Enrique Flores-Galbis: Bridge of Words

paperback coverAs part of our series on Cuban-American authors, we present an excerpt from a work in progress by Enrique Flores-Galbis, author of the novel 90 Miles to Havana.


One last trip to the well.

I grew up in a house of stories—shared memories, recounted with passion and intensity by those afraid that if they didn’t get their accounts across, the worlds and lives they left behind would disappear, and they would be truly dispossessed.

As a writer I have drawn from these exile stories and benefited from the longing and beauty of their telling, especially those told by my grandmother.

Abuela was the voice of our house. During the day she would sit in her room with the door open. This way, she could track the comings and goings of our large, unruly family, and then broadcast her narratives into the open space at the center of our tall house.

At four in the afternoon she brewed her coffee, rich and strong—the old school way. An old jelly jar, with an embossed design of grape leaves caught the drops of the black liquid oozing from the bottom of the cloth funnel. Stirring two tiny spoonfuls of sugar into her espresso cup she would murmur, “Just enough to sweeten the ninety miles I have to cross,” and then go to her room and close the door.

She would sit in her chair, cup hovering, staring out over the tops of the bare winter trees and then leave. Her body might have been slowly rocking in the chair, but she was gone— she had left the room.

Abuela was a dreamer. She could transcend her self-imposed double exile in Connecticut and return to her home on Obispo street, in Old Havana, at will.

One day, before she closed her door, I asked her, “Abuela, where do you go when you leave?”

Sensing that I was vaguely aware of her travels, she smiled and said, “Havana, of course. Where else would I go?”

It was about this time that our daily ritual of coffee, stories, and my induction into the legion of exile dreamers began.


Art by Enrique Flores Galbis

Abuela’s stories always started at the large carved doors of her house on Obispo St. and most of them took place on the same day, the day before her world changed. A sip of coffee, a sigh, and she would begin to describe the doors, the blaring light on the buildings, the hushed blue shadows, and the smell from the chocolate shop on the corner. Each detail, a new strand she would weave into her delicate bridge of words. I listened patiently, closely, until the words disappeared, until only their echoes, the images, remained. And then I too crossed the ninety miles of dark water on her bridge of words.

This, the last story she told me, explained her beginnings as a dreamer and led me to the realization that she was just one of many exiles who dreamed their way back to Havana every day.

“The gallego carpenter carved little cat-like creatures among the leaves and berries at the bottom of the doors where only a child would notice. Those big doors opened into a courtyard paved with smooth grey stones, dug up from the Bay of Biscayne and brought as ballast on the first ships. I always kept my windows open so that I could feel the eternal chill of the grey stones and hear the watery song of the fountain in the middle of the courtyard.

“Every day I was left all alone in that room for my afternoon siesta. I never told anyone before, but as long as I can remember, I wished I had a twin, a girl twin, someone I could whisper my secrets to. Then one day she appeared in my siesta dream. I don’t know how it happened, but there she was, just as real as you are right now. The next day I waited for her, but she did not come back.

“Now I was lonelier than ever before, but determined to bring her back. After all, if I dreamed her once I was sure that I could dream her again. So, one siesta at a time, I began to recreate her, to will her back from my memory.

“I don’t remember how long it took or how old I was when I fully willed her into being, but I do remember the first time she entered my room, she brought the songs of the caged birds as a gift.

“We would lie side by side, barely creasing starched pillowcases, holding hands as we slipped out of this world. In that hour of underwater quiet we were free to roam to places unthinkable at any other time. We tore down walls and burst through gates erected to keep a young girl’s imagination cloistered and safe. We created new worlds and then tossed them back and forth until one of us succeeded in fleshing out a vivid scenario, always reserving a place for the other on our dream stage.

“One day, as I walked to my room for my siesta, there was a loud knock on the big doors. I stopped by the fountain.

“The cook, irritated by the interruption, stepped out of the kitchen and stomped across the courtyard. He nudged the door open only a crack, ready to dismiss the beggar or vendor that had so rudely disturbed his preparation of the evening meal.

“The cook hesitated and then took a step back. As the door swung open, the afternoon light sliced into the shady courtyard. Then the cook, a haughty, serious man, did something that I had never seen him do before. He bowed deeply as a small woman, not much older than myself, walked boldly past him. She stopped at the very tip of the shaft of light as if she wanted me to look at her— to see her fully.

“She had high cheekbones and very small dark eyes. Her sun-darkened skin was a rich ochre, the color of the earth in Matanzas. She seemed to be a perfectly balanced mixture of every race that had ever set foot in the Caribbean.

“She slowly stepped toward me and began to recite details from my secret dream lives, descriptions of places my twin and I had traveled to, places only an intimate of our dreams would know.

“’Have we met?’ I asked.

“ ‘Yes, in your siestas. You left a window open,’ she said in a soft conspiratorial tone.

“I immediately understood what she meant. My dreams were open and inviting. I always left room for my twin and, I realized, they were open to all dreamers.

“It didn’t take me long to see that Uva was my guardian-angel. She had come to teach me about the art of dreams, as she called it, always insisting on the importance of her calling, because shared dreams have the power to affect reality.

“Over time the numbers of dreamers grew, but in exile our once sweet dream turned into a bitter, dark cloud casting its half century shadow on our island.

“Now there are not many of us left and I’m too tired to carry on.

“It is time for this dream to end, so that the new one can begin.”

Good bye, Abuela.


Flores GalbisEnrique Flores Galbis is a painter, teacher, lecturer, and novelist. He immigrated to the United States from Cuba at age nine. As a writer, he is best known for the Pura Belpré Honor Book 90 Miles to Havana. His first novel, Raining Sardines,  (Roaring Brook Press 2007)a recipient of America’s Award Author Honors. Learn more about his art and writing on his professional website. Go here to view an illustrated reading by the author from his award-winning novel.

About that Embargo: Nancy Osa and Margarita Engle

Library Shelves YA

The End of the Cuba “Embargo” in YA Lit

By Nancy Osa

In the late 1990s, I wrote a young-adult novel about a teenager who protests the United States–Cuba trade embargo and sent it out to major publishers. I may have set a record for rejection letters. No children’s publisher dared broach the subject of U.S.-Cuba politics—not even from a humanitarian perspective. I’ll wager that such a reticent attitude is about to die. Soon, all things “Cuba” will be the next hot topics to follow zombies and vampires.

The true theme of my book, though, was not Cuba’s worthiness of respectful neighborly relations but rather Americans’ right to challenge policy through peaceful protest. Which topic were publishers really shying away from? In the 1990s, acts of dissent had been appropriated and/or stigmatized by publicity-hungry groups—Million Man March, anti-WTO factions, abortion clinic terrorists. Exposing teens to international politics, publishing interests seemed to surmise, might only incite high schoolers to riot.

I argued that young American readers should understand their options for agreeing or disagreeing with their homeland’s diplomatic policies. Information, discussion, and even provocation are necessary elements to learning to think critically. Simply ignoring the far-reaching trade and travel restrictions was a disservice to maturing readers, who, by their nature, are quite open to efforts to make the world a better place. When I was 10 years old, for instance, I formed a club and held a fundraiser to buy a trash can for my local park. On the heels of that success, I embraced various causes: women’s rights, resource conservation, humane treatment of animals, etc. When I reached voting age, I voted, marched, petitioned my legislators, and canvassed door-to-door. Not until my thirties did I think deeply about my Cuban heritage, though, and the implications of our national policies to my personal and cultural relationships. I wondered what it would have been like to grow up informed and in touch with my relatives on the island, instead of ignorant and forcibly separated. This was the impetus for writing my book.

When I submitted my novel to publishers, I knew that many young readers would welcome my story about an American girl who joins a protest rally to improve conditions for her family members in Cuba. I couched the topic in typical high-school drama, with a large dose of humor. It wasn’t vitriolic or pointedly critical of any one faction. Still, mainstream publishing houses, librarians, book buyers, and teachers were afraid to raise the hot-button Cuba issue. I suspect they were equally put off by the topic of protest. That book was never published, but another novel about a traditional coming-of-age ceremony—the quinceañero—was. Both Cuba 15books used humor to engage readers in a debate about factionalism: kids vs. parents, traditionalists vs. progressives . . . America vs. Cuba. The book that focused on dresses vs. pants, however, won out over the one that more literally discussed right vs. wrong.

As we face a new relationship between the U.S. and Cuba, I’d like to remind readers and thinkers that people like me have been politely protesting the political stand-off for decades. Twenty-fifteen marks the twenty-third year that the group IFCO/Pastors for Peace has practiced civil disobedience by gathering and delivering goods to Cuban people in need. Communist partisanship is not the motivator; charitable sentiment is.

As someone whose birth was sandwiched between the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion and the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, I have always felt helpless to influence U.S.-Cuba relations politically. But when I joined a Pastors for Peace “Friendshipment,” I gained the power to positively affect Cubans on a personal level while protesting the trade embargo. Does this type of humanitarian overture influence diplomacy? I hope so; but no one has suggested that it prompted President Obama’s executive decision to restore diplomatic ties with Cuba. Let’s face it: peaceful protest does not make for sexy news stories. First Amendment rights of free speech, assembly, and freedom of the press, though, should be considered fitting fodder in young-adult literature.

Nancy OsaNancy Osa is the author of Cuba 15 (Random House), a Pura Belpré Honor Book and winner of the Delacorte Press Prize for a First Young Adult Novel. Her most recent work, Defenders of the Overworld (Sky Pony Press), is an unofficial Minecraft fiction series for young-adult readers. To learn more, visit her website.



Enchanted AirThe Magic Realism of Memory

By Margarita Engle

The great Cuban poet Dulce María Loynaz wrote a poem called En Mi Verso Soy Libre—In My Poem I Am Free. She spoke of rising up inside the poem, where she is herself. The same is true for me. I reveal my secret self inside the covers of my verse memoir, Enchanted Air, Two Cultures, Two Wings.

Even though I am my true self on those pages, now that the book has been published and can be read by strangers, I’ve begun to wonder if I will be misunderstood or disbelieved. My childhood seems so unusual, almost surrealistic. I’m neither an exile nor a refugee. Until 1960, my family traveled back and forth between Cuba and the U.S., ignoring the Cold War.

The question arises: is a surrealistic childhood typical for the children of immigrants? Yes, I believe it is, even without the international conflict that separated the two halves of my bicultural family. Visiting relatives in another country can be an incredible joy, but upon returning to the U.S., a child of mixed ancestry can feel disoriented. In that sense, my unusual story is common, because the same could be said for children who move back and forth between two homes within the same country, particularly if their parents live in different cities, or if one lives in an urban area, and the other is rural. Immersed in blended memories, these children may experience the insecurity of feeling uncertain where they belong, but by traveling they also gain insights into more than one way of existing. Perhaps exposing them to verse memoirs will give them a window into their own possibilities. They could write travel memoirs, too. They could write poetry! They could find a safe home-on-the-page for overwhelming emotions.

Telling stories

Margarita and her sister in Cuba

During my teen years, it was easier for a U.S. citizen to walk on the moon than to visit relatives in Cuba. Nothing can ever return those years to me intact. They are fractured. Yet somehow, the act of writing about them in verse felt medicinal. Poetry heals. In the author’s note at the end of Enchanted Air, I came out of the anti-Embargo closet, making a plea for normalization of U.S.-Cuba diplomatic relations, travel, and trade. Then, as if in a dream, President Obama announced the first steps toward improved relations. The announcement came during the same week when advanced review copies of Enchanted Air arrived on my doorstep. Joyfully, I revised the author’s note, transforming my plea into a song of gratitude.

With equally dreamlike timing, the U.S. Embassy in Havana re-opened exactly ten days after the release of Enchanted Air. For me, this feels like an era of miracles. Nevertheless, the process of healing the rift between nations will be complex, just as the process of facing childhood emotions to write a memoir is not simple. In Just Write, Walter Dean Myers advised: “I believe your skills as a writer are not so much defined by intelligence or artistic ability as they are by how much of yourself you are willing to bring to the page. Be brave.”

Yes, be brave. There is no other way to face the wounded child inside one’s own mind—a child who never completely outgrows the magic realism of growing up with a memory that contains two distinct ways of perceiving the world. A memory that can turn into verse, where a divided childhood can be made whole, setting the poet free.

MargaritaMargarita Engle is the author of many books for young readers. Her long list of literary honors includes the Pura Belpré Medal, the Newbery Honor and the 2014 PEN USA. The themes and characters of Margarita’s books often reflect her Cuban heritage, including the titles pictured below. Learn much more on her official website.

Margarita offers an abundant selection of books based in Cuba or featuring Cuban characters, as seen below.

MountainDog.highrescvr  drum dream girl cover  Tropical Secret   The Wild Book  Surrende Tree Notable  Poet Slave  Hurricane dancers notable  Firefly notable  Enchanted Air









Growing Up Cuban: Laura Lacámara and Meg Medina

Photo of me & blond girls from class

My Cuban Evolution

By Laura Lacámara

Growing up Cuban-American in suburban Southern California, I teetered back and forth between feeling different, like I didn’t belong, and feeling exotic and special.

The feeling different part came mostly when I was little.

We spoke Spanish at home, while all my friends spoke English.

We ate lechón (roast pork), black beans, and plantains on Christmas eve (nochebuena), instead of turkey, stuffing, and yams on Christmas night.

Then, there was that same embarrassing question asked by all my friends who came over to the house: “Why are your parents fighting?”

“They are not,” I would respond, “they are just talking about what they want for dinner.”

In high school, being Cuban meant getting an easy “A” in Spanish. By the end of high school, being a Spanish-speaking Cuban had gone from totally embarrassing to super cool. I was the “exotic” one among my group of white suburban friends. (I knew I wasn’t really exotic, but I didn’t contradict them because I liked feeling special!)

Me on hood of carFinally, in college, came exploring my roots, and ultimately embracing (and being proud of!) my Cuban-American identity.

Of course, the whole Cuban roots and identity thing comes with the inevitable responsibility to comment on Fidel Castro.

So, when asked that obligatory question by my white, non-Cuban friends: “Don’t you think it’s great that Castro’s revolution has given every Cuban citizen access to a pair of shoes and an education?”

Rather than launching into a big political discussion about the whole embargo thing (which I am totally in favor of lifting, by the way), I now offer the following joke:

“Comrades, what are the three great successes of the revolution? Healthcare, education, and sports. What are the three failures? Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”

Politics aside, being Cuban remains a very personal thing for me. Sometimes it has felt like missing pieces I can only catch glimpses of here and there, but never quite own.

As a Cuban-American author writing stories inspired by growing up in my Cuban family, I’ve been able to explore some of these pieces and the quality of what Cuba, or being Cuban means to me.

Yes, I have lived in the U.S. most of my life, and I can express myself (verbally and on paper) better in English than in Spanish.

But, deep-down, that Spanish-speaking part of me, the one that finds “home” in a plate of black beans and rice with a slice of my mom’s homemade flan, will always be Cubana!

Dalia Cover    Floating

Laura_photo_2015-300 dpiCuban-born Laura Lacámara is the award-winning author and illustrator of Dalia’s Wondrous Hair / El cabello maravilloso de Dalia (Piñata Books), a bilingual picture book about a clever girl who transforms her unruly hair into a vibrant garden.

Laura also wrote Floating on Mama’s Song / Flotando en la canción de mamá, a bilingual picture book inspired by her mother, who was an opera singer in Havana. Illustrated by Yuyi Morales and published by HarperCollins, Floating on Mama’s Song was a Junior Library Guild Selection for Fall 2010 and was a Tejas Star Book Award Finalist for 2011-2012.

You can learn more about Laura’s work at her official website.


Cheeseburger by Day, Guayaba by Night

Juan Medina and LIdia Metauten wedding_NEW copy

Meg Medina’s parents at their wedding

By Meg Medina

My parents left Cuba as part of the political exodus in the early sixties. I was the first person in my family born in the United States. I learned Spanish from my mother and English from Romper Room. I grew up biculturally: Cheeseburger by day, guayaba by night, so to speak. All to say that I find that I am Cuban to Americans. To Cubans, I am from the US.

When I consider Cuba, I can only rely on black and white photos and on dreamlike stories – perhaps even the obsessions – of my family. I cut my teeth listening to yarns about a place where you wore only a sweater in the winter, where mangos the size of softballs were heavy with sweetness. It was a place of rivers and beautiful ocean waters where you could see your toes. It was the place of tobacco on their fingertips, a place where my family was happiest and the place that broke their hearts.

Image 7

Two of Meg’s relatives on the streets of Havana

My own memories are these: Months of waiting for letters to arrive on thin airmail paper and my aunt’s voice reading the words aloud. A box of old photographs that arrived decades later, the images bored through by insects, and how those photos made my old mother cry. The odd catch in my chest when I see how dire need somehow got recycled into kitschy tourists waving from the seats of classic American cars.

People often ask: “Have you been to Cuba?”

I have never set foot on the island, but in a way, I have been there every day of my life. But how do we talk about Cuba as phantom limb? And, more important, how do we knit ourselves back together – los de aquí y los de allá – and move forward in search of new and better times?

 MANGO_jacket_for_Meg  Tia Isa

ad6df-yaquiMeg Medina is an award-winning Cuban American author who writes picture books, middle grade, and YA fiction.

She is the 2014 recipient of the Pura Belpré medal and the 2013 CYBILS Fiction winner for her young adult novel, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass. She is also the 2012 Ezra Jack Keats New Writers medal winner for her picture book Tia Isa Wants a Car.

Photo credit: Petite Shards Productions

Petite Shards Productions

Her most recent picture book, Mango, Abuela, and Me, a Junior Library Guild Selection, has earned starred reviews in Booklist and Publishers Weekly, and  is included in the 2015 American Booksellers Association’s Best Books for Young Readers Catalog.

Meg’s other books are The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind, a 2012 Bank Street Best Book and CBI Recommended Read in the UK; and Milagros: Girl From Away.

Read a wonderful write-up on the Cuban inspiration of Meg’s newest book, Mango, Abuela and Me, at her blog, where you can also find information on her speaking schedule and much more.

Alma Flor Ada: Always Cuban


Island Treasures FINAL ART“Yo soy un hombre sincero

  de donde crece la palma…”

   –José Martí

During most of my life I have lived outside of Cuba, as part of the Cuban Diaspora, yet my being continues to be rooted in the fertile island where I was born and where I lived as a child, an adolescent, and a young woman.

AFA with braids

Alma Flor

In 1958, during the Batista dictatorship, my father’s dream of helping low-income families own their own homes was thwarted when the soldiers who had bought some of the accessible yet solid houses he had built with such care, refused to make their mortgage payments. Trying to find a solution, my father met with the garrison’s commander. Instead of support, he received a frightening threat that led us to flee to Miami.

At that time, Miami did not have the Latino presence it has today. As I wanted to study Spanish and Latin-American literature, I begged to go study in Mexico City. I was fascinated by the artistic and literary achievements of post-Revolutionary Mexico. However, my parents did not feel comfortable sending me to a country where we knew no one. Instead, they suggested I go to Spain, where my mother had relatives.

Spain became the third country where I lived. While the Franco regime imposed many limitations, I was immensely fortunate to be mentored by some extraordinary professors, Elena Catena, don Alonso Zamora Vicente, and doña María Josefa Canellada, who helped channel my thirst for learning. I will always be grateful for their teaching and their example.

A set of unexpected circumstances led me to Perú, which became the fourth country where I lived. In Cuba, I had delighted in being my parents’ daughter; in Perú I became a mother. In Cuba, I had absorbed my family’s commitment to education; in Perú, I became a teacher. In Cuba, I had learned the key role of education in striving for social justice; in Perú, I studied Paulo Freire’s words and became actively concerned with social issues.

While in Perú, I finished my doctorate degree. The topic of my dissertation led to an appointment as a research scholar at Harvard. There I experienced an exciting cultural milieu comprised of distinguished authors and artists who had left Spain after the Spanish Civil War, including the poet Jorge Guillen. Later, after two years in Lima, I returned to the United States with my children and became involved in several grassroots movements on behalf of social justice and education.

Each of these four countries left a profound imprint on me, as I learned to understand their different worldviews, to enjoy their colors and fragrances, and to love their people. I also learned to rebel against the unjust social conditions suffered by many in each of these places, and also, to admire the resilience, fortitude and creativity of the majority of the people I met, wherever I lived. But always, as the backdrop to all these life experiences, my memories of Cuba continued to nourish my deepest soul.


Alma Flor in teen years

As a child, some of my best friends were trees. In the large overgrown gardens of the old historical house where I was born, many different kinds of living creatures inspired me to learn to observe and respect nature. Our colonial city was a microcosm of the larger world; there I learned to listen to those around me and reflect on what I heard. From my family, I learned the values of caring and compassion; kindness and generosity; friendship, knowledge, and justice.

The overgrown gardens have expanded and today I consider the whole planet my home. I continue to marvel at its richness and diversity, including the daily miracles of flower petals and bird feathers. I especially attempt to not remain indifferent to any human experience. Yet, no matter how far my circle of interest may expand, I never feel far from my roots; on the contrary, it is through being nurtured by them, that I can open my heart to everything else.

I learned about immigration from my own family. Both of my grandfathers had immigrated to Cuba from Spain. They each made great efforts to contribute to their new homeland and to defend freedom of thought. My maternal grandfather, Medardo Lafuente Rubio, used his talents for self-expression as a poet, public speaker, educator, and journalist to promote universal human values. During the despotic dictatorship of Machado, he was incarcerated for defending freedom in his newspaper. His time in prison greatly damaged his health and he died not long after his eventual release. My paternal grandfather owned a newspaper and also one of the earliest radio stations in Cuba. His words, whether written or spoken, always defended the value of free independent thinking that had been crushed in his county of birth by Franco’s dictatorship.

My grandmother on her graduation as a teacher

AFA’s grandmother at graduation from teaching school.

My maternal grandmother, Dolores Salvador, was the strongest influence in my life. Losing her when I was very young filled me with profound nostalgia. In response to the pain of this loss, I sought to protect and nurture my memories of her, as one would a tender plant. And thus I became a storyteller, sharing my stories again and again, sometimes orally, other times in writing, often in silence.

The feelings arising from my own experiences have inspired much of my writing. Even one of my more recent books, Love, Amalia, co-authored with my son Gabriel Zubizarreta, is rooted in the memory of losing my grandmother. Another source of inspiration has been the desire to continue to savor my own children’s childhood.


AFA’s grandmother, surrounded by her children




I often remind teachers to encourage children to write, as each child has a unique perspective to share. I am very grateful to an editor of The Hungry Mind who many years ago, asked me to contribute one real-life childhood story for his publication. In response, I wrote my first three real-life stories and submitted them to him. He told me kindly that, while he could only publish one, he wanted to encourage me to write a few more. And thus, Where the Flame Trees Bloom was born.

It took the additional encouragement of my dear friend Antonio Martorell, an inspired artist and illustrator, to continue writing the childhood memoirs that became Under the Royal Palms, and which received the Pura Belpré Medal in 2000. More recently, when Simon & Schuster decided to re-print both of these books under one cover, Emma Ledbetter, my supportive editor, welcomed the idea of also including some new stories from my growing-up years in Cuba. Thus Island Treasures has come to be.

Flame TreesRoyal Palms

Like the mountain springs in Tope de Collantes, in Cuba, whose currents of clear cool water never stop running, all of our memories hold an endless number of sensations, feelings, faces, flavors, aromas, textures, and emotions, if only we are willing to turn inward, to welcome and honor them in some way. It is my hope that as I share my stories with you in Island Treasures, your own awareness of the people who have enriched your life and the moments that have helped shape who you are, will deepen. May you welcome and value your own stories as an intrinsic part of who you are, dear reader, while also rejoicing in who you have become.


Alma Flor AdaAlma Flor Ada has written countless books, most of which do not specify Cuban settings or characters, but which nearly always highlight Latino life. She is an author, educator, scholar, and internationally known speaker. Her life’s work includes advocacy for peace and social justice. A Pro­fes­sor Emerita at the Uni­ver­sity of San Fran­cisco, she is also a for­mer Rad­cliffe Scholar at Har­vard Uni­ver­sity and Ful­bright Research Scholar.

In the world of children’s books, Alma Flor is known for her poetry, narratives, folk­lore and non-fic­tion. She’s the recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Christo­pher Medal, the Pura Bel­pré Medal, the International Latino Book Award, and the Vir­ginia Hamil­ton Award, in recognition of her body of work for children. Learn more at her official website.



Welcome to Cuba Week!


Cuba PearlCuba has been very much on our minds during this year of momentous change and emotional headlines. In a gesture of love and great hope for the Cuban people on both sides of the Straits of Florida, we invited beloved Cuban American children’s writers to speak from their hearts about anything relating to cubanismo. Lucky us: eight authors responded to our invitation with ¡claro que sí!

Guest posts begin tomorrow and continue through next Monday. To whet your appetite, here are some details. You will hear about immigration journeys, life across two cultures, racial identity, remembrances of the Cuba left behind, and the books that sprang from these experiences. Get ready for gorgeous prose from Enrique Flores Galbis; a fresh challenge to publishers from Nancy Osa; nostalgia mixed with humor and biting reality from Guinevere Thomas, Meg Medina, Laura Lacámara, and Christina Díaz González; as well as stirring insights from award-winning poets Alma Flor Ada and Margarita Engle. These authors’ books have enriched young people’s reading lives. For that, and for the perspectives they’ve shared with us, we want to say ¡gracias de todo corazón!

Before we get started on the guest posts, here’s a visual reminder of some glorious children’s books that star Cuban characters and/or settings. Space prevents us from featuring a comprehensive list, but we urge you to add your recommendations in the comments section. To learn more about individual books, click on their cover mages.

Picture Books    

Goodbye Havana Queen of Salsa Martina Mango in Hand

Celia Bossy Gallito Tia Isa  Dalia Cover MANGO_jacket_for_Meg drum dream girl cover floating


Island Treasures FINAL ART The Red Umbrella  Oye Celia  Moving Target  My Havana The Wild Book  MountainDog.highrescvr  paperback cover

Young Adult

Cubanita  Tropical Secret    Hurricane dancers notable  Firefly notable  Cuba 15  Down to the Bone   Letters to my mother   Significant Girls  ad6df-yaqui  Surrende Tree Notable  Lightning Dreamer notable  Enchanted Air Poet Slave Dark Dude