuggles and cuddles. Mommy Medicine can heal all woes and make any day the BEST day!

Award-winning memoirist Edwidge Danticat’s rich and lyrical text envelops the reader in the security of a mother’s love, and debut artist Shannon Wright’s vibrant art infuses the story with even more warmth.

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe
by Carlos Hernández (Author)
Middle grade novel. Rick Riordan Presents. Pub date: March 5, 2019

How did a raw chicken get inside Yasmany’s locker?

When Sal Vidon meets Gabi Real for the first time, it isn’t under the best of circumstances. Sal is in the principal’s office for the third time in three days, and it’s still the first week of school. Gabi, student council president and editor of the school paper, is there to support her friend Yasmany, who just picked a fight with Sal. She is determined to prove that somehow, Sal planted a raw chicken in Yasmany’s locker, even though nobody saw him do it and the bloody poultry has since mysteriously disappeared.

Sal prides himself on being an excellent magician, but for this sleight of hand, he relied on a talent no one would guess . . . except maybe Gabi, whose sharp eyes never miss a trick. When Gabi learns that he’s capable of conjuring things much bigger than a chicken–including his dead mother–and she takes it all in stride, Sal knows that she is someone he can work with. There’s only one slight problem: their manipulation of time and space could put the entire universe at risk.

A sassy entropy sweeper, a documentary about wedgies, a principal who wears a Venetian bauta mask, and heaping platefuls of Cuban food are just some of the delights that await in his mind-blowing novel gift-wrapped in love and laughter.

Don’t Date Rosa Santos
by Nina Moreno (Author)
YA novel. Disney-Hyperion. Pub date: May 14, 2019

For fans of GILMORE GIRLS and TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE, this effervescent love story from debut author Nina Moreno will sweep you away.

Rosa Santos is cursed by the sea-at least, that’s what they say. Dating her is bad news, especially if you’re a boy with a boat.

But Rosa feels more caught than cursed. Caught between cultures and choices. Between her abuela, a beloved healer and pillar of their community, and her mother, an artist who crashes in and out of her life like a hurricane. Between Port Coral, the quirky South Florida town they call home, and Cuba, the island her abuela refuses to talk about.

As her college decision looms, Rosa collides-literally-with Alex Aquino, the mysterious boy with tattoos of the ocean whose family owns the marina. With her heart, her family, and her future on the line, can Rosa break a curse and find her place beyond the horizon?

Silver Meadows Summer
by Emma Otheguy (Author)
Middle grade novel. Knopf Books for Young Readers. Pub date: April 30, 2019

Just right for fans of Pam Muñoz Ryan, this story of moving out and moving on is a touching portrayal of the experience of leaving one’s home country and making new friends–sometimes where least expected.

Eleven-year-old Carolina’s summer–and life as she knows it–is upended when Papi loses his job, and she and her family must move from Puerto Rico to her Tía Cuca and Uncle Porter’s house in upstate New York. Now Carolina must attend Silver Meadows camp, where her bossy older cousin Gabriela rules the social scene.

Just as Carolina worries she’ll have to spend the entire summer in Gabriela’s shadow, she makes a friend of her own in Jennifer, a fellow artist. Carolina gets another welcome surprise when she stumbles upon a long-abandoned cottage in the woods near the campsite and immediately sees its potential as a creative haven for making art. There, with Jennifer, Carolina begins to reclaim the parts of the life she loved in Puerto Rico and forget about how her relationship with Mami has changed and how distant Papi has become.

But when the future of Silver Meadows and the cottage is thrown into jeopardy, Carolina and–to everyone’s surprise–Gabriela come up with a plan to save them. Will it work?

Dealing in Dreams
by Lilliam Rivera (Author)
YA novel. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Pub date: March 5, 2019

The Outsiders meets Mad Max: Fury Road in this fast-paced dystopian novel about sisterhood and the cruel choices people are forced to make in order to survive.

At night, Las Mal Criadas own these streets.

Sixteen-year-old Nalah leads the fiercest all-girl crew in Mega City. That role brings with it violent throwdowns and access to the hottest boydega clubs, but Nalah quickly grows weary of her questionable lifestyle. Her dream is to get off the streets and make a home in the exclusive Mega Towers, in which only a chosen few get to live. To make it to the Mega Towers, Nalah must prove her loyalty to the city’s benevolent founder and cross the border in a search of the mysterious gang the Ashé Ryders. Led by a reluctant guide, Nalah battles crews and her own doubts but the closer she gets to her goal the more she loses sight of everything–and everyone–she cares about.

Nalah must choose whether or not she’s willing to do the unspeakable to get what she wants. Can she discover that home is not where you live but whom you chose to protect before she loses the family she’s created for good?

The Universal Laws of Marco
by Carmen Rodrigues (Author)
Middle grade novel. TU Books. Pub date: Fall 2018

Told through the lens of a guy in love with the cosmos (and maybe two girls), The Universal Laws of Marco explores the complicated histories that bring us together and tear us apart.

In the summer before eighth grade, Marco Suarez kissed his best friend Sally Blake. This was his first spark.

And since then, whenever he’s thought about that moment, he’s traveled through a wormhole—of sorts—to relive those brief seconds when time sped up (or, rather, his view of time distorted) and he kissed her.

And then, at the end of that year, she disappeared, leaving in that way that people sometimes leave—alive and well and somewhere out there but gone, nonetheless. She never even said why.

And now in their senior year, Sally unexpectedly returns and Marco is shaken. Still, he holds tightly to his carefully choreographed life. A life that is full of reasons why first sparks don’t matter:

Reason 1: He has a girlfriend. Her name is Erika Richards.
Reason 2: He’s leaving on a full scholarship to college.
Reason 3: He’s busy with his friends and making money to help support his family.

But as Marco navigates the final days of high school, he learns that leaving home is never easy and a first spark is hard to ignore.

The Jumbie God’s Revenge
by Tracey Baptiste (Author)
Middle grade novel. Algonquin Young Readers. Pub date: September 3, 2019

In book three of the popular Jumbies series, Corinne must use her emerging supernatural powers to battle the angry god who would destroy her Caribbean island home.

When an out-of-season hurricane sweeps through Corinne’s seaside village, Corinne knows it’s not a typical storm. At first Corinne believes Mama D’Leau—the powerful and cruel jumbie who rules the ocean—has caused the hurricane. Then a second, even more ferocious storm wrecks the island, sending villagers fleeing their houses for shelter in the mountains, and Corinne discovers the storms weren’t caused by a jumbie, but by the angry god Huracan.

Now Corinne, with the help of her friends and even some of her enemies, must race against time to find out what has angered Huracan and try to fix it before her island home is destroyed forever.

A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louise Bennett Coverley Found Her Voice
by Nadia Hohn (Author) and Eugenie Fernandes (Illustrator)
Picturebook. Owlkids. Pub date: August 15, 2019

A picture book biography of the Jamaican poet Miss Lou.

*Full synopsis coming soon.

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine
by Maika Moulite (Author) and Maritza Moulite (Author)
YA novel. Inkyard Press. Pub date: September 3, 2019

This exceptional debut novel captures a sparkling new voice and irrepressible heroine in a celebration of storytelling sure to thrill fans of Nicola Yoon, Ibi Zoboi and Jenna Evans Welch!

When a school presentation goes very wrong, Alaine Beauparlant finds herself suspended, shipped off to Haiti and writing the report of a lifetime…

You might ask the obvious question: What do I, a seventeen-year-old Haitian American from Miami with way too little life experience, have to say about anything?

Actually, a lot.

Thanks to “the incident” (don’t ask), I’m spending the next two months doing what my school is calling a “spring volunteer immersion project.” It’s definitely no vacation. I’m toiling away under the ever-watchful eyes of Tati Estelle at her new nonprofit. And my lean-in queen of a mother is even here to make sure I do things right. Or she might just be lying low to dodge the media sharks after a much more public incident of her own…and to hide a rather devastating secret.

All things considered, there are some pretty nice perks…like flirting with Tati’s distractingly cute intern, getting actual face time with my mom and experiencing Haiti for the first time. I’m even exploring my family’s history—which happens to be loaded with betrayals, superstitions and possibly even a family curse.

You know, typical drama. But it’s nothing I can’t handle.

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them
by Junauda Petrus (Author)
YA novel. Dutton Books for Young Readers. Pub date: September 17, 2019

Told in two distinct and irresistible voices, Junauda Petrus’s bold and lyrical debut is the story of two black girls from very different backgrounds finding love and happiness in a world that seems determined to deny them both.

Trinidad. Sixteen-year-old Audre is despondent, having just found out she’s going to be sent to live in America with her father because her strictly religious mother caught her with her secret girlfriend, the pastor’s daughter. Audre’s grandmother Queenie (a former dancer who drives a white convertible Cadillac and who has a few secrets of her own) tries to reassure her granddaughter that she won’t lose her roots, not even in some place called Minneapolis. “America have dey spirits too, believe me,” she tells Audre.

Minneapolis. Sixteen-year-old Mabel is lying on her bed, staring at the ceiling and trying to figure out why she feels the way she feels–about her ex Terrell, about her girl Jada and that moment they had in the woods, and about the vague feeling of illness that’s plagued her all summer. Mabel’s reverie is cut short when her father announces that his best friend and his just-arrived-from-Trinidad daughter are coming for dinner.

Mabel quickly falls hard for Audre and is determined to take care of her as she tries to navigate an American high school. But their romance takes a turn when test results reveal exactly why Mabel has been feeling low-key sick all summer and suddenly it’s Audre who is caring for Mabel as she faces a deeply uncertain future.

Junauda Petrus’s debut brilliantly captures the distinctly lush and lyrical voices of Mabel and Audre as they conjure a love that is stronger than hatred, prison, and death and as vast as the blackness between the stars.

Nocturna
by Maya Motayne (Author)
YA novel. Balzer + Bray. Pub date: May 7, 2019

The first in a sweeping and epic own voices debut fantasy trilogy—set in a stunning Latinx-inspired world—about a face-changing thief and a risk-taking prince who must team up to defeat a powerful evil they accidentally unleashed. Perfect for fans of Tomi Adeyemi, Leigh Bardugo, and V. E. Schwab.

To Finn Voy, magic is two things: a knife to hold under the chin of anyone who crosses her…and a disguise she shrugs on as easily as others pull on cloaks.

As a talented faceshifter, it’s been years since Finn has seen her own face, and that’s exactly how she likes it. But when Finn gets caught by a powerful mobster, she’s forced into an impossible mission: steal a legendary treasure from Castallan’s royal palace or be stripped of her magic forever.

After the murder of his older brother, Prince Alfehr is first in line for the Castallan throne. But Alfie can’t help but feel that he will never live up to his brother’s legacy. Riddled with grief, Alfie is obsessed with finding a way to bring his brother back, even if it means dabbling in forbidden magic.

But when Finn and Alfie’s fates collide, they accidentally unlock a terrible, ancient power—which, if not contained, will devour the world. And with Castallan’s fate in their hands, Alfie and Finn must race to vanquish what they have unleashed, even if it means facing the deepest darkness in their pasts.

Frying Plantain
by Zalika Reid-Benta (Author)
Middle grade/YA short story collection. House of Anansi Press. Pub date: June 4, 2019

Kara Davis is a girl caught in the middle — of her Canadian nationality and her desire to be a “true” Jamaican, of her mother and grandmother’s rages and life lessons, of having to avoid being thought of as too “faas” or too “quiet” or too “bold” or too “soft.” Set in “Little Jamaica,” Toronto’s Eglinton West neighbourhood, Kara moves from girlhood to the threshold of adulthood, from elementary school to high school graduation, in these twelve interconnected stories. We see her on a visit to Jamaica, startled by the sight of a severed pig’s head in her great aunt’s freezer; in junior high, the victim of a devastating prank by her closest friends; and as a teenager in and out of her grandmother’s house, trying to cope with the ongoing battles between her unyielding grandparents.

A rich and unforgettable portrait of growing up between worlds, Frying Plantain shows how, in one charged moment, friendship and love can turn to enmity and hate, well-meaning protection can become control, and teasing play can turn to something much darker. In her brilliantly incisive debut, Zalika Reid-Benta artfully depicts the tensions between mothers and daughters, second-generation Canadians and first-generation cultural expectations, and Black identity and predominately white society.

The Truth Is
by NoNieqa Ramos (Author)
YA novel. Carolrhoda Lab. Pub date: September 3, 2019

A powerful exploration of love, identity, and self-worth through the eyes of a fierce, questioning Puerto Rican teen.

Fifteen-year-old Verdad doesn’t think she has time for love. She’s still struggling to process the recent death of her best friend, Blanca; dealing with the high expectations of her hardworking Puerto Rican mother and the absence of her remarried father; and keeping everyone at a distance. But when she meets Danny, a new guy at school–who happens to be trans–all bets are off. Verdad suddenly has to deal with her mother’s disapproval of her relationship with Danny as well as her own prejudices and questions about her identity, and Danny himself, who is comfortable in his skin but keeping plenty of other secrets.

Ghost Squad
by Claribel Ortega (Author)
Middle grade novel. Scholastic Press. Pub date: September 3, 2019

The hurricane-swept town of St. Augustine is the only home Lucely Luna has ever known. It’s the same home her father grew up in, and his parents before him. In fact, all of the deceased relatives in the Luna family now live as firefly spirits in the weeping willow tree in their backyard.

Shortly before Halloween, a mysterious storm appears on the radar heading towards St. Augustine, causing Lucely’s firefly spirits to lose their connection to this world. In an effort to save them, Lucely finds a spell to bring them back to life, but accidentally brings more spirits to the town than she’d planned. Ghosts start showing up all around town, some more dangerous than others, wreaking havoc.

Lucely will have to band together with her best friend and occult buff, Syd, along with Syd’s witch grandmother, Babette, and her tubby tabby, Chunk, to fight the haunting head on, save the town, and save her firefly spirits all before the full moon culminates on Halloween.

Queenie
by Candice Carty-Williams (Author)
YA crossover novel. Gallery/Scout Press . Pub date: March 19, 2019

Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Americanah in this disarmingly honest, boldly political, and truly inclusive novel that will speak to anyone who has gone looking for love and found something very different in its place.

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

With “fresh and honest” (Jojo Moyes) prose, Queenie is a remarkably relatable exploration of what it means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today’s world.

The Black Flamingo
by Dean Atta (Author)
YA novel in verse. Hodder Children’s Books. Pub date: August 8, 2019

Fiercely told, this is a bold and timely coming-of-age story, told in verse about one boy’s journey to self-acceptance. Perfect for fans of Sara Crossan, The Poet Xand Orangeboy.

A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen – then at university he finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. A bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers – to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.

I masquerade in makeup and feathers and I am applauded.

What Lane?
by Torrey Maldonado (Author)
Nancy Paulsen Books. Pub date: TBA

*Synopsis coming soon

Belly Full Stew
by Heidi Fagerberg (Author) and Ann-Cathrine Loo (Illustrator)
Picturebook. CaribbeanReads. Pub date: TBA

*Synopsis coming soon

Rafi and Rosi: Music!/Rafi y Rosi: música!
by Lulu Delacre (Author and Illustrator)
Early Reader. Lee & Low Books. Pub date: TBA

In this new book in the popular Dive Into Reading: Rafi and Rosi chapter book series, Rafi and his younger sister, Rosi, are excited to learn about and participate in the traditional forms of music of their native Puerto Rico. They drum and dance to the rolling and rippling beats of bomba instruments. They sing and sway with the rhythms of plena songs. And they attend a party where they eat paella and warm corn fritters and dance to the hot, spicy beat of la salsa!

El baile de octavo y otros recuerdos / The Eighth Grade Dance and Other Memories
by Ada de Jesús (Author) and Nicolás Kanellos (Translator)
YA book. Pinata Books. Pub date: May 31, 2019

Eleven-year-old Ada De Jesús was on the cusp of her teens when she moved to the United States from Puerto Rico. Hurricane Hugo had just decimated the island and her father couldn’t find a job.

In Chicago, the white dress she arrived in didn’t protect her from the snow and frigid temperatures! Constantly exposed to new things, she developed a resilience that served her well. “From one place to another, like riding a bike, if you keep pedaling, you won’t fall.”

Ada discovered that students in the United States were frequently disrespectful to their teachers. At school she often felt like a two-year-old as she grappled with a completely new language. In addition to navigating a different culture, she had to deal with all the issues familiar to teenage girls: the growth of body hair, pimples, menstruation and of course boys! Her memories of first intimate encounters, fending off unwanted advances and fear of pregnancy will strike a chord with readers.

In these short vignettes recollecting her middle-school years, Ada De Jesús shares her poignant and often funny experiences as a newcomer and an adolescent. Young readers will relate to—and laugh at—her experiences; some may take heart that they too will overcome the difficulties common at this age.

Oh My Gods
by Alexandra Sheppard (Author)
YA novel. Scholastic. Pub date: January 3, 2019

Life as a half-mortal teenager should be epic.

But, for Helen Thomas, it’s tragic.

She’s just moved in with her dorky dad and self-absorbed older siblings – who happen to be the ancient Greek gods, living incognito in London!

Between keeping her family’s true identities secret, trying to impress her new friends, and meeting an actually cute boy, Helen’s stress levels are higher than Mount Olympus.

She needs to rein in her chaotic family before they blow their cover AND her chances at a half-normal social life.

*Our note: Like the author, the main character is a biracial Jamaican Brit teen.

This Train Is Being Held
by Ismée Williams (Author)
YA novel. Amulet Books. Pub date: September 10, 2019

When private school student Isabelle Warren first meets Dominican-American Alex Rosario on the downtown 1 train, she remembers his green eyes and his gentlemanly behavior. He remembers her untroubled happiness, something he feels all rich kids must possess. That, and her long dancer legs.

Over the course of multiple subway encounters spanning the next three years, Isabelle learns of Alex’s struggle with his father, who is hell-bent on Alex being a contender for the major leagues, despite Alex’s desire to go to college and become a poet. Alex learns about Isabelle’s unstable mother, a woman with a prejudice against Latino men. But fate—and the 1 train—throw them together when Isabelle needs Alex most. Heartfelt and evocative, this romantic drama will appeal to readers of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen.

When Julia Danced Bomba/Cuando Julia Bailaba Bomba
by Raquel M. Ortiz (Author) and Flor de Vita (Illustrator)
Picturebook. Arte Publico Press. Pub date: December 2019

Young Julia struggles with the steps to the Afro-Puerto Rican dance known as bomba, but when she quits trying so hard and listens and feels the beat of the drums, she is able to relax, enjoy herself, and do the steps perfectly.

In the Key of Nira Ghani
by Natasha Deen (Author)
YA novel. Running Press Kids. Pub date: April 9, 2019

A Guyanese girl must find the balance between her parents’ “old world” expectations and traditions while pursuing her dream of being a great trumpeter in this contemporary, coming-of-age story, written by an #OwnVoices author.

Nira Ghani has always dreamed of becoming a musician. Her Guyanese parents, however, have big plans for her to become a scientist or doctor. Nira’s grandmother and her best friend, Emily, are the only people who seem to truly understand her desire to establish an identity outside of the one imposed on Nira by her parents. When auditions for jazz band are announced, Nira realizes it’s now or never to convince her parents that she deserves a chance to pursue her passion.

As if fighting with her parents weren’t bad enough, Nira finds herself navigating a new friendship dynamic when her crush, Noah, and notorious mean-girl, McKenzie “Mac,” take a sudden interest in her and Emily, inserting themselves into the fold. So, too, does Nira’s much cooler (and very competitive) cousin Farah. Is she trying to wiggle her way into the new group to get closer to Noah? Is McKenzie trying to steal Emily’s attention away from her? As Farah and Noah grow closer and Emily begins to pull away, Nira’s trusted trumpet “George” remains her constant, offering her an escape from family and school drama.

But it isn’t until Nira takes a step back that she realizes she’s not the only one struggling to find her place in the world. As painful truths about her family are revealed, Nira learns to accept people for who they are and to open herself in ways she never thought possible.

A relatable and timely contemporary, coming-of age story, In the Key of Nira Ghaniexplores the social and cultural struggles of a teen in an immigrant household.

The Dark of the Sea
by Imam Baksh (Author)
YA novel. Blue Banyan Books. Pub date: September 15, 2019

Obsessed with girls, devoid of muscles and faced with hostile teachers and a reading disability, 15-year-old Danesh has been struggling to survive life in the lower bowls of the Essequibo high school system. In a community wracked by alcoholism, suicide and corruption, he sees no purposeful path for himself.

Then, Medusa, a creature of savage beauty and determination, crashes into his life and reveals a whole new world beneath the muddy waves—a world full of wonder, adventure and the possibility of becoming a better person. But Danesh soon learns that the path before him is not an easy one and to get there he just may have to redefine what it means to be a hero.

A Dark Iris
by Elizabeth J. Jones (Author)
YA novel. Blue Banyan Books. Pub date: July 15, 2019

It is 1972 and 12-year-old Rebekah Eve is excited to be on her way to the prestigious Meridian Institute with her best friend, Wanda. But Rebekah’s joy is dampened by her parents’ separation. She misses having her father at home and the fun things they did together. Most of all, she dislikes her mother’s new ‘friend’–Thomas Forster–who is trying way too hard to win her over. These personal changes take place while her country, goes through dramatic changes of its own, and life gets even more complicated when her new friend Zende is arrested for the attempted assassination of the Governor.

To cope, Rebekah turns to her art. But her paintings take on new, or rather ‘old’ life, as figures from the past seep in and replace her usual subjects. She is thrust into a whirlwind of emotion as her visions and the resulting paintings unveil wounds of the past that are not buried as deeply as some would like.

With help from the mysterious Lady of the Library and her new art tutor Mr. Stowe, Rebekah makes sense of these visions and unearths the truth behind one of Bermuda’s legends. But some truths are difficult for anyone, especially a young girl, to digest. Ultimately, she must learn to trust herself, believe in her talents, and that even a little black girl from a small island, could one day become a famous artist.

Kirkus Review of WHEN JULIA DANCED BOMBA / CUANDO JULIA BAILABA BOMBA by Raquel Ortiz

Read on Kirkus

Afro–Puerto Rican dance traditions are celebrated through one girl’s breakthrough moment with bomba.

Julia is not thrilled to be practicing dance at the cultural center after she’s dragged along by her brother Cheíto, who is adept at drumming on barriles to make music for the bomba dance. “Julia didn’t want to practice dancing. She preferred to play make believe. Julia loved to daydream about becoming an astronaut.” After she watches an older dancer and tries her own clumsy steps, Julia is ready to give up. But when she’s invited to participate in bombazo, an opportunity for dancers to perform solos as everybody sings, she finds her nervousness transformed to joy as she locks in with the main drum. “TAN, rang out the drum again, loud and clear. ‘Wow,’ Julia thought, ‘the drum is talking to me!’ ” Readers won’t learn much about Julia, her brother, or other dancers in the story, but what Ortiz elucidates in the text and de Vita conveys in motion-filled illustrations and close-ups on drums is how music can break through one’s defenses and take over. The way Julia’s expressions change and her movements go from stiff and frustrated to unencumbered works. Throughout the book, English and Spanish versions of the text are featured, including lyrics from the music from Julia’s solo performance. A pagelong explanation of bomba celebrations and a brief glossary round out the package.

A solid reminder of music’s power and a good primer on Puerto Rican dance culture. (Picture book. 5-8)