August Latinx Book Releases!

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We are an affiliate with Indiebound and Bookshop. If If you make a purchase through these links, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a small commission.

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In addition to listing 2021 titles by/for/about Latinx on our master list, we will remind readers of what’s releasing each month. CONGRATULATIONS to these Latinx creators. Let’s celebrate these August book babies! Please let us know in the comments if we are missing any.

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DRILL TEAM DETERMINATION: A Jake Maddox JV Girls Story text by Cindy L. Rodriguez (Capstone/Stone Arch Books, August 1, 2021). Middle Grade. Thirteen-year-old Aniyah comes from a long line of drill and step team members. Her mom and aunts all competed, so none of them understand why Aniyah doesn’t want to continue the tradition. But Aniyah doesn’t like attention or performing. Then Aniyah’s friend Stacy convinces her to give the team a try. They dance just for fun and they don’t compete, so there’s no pressure. Aniyah discovers she is right—it is kind of fun! But just when Aniyah is starting to get into the groove, the rules change, and the team decides to enter a competition. Can Aniyah overcome her fears and get on board with competition, or will she have to step away from drill team?

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GYMNASTICS PAYBACK: A Jake Maddox Mysteries Book text by Cindy L. Rodriguez (Capstone/Stone Arch Books, August 1, 2021). Middle Grade. Mia Hernandez’s gymnastics team is nervous about the upcoming season. However, they’re encouraged when their new coach tells them that she was once a gymnast for their longtime rivals. The coach’s knowledge will be a great advantage during the season. But strange things begin to happen at the competitions. The wrong music is played during some girls’ floor exercises. Itching powder ends up in one team’s chalk. At another meet, the parallel bars fall apart while a competitor performs her routine. Someone is taking dangerous risks to cheat at the competitions. But who could it be, and why? Follow along as Mia discovers the shocking truth behind who’s been sabotaging the competition during the gymnastics season in this Jake Maddox JV Mystery.

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A SONG OF FRUTAS/ Un pregón de frutas by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Sara Palacios (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, August 3, 2021). Picture Book. The little girl loves visiting her grandfather in Cuba and singing his special songs to sell all kinds of fruit: mango, limón, naranja, piña, and more! Even when they’re apart, grandfather and granddaughter can share rhymes between their countries like un abrazo—a hug—made of words carried on letters that soar across the distance like songbirds.

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LIKE A LOVE SONG by Gabriela Martins (Underlined, August 3, 2021). Young AdultFake boyfriend. Real heartbreak? Natalie is living her dream: topping the charts and setting records as a Brazilian pop star… until she’s dumped spectacularly on live television. Not only is it humiliating–it could end her career.

Her PR team’s desperate plan? A gorgeous yet oh-so-fake boyfriend. Nati reluctantly agrees, but William is not what she expected. She was hoping for a fierce bad boy–not a soft-hearted British indie film star. While she fights her way back to the top with a sweet and surprisingly swoon-worthy boy on her arm, she starts to fall for William–and realizes that maybe she’s the biggest fake of them all. Can she reclaim her voice and her heart?

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PAOLA SANTIAGO AND THE FOREST OF NIGHTMARES by Tehlor Kay Mejia (Rick Riordan Presents, August 3, 2021). Middle Grade. Six months after Paola Santiago confronted the legendary La Llorona, life is nothing like she’d expected it to be. She is barely speaking to her best friends, Dante and Emma, and what’s worse, her mom has a totally annoying boyfriend. Even with her chupacabra puppy, Bruto, around, Pao can’t escape the feeling that she’s all alone in the world.

Pao has no one to tell that she’s having nightmares again, this time set in a terrifying forest. Even more troubling? At their center is her estranged father, an enigma of a man she barely remembers. And when Dante’s abuela falls mysteriously ill, it seems that the dad Pao never knew just might be the key to healing the eccentric old woman.

Pao’s search for her father will send her far from home, where she will encounter new monsters and ghosts, a devastating betrayal, and finally, the forest of her nightmares. Will the truths her father has been hiding save the people Pao loves, or destroy them?

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WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE GREEN? by Rana DiOrio, illustrated by Addy Rivera Sonda (Little Pickle Press, August 3, 2021). Picture Book. A young boy and girl explore all the different ways they can be green over the course of a day. Drawing on two sides of your paper instead of just one. Walking to the park instead of getting a ride. Turning off the water while you brush your teeth. They discover lots of amazing facts (like how our food travels an average of 1,500 miles to be on our plate ) and realize there’s so much they–and we–can do to help save our world

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Yamile Saied Méndez - Wish Upon a Stray

WISH UPON A STRAY by Yamile Saied Méndez (Scholastic, August 3, 2021). Middle Grade. María Emilia’s life turns upside-down when she and her family immigrate from Argentina to the US. How can she make new friends when simply speaking English all day is exhausting?

Luckily, she has the company of a stray dog in the neighborhood, who happens to look and act just like her beloved pet cat back home. Eventually, it turns out the pup isn’t a stray after all — she belongs to María Emilia’s new neighbor, Donovan. In order to spend more time with the dog (who totally isn’t her reincarnated cat… right?), she agrees to sing in Donovan’s band. But can Emilia find her new voice without losing herself?

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ALEJANDRIA FIGHTS BACK! / ¡LA LUCHA DE ALEJANDRIA! by Leticia Hernandez-Linares, illustrated by Robert Liu-Trujillo for the Rise-Home Project (Feminist Press, August 10, 2021). Picture Book. For nine-year-old Alejandria, home isn’t just the apartment she shares with Mami and her abuela, Tita, but rather the whole neighborhood. Home is the bakery where Ms. Beatrice makes yummy picos; the sidewalk where Ms. Alicia sells flowers with her little dog, Duende; and the corner store with friendly Mr. Amir.

But lately the city has been changing, and rent prices are going up. Many people in el barrio are leaving because they can no longer afford their homes, and For Sale signs are popping up everywhere. Then the worst thing happens: Mami receives a letter saying they’ll have to move out too.

Alejandria knows it isn’t fair, but she’s not about to give up and leave. Join Alejandria as she brings her community together to fight and save their neighborhood.

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Boogie Boogie, Y'all - Kindle edition by Esperanza, C. G., Esperanza, C.  G.. Children Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

BOOGIE BOOGIE, Y’ALL written and illustrated by C.G. Esperanza (Katherine Tegan Books, August 10, 2021). Picture Book. A celebratory ode to graffiti and the Boogie Down Bronx. The city is alive with vibrant art in every corner of the parks, the shops, the trains. But most people are too busy to see it—or worse, choose to ignore it! When three children stop to marvel at the art around their community, they realize it’s up to them to show everyone else how truly special it is when art and reality dance together so seamlessly.

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HOW MOON FUENTEZ FELL IN LOVE WITH THE UNIVERSE by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, August 10, 2021). Young Adult. When her twin sister reaches social media stardom, Moon Fuentez accepts her fate as the ugly, unwanted sister hidden in the background, destined to be nothing more than her sister’s camerawoman. But this summer, Moon also takes a job as the “merch girl” on a tour bus full of beautiful influencers and her fate begins to shift in the best way possible.

Most notable is her bunkmate and new nemesis, Santiago Phillips, who is grumpy, combative, and also the hottest guy Moon has ever seen.

Moon is certain she hates Santiago and that he hates her back. But as chance and destiny (and maybe, probably, close proximity) bring the two of them in each other’s perpetual paths, Moon starts to wonder if that’s really true. She even starts to question her destiny as the unnoticed, unloved wallflower she always thought she was.

Could this summer change Moon’s life as she knows it?

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13th STREET #6: Fight with the Freeze-Ray Fowls by David Bowles, illustrated by Shane Clester (HarperChapters, August 17, 2021). Chapter Book. Cousins Malia, Dante, and Ivan must face off against the evil queen of 13th Street. But she has lots of monsters on her side, including birds that can freeze you with a look! Can the cousins defeat her and shut down 13th Street once and for all?

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BIG APPLE DIARIES written and illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez (Roaring Brook Press, August 17, 2021). Middle Grade. It’s the year 2000 in New York City. For 12-year old Alyssa, this means splitting time between her Puerto Rican dad’s apartment in Manhattan and her white mom’s new place in Queens, navigating the trials and tribulations of middle school, and an epic crush on a new classmate. The only way to make sense of it all is to capture the highs and lows in doodles and hilarious comics in a diary.

Then life abruptly changes on September 11, 2001. After the Twin Towers fall and so many lives are lost, worries about gossip and boys feel distant and insignificant. Alyssa must find a new sense of self and purpose amidst all of the chaos, and find the strength to move forward with hope.

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DEFINITELY DOMINGUITA: All for One by Terry Castasús, illustrated by Fatima Anaya (Aladdin, August 17, 2021). Chapter Book. Dom, Pancho, Steph, and their noble steed, Rocco, are ready for their next adventure! When their beloved El Señor Fuentes asks Dom to run a very important errand—to put the order in at the local butcher shop for his daughter, Leni’s, upcoming quinceañera—Dom is happy to help. But when Señor Fuentes discovers the order was never put in—and the food for the party has been sold to someone else—Dom takes a cue from The Three Musketeers to try and figure out what happened.

With the help of Pancho and Steph, Dom discovers the dastardly Bublassi brothers have big plans to sabotage Leni’s party. Keeping in mind the famous motto All for One and One for All, Mundytown’s own Three Musketeers are determined to make sure Leni has a party she’ll remember for all the right reasons!

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LIVING BEYOND BORDERS: Growing up Mexican in America edited by Margarita Longoria (Philomel Books, August 17, 2021). Young Adult Anthology. Twenty stand-alone short stories, essays, poems, and more from celebrated and award-winning authors make up this YA anthology that explores the Mexican American experience. With works by Francisco X. Stork, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, David Bowles, Rubén Degollado, e.E. Charlton-Trujillo, Diana López, Xavier Garza, Trinidad Gonzales, Alex Temblador, Aida Salazar, Lupe Ruiz-Flores, Sylvia Sanchez Garza, Dominic Carrillo, Angela Cervantes, Carolyn Dee Flores, René Saldaña Jr., Justine Narro, Daniel García Ordaz, and Anna Meriano. In this mixed-media collection of short stories, personal essays, poetry, and comics, this celebrated group of authors share the borders they have crossed, the struggles they have pushed through, and the two cultures they continue to navigate as Mexican American.

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MY TWO BORDER TOWNS / MIS DOS PUEBLOS FRONTERIZOS by David Bowles, illustrated by Erika Meza (Kokila, August 24, 2021). Picture Book. Early one Saturday morning, a boy prepares for a trip to the Other Side/el Otro Lado. It’s close—just down the street from his school—and it’s a twin of where he lives. To get there, his father drives their truck along the Rio Grande and over a bridge, where they’re greeted by a giant statue of an eagle. Their outings always include a meal at their favorite restaurant, a visit with Tío Mateo at his jewelry store, a cold treat from the paletero, and a pharmacy pickup. On their final and most important stop, they check in with friends seeking asylum and drop off much-needed supplies.

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BRAINS! NOT JUST A ZOMBIE SNACK by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Matthew Rivera (Henry Holt and Co. BYR, August 31, 2021). Picture Book. Brains. 78% water, 100% delicious. A zombie chef who has sworn off eating brains salivates over this super powerful organ in this funny and fact-filled picture book. From learning about how the brain processes messages from our five senses, to learning why wrinkly human brains are so much more powerful than smooth mouse brains, this is a hilarious introduction to the organ that does it all.

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Celebrating 25 Years of the Pura Belpré Award: Book Talk About Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book by Yuyi Morales

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We are an affiliate with Indiebound and Bookshop. If If you make a purchase through these links, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a small commission.

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The Pura Belpré Award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latinx writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.

Today, Dr. Sonia Rodriguez and Dora M. Guzmán talk about Just A Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book by Yuyi Morales. The book won the 2003 Pura Belpré Illustration Award. You can find our book talks on our new YouTube channel!

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Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez, PhD is an Associate Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College (CUNY) where she teaches composition, literature, and creative writing. Her academic research focuses on decolonial healing in Latinx children’s and young adult literature. Sonia is a Mellon Emerging Faculty Leader.

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Dora M. Guzmán is a bilingual reading specialist for grades K-5 and also teaches college courses in Children’s Literature and Teaching Beginning Literacy. She is currently a doctoral student with a major in Reading, Language, and Literacy. When she is not sharing her love of reading with her students, you can find her in the nearest library, bookstore, or online, finding more great reads to add to her never-ending “to read” pile!

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Latinx Book Deals: June 2021

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Compiled by Cecilia Cackley

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This is a monthly series keeping track of the book deals announced by Latinx writers and illustrators. The purpose of this series is to celebrate book deals by authors and illustrators in our community and to advocate for more of them. If you are an agent and you have a Latinx client who just announced a deal, you can let me know on Twitter, @citymousedc. If you are a Latinx author or illustrator writing for children or young adults, and you just got a book deal, send me a message and we will celebrate with you! And if I left anyone out here, please let me know! Here’s to many more wonderful books in the years to come.

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June 1

Kate Fletcher has signed graphic novelist Mel Valentine Vargas to create a graphic novel interpretation of award-winning YA novel Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina, about a Latina teen who is targeted by a bully at her new school and must discover resources she never knew she had. Publication is planned to coincide with the book’s 10th anniversary in 2024. Illustrator agent: Elizabeth Bennett at Transatlantic Agency. Author agent: Jen Rofé at Andrea Brown Literary.

Neal Porter at Holiday House/Neal Porter Books has bought world rights to A-M-O-R Spells L-O-V-E by Michael Genhart, author of Accordionly: Abuelo and Opa Make Music. The picture book, illustrated by three-time Pura Belpré Honor artist John Parra, is about a boy competing in the National Spanish Spelling Bee who learns of his own abuela’s childhood experience when she was banned from speaking Spanish at school. Publication is slated for summer 2023. Author agent: Nicole Geiger at Full Circle Literary. Illustrator agent: Adriana Dominguez and Stefanie Sanchez Von Borstel at Full Circle Literary.

Katherine Harrison at Knopf has acquired at auction world rights to Esperanza Caramelo by Lotería author Karla Arenas Valenti, illustrated by Pura Belpré Honor artist Elisa Chavarri. In the vein of the Nutcracker or Doña Flor, this is a tale of spun-sugar ornaments come to life and cake catastrophe averted on the eve of Nochebuena. Publication is scheduled for fall 2023. Author agent:  Ammi-Joan Paquette at Erin Murphy Literary. Illustrator agent: Claire Easton at Painted Words.

June 3

Christy Ottaviano at Little, Brown/Ottaviano has bought, in an exclusive submission, North American rights to No Going Back by Patrick Flores-Scott, the author’s third YA novel. It’s the Friday after being released from a year of juvenile detention, and biracial Antonio Sullivan is heading home for a fresh start. His parole terms state he can’t drink, can’t break the law, can’t see his father, and he must be on time to meet his parole officer on Monday before school, or else he’s headed back to detention. Antonio has one weekend, one crazy friend, one old flame, and a dad who won’t give up. What could go wrong? The book is set for spring 2023. Author agent: Steven Chudney at the Chudney Agency.

June 8

Luana Kay Horry at HarperCollins has acquired, in a preempt, the early reader graphic novel series Super Serious Mysteries by Josh Crute, illustrated by James Rey Sanchez, in a two-book deal. In the first book, The Untimely Passing of Nicholas Fart: A Who-Dealt-It Mystery, detective-in-training Penelope Whiff must catch the culprit of a very mysterious and stinky crime. The first book is set for summer 2023, and the second for summer 2024. Illustrator agent: Alex Gehringer at the Bright Agency.

Sophia Jimenez at Atheneum has acquired world rights to Veo, Veo, I See You, a picture book by Pura Belpré Award Honoree Lulu Delacre. While out running errands with their mami during the Covid-19 pandemic, Marisol and Pepito play a game of Veo, Veo (I Spy) that helps them see how the workers in their neighborhood are, and will always be, essential. Publication is planned for fall 2023.

Jessica Echeverria at Lee & Low Books has bought world rights to Still Dreaming/Seguimos soñando by Claudia Guadalupe Martínez (Not a Bean), illustrated by Magdalena Mora. This bilingual picture book tells the story of a child wishing for a life without borders after he and his parents are forced to leave their home during the Mexican Repatriation. Along their journey they meet others with similar stories. Publications is slated for fall 2022. Author agent: Adriana Dominguez at Full Circle Literary. Illustrator agent: Steven Malk at Writers House.

June 10

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June 15

Stacey Barney at Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books has bought middle grade debut Rostam and the Red Dwarf by Olivia Abtahi (Pefectly Parvin), a space opera inspired by The Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings, in which 12-year-old Rostam accidentally plunges his entire planet into darkness and must now defeat the demon king Zahhak to save their sun. Publication is slated for spring 2023. Author agent: Jim McCarthy at Dystel, Goderich, & Bourret.

Luana Kay Horry at HarperCollins has bought, in an exclusive submission, world rights to Phenomenal AOC: The Roots and Rise of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, written by Pura Belpré Honor author Anika Aldamuy Denise (Planting Stories) and illustrated by Loris Lora (Legendary Leaders Who Shaped the World). From her earliest days in the Bronx, to her electrifying primary win, to the halls of Congress—the phenom known to her family as Sandy and to the world as AOC proves what’s possible when you speak truth to power and aren’t afraid to shake the table. Publication is slated for fall 2022. Author agent: Emily van Beek at Folio Jr./Folio Literary Management. Illustrator agent: Sally Heflin at Heflinreps.

Janine O’Malley at FSG has acquired world rights to On the Fourth of July by Maggie Rudd in a two-book deal, both illustrated by Pura Belpré Honor artist Elisa Chavarri. This picture book celebrates the joy of being an American on the Fourth of July as the daytime fun of picnics and swimming gives way to wonder and delight at a night of fireworks. Publication is scheduled for spring 2023. Illustrator agent:  Claire Easton at Painted Words

June 17

Luana Kay Horry at HarperCollins has bought world rights, at auction, in a two-book deal, to Abuela’s Super Capa by Ana Siqueira, illustrated by Pura Belpré Honor artist Elisa Chavarri. It’s an intergenerational story about love and remembrance in which Luis and Abuela put on their super capas and save the world, until one day when Abuela must hang up her capa. Publication is slated for winter 2023, and simultaneously in Spanish. Author agent: Andrea Walker at Azantian Literary represented the author while at Olswanger Literary. Illustrator agent:  Claire Easton at Painted Words.

June 22

Anne Heltzel at Abrams has bought debut YA novel Lightlark by Alex Aster (Emblem Island), an untitled sequel, and an untitled graphic novel. Lightlark is a twisty fantasy that features six rulers competing in a high-stakes game set on a lush magical island, with 100 days to break the deadly curses that have plagued their realms for centuries. The first book is set for fall 2022. Author agent: Katelyn Detweiler at Jill Grinberg Literary.

Anna Roberto at Feiwel and Friends has acquired world rights to Painting the Sky with Love by Mary Baca Haque, illustrated by Tatiana Gardel. In this picture book, a child “paints” the sky with love; hearts cascade and bounce down, while people looking up open their hearts to love. Publication is planned for fall 2023. Illustrator agent: Jemiscoe Chambers-Black at Andrea Brown Literary.

June 24

Sophia Jimenez at Atheneum has bought Free to Learn: How Alfredo Lopez Fought for the Right to Go to School by Cynthia Levinson (The Youngest Marcher), a picture book based on the true story of a boy whose family was part of Plyler v. Doe, the Supreme Court case that won access to education for undocumented immigrant children in the U.S., illustrated by Mirelle Ortega (Small Rooms, Big Dreams: The Journey of Julian and Joaquin Castro). Publication is planned for spring 2024. Illustrator agent: James Burns at the Bright Agency.

June 29

Kate Jacobs while at Roaring Brook acquired world rights to Lily and the Other Guy by Shelley Tougas, illustrated by Sara Palacios; Emily Feinberg will edit. Lily is not sure about the new guy her Mom is seeing, and she misses Dad, but with a little patience and humor she learns that having fun with a new step-parent doesn’t mean forgetting Mom or Dad, and that letting someone new into your life means more love all around. Publication is set for summer 2022. Illustrator agent: Minju Chang and Kendra Marcus at BookStop Literary Agency.

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Cecilia Cackley is a Mexican-American playwright and puppeteer based in Washington, DC. A longtime bookseller, she is currently the Children’s/YA buyer and event coordinator for East City Bookshop on Capitol Hill. Find out more about her art at www.ceciliacackley.com or follow her on Twitter @citymousedc

Q&A with Alexandra Alessandri about her new book Isabel and Her Colores Go to School, illus. by Courtney Dawson

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We are an affiliate with Indiebound and Bookshop. If If you make a purchase through these links, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a small commission.

Today, we are chatting with author Alexandra Alessandri about her second picture book, Isabel and Her Colores Go to School, which is illustrated by Courtney Dawson.

The book just released yesterday! HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY!

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First, here is the publisher’s description of the book:

English, with its blustery blues and whites, just feels wrong to Isabel. She prefers the warm oranges and pinks of Spanish. As she prepares for class at a new school, she knows she’s going to have to learn–and she would rather not! Her first day is uncomfortable, until she discovers there’s more than one way to communicate with friends. This is a universal story about feeling new and making new friends.

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Now, here’s some information on the creators:

Alexandra Peñaloza Alessandri is a Colombian American poet, children’s author, and Associate Professor of English at Broward College. She received her BA and MA degrees in English from Florida International University, as well as a Certificate of Fiction from UCLA Extension. Her poetry has appeared in The Acentos Review, Rio Grande Review, YARN, and Atlanta Review, where her poem “Inheritance” was a Finalist in the 2017 International Poetry Competition. She is the author of Feliz New Year, Ava Gabriela! (Albert Whitman, Oct. 2020) and Isabel and Her Colores Go to School (Sleeping Bear Press, Fall 2021).

Alexandra is represented by Deborah Warren of East West Literary Agency. When not writing or teaching, Alexandra spends her time daydreaming, relearning the piano, and planning the next great adventure with her family. She lives in Florida with her husband, son, and hairless pup, dreaming of Colombia.

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Courtney Dawson - Photo by Anthony Dekleine

Courtney Dawson is a children’s book illustrator of many titles including A Vote is a Powerful Thing (Albert Whitman) and The Stars Beckoned (Philomel). She is inspired by the world around her and all of the good in it. Courtney loves to work on projects that are empowering, inclusive, and whimsical. She also loves rainy days and painting to Sam Cooke in her California studio.

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Now, here’s our Q&A with Alexandra:


1. What was your inspiration for this story?

Isabel and Her Colores Go to School was inspired by my own experience of starting kindergarten in New York. We only spoke Spanish at home, and when I started school, I spoke almost no English. My story was a little different—I literally got lost in the hallways of my school because I misunderstood the teacher—but I wanted to channel those feelings into Isabel’s story.

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2. In the story, your character struggles with the first day of school and not knowing the language. What made you decide to incorporate colors, too? (I couldn’t help but think of the song De Colores while reading it.)

I hadn’t listened to “De Colores” since I was a kid! Thank you for this trip down memory lane.

Though I’m not an artist, I love color—the bolder and brighter the better—and I’m also fascinated by the different names for different shades (I love reading the names on paint chips!) When I started brainstorming for Isabel, I didn’t know I would incorporate color this way, but I knew Isabel was an artist, so I started asking myself, What would the different languages sound like to her? What would she associate them with? For her, Spanish would remind her of home, with the green of her mountains, pinks, yellows, and purples of her mami’s flowers, the brilliant blues of nearby rivers. And, because English is foreign—and scary—for her, she would associate it with storms. As I wrote and revised, I worked at strengthening this connection in both a literal and figurative manner.

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3. The story has the Spanish translation right on the pages. Was that part of your original vision for this story, so that Spanish speakers could read and enjoy it, too?

I’ve always wanted to have my stories translated into Spanish, so my family and Spanish speakers could read and enjoy them. For Isabel, though, I wrote and submitted the story in English with Spanish sprinkled in, as it’s what’s most natural for me. It was my brilliant editor Sarah Rockett who suggested having the book as a both an English and Spanish edition. I celebrated! I didn’t realize just how much I yearned for this, and I’m incredibly excited to be able to share this story with English and Spanish speakers.

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4. The artwork on the pages is beautiful. Did you have any input in the art process?

Courtney’s art is just so gorgeous! I love how she got the essence of who Isabel and the other characters are and how she captured the play of colors in the artwork. When I first saw her sketches, I knew the story was in great hands. I did get to see the art in a few parts of the process, like the cover sketches and interior pages, and I was invited to give feedback, which I appreciated. But most of my feedback was just me gushing about the illustrations—Courtney’s art just blew me away!

See for yourself….

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Congratulations to Alexandra and Courtney! Isabel and Her Colores Go to School is now available wherever books are sold. You can quickly find it here at Indiebound or through her publisher, Sleeping Bear Press.

Book Review: A Thousand White Butterflies written by Jessica Betancourt-Perez & Karen Lynn Williams, illus. by Gina Maldonado

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We are an affiliate with Indiebound and Bookshop. If If you make a purchase through these links, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a small commission.

Review by Sanjuana Rodriguez

DESCRIPTION OF THE BOOK: Isabella recently immigrated from Colombia and is starting school midway through the year. But her first day is canceled due to snow, which looks like a thousand white butterflies as it falls. Being new to the United States is hard. Isabella misses Papa, and she’s nervous about making new friends. But snow days are special days–and maybe there’s a new friend waiting after all.

MY TWO CENTS: In the book A Thousand White Butterflies we meet a little girl named Isabella who has moved to the United States from Colombia. The book details her experience of moving to the U.S. while her dad stayed in Colombia. Isabella feels sad and misses her father. She is looking forward to the first day of school and sees it as an opportunity to make new friends. The next day, as she wakes up, she realizes that it is snowing outside and her first day of school in the U.S. will be cancelled. Isabella then sees a little girl playing outside and she decides to join her. Isabella and her new friend have fun playing in the snow, even though they are not able to understand each other.

This book is written for young readers and shares the immigration experiences through the eyes of a child. This book can teach children about the experience of feeling lonely and missing someone. The book is written in a simple way, but it does capture Isabella’s big feelings of sadness, loneliness, and joy. There were two great things that stood out as I read the book. The book features an intergenerational relationship between Isabella and her abuelita. Her abuelita is actually the person who points out that the snow is white “everything is white, so white. Mariposa wings dance in the sky. It looks like a thousand white butterflies.” I also like that there were words in Spanish that were used throughout the story and that these words were not followed by the direct translation of the words. The authors did provide a glossary at the end of the book for readers who are not bilingual.

The illustrations in the book are bright and colorful. The illustrations seem to fit the storyline and capture the complexity of Isabella’s feelings. The illustrations also add to the storyline as they feature important items from Colombia such as the ruana and the sombrero vueltiao. The authors’ note at the end of the book details how the authors met and also tell their own immigration stories. A section titled more info provides information about immigrants in the United States.

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Abby Cooper photo

ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Jessica Betancourt-Perez is originally from Palmira, Colombia, and moved to the USA when she was 15 years old. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Saint Joseph and a master’s degree in School Psychology from Millersville University. She currently works as a school psychologist in a large suburban school district in York, Pennsylvania with children grades 4-6. She speaks English and Spanish fluently and has a passion for advocating for families and children in need. A Thousand White Butterflies is her debut picture book. Jessica lives in Pennsylvania with her family.

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Africa in Our Lives: Karen Lynn Williams – African Studies Program –  UW–Madison

Karen Lynn Williams was born in Connecticut, and received her Master’s degree in deaf education. She has lived in Africa and in Haiti. Karen had an early dream to be one of the youngest published authors, starting a writing club at ten. However, Karen’s published works came later in life, after extensive travels and family experience. Karen’s ability to draw from personal experience and adapt into writing forms for all ages and interests expresses her true gift.

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Gina Maldonado photo

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR: Gina Maldonado is a Colombian illustrator and print designer based in Hong Kong. Her work is inspired by nature and she is passionate about creating colourful and charming illustrations for picture books, games and products for clients all around the world. Gina studied architecture and interior design in Colombia, Mexico, and Italy, but after working as an interior designer for a couple of years, she discovered that her real passion was illustration.

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ABOUT THE REVIEWER: Sanjuana C. Rodriguez is an Assistant Professor of Literacy and Reading Education in the Elementary and Early Childhood Department at Kennesaw State University. Her research interests include the early literacy development of culturally and linguistically diverse students, early writing development, literacy development of students who are emergent bilinguals, and Latinx children’s literature. She has published in journals such as Journal of Language and Literacy Education, Language Arts, and Language Arts Journal of Michigan.

Celebrating 25 Years of the Pura Belpré Award: Book Talk About Doña Flor: A Tall Tale About a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart by Pat Mora, illus. by Raúl Colón

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We are an affiliate with Indiebound and Bookshop. If If you make a purchase through these links, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a small commission.

The Pura Belpré Award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latinx writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.

We will be marking the award’s 25th anniversary in different ways on the blog. Today, Dr. Sonia Rodriguez and Dora M. Guzmán talk about Doña Flor: A Tall Tale About a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart, written by Pat Mora and illustrated by Raúl Colón. The book won the 2006 Pura Belpré Illustration Award. You can find our book talks on our new YouTube channel!

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Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez, PhD is an Associate Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College (CUNY) where she teaches composition, literature, and creative writing. Her academic research focuses on decolonial healing in Latinx children’s and young adult literature. Sonia is a Mellon Emerging Faculty Leader.

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Dora M. Guzmán is a bilingual reading specialist for grades K-5 and also teaches college courses in Children’s Literature and Teaching Beginning Literacy. She is currently a doctoral student with a major in Reading, Language, and Literacy. When she is not sharing her love of reading with her students, you can find her in the nearest library, bookstore, or online, finding more great reads to add to her never-ending “to read” pile!

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