The Firefly Letters

A stunning novel in verse by a Newbery Honor-winning author paints a portrait of early women’s right pioneer Frederika Bremer and the journey to Cuba that transformed her life.

See the review at WOW Review, Volume 3, Issue 1

Under The Royal Palms: A Childhood in Cuba

In this companion volume to Alma Flor Ada’s Where the Flame Trees Bloom, the author offers young readers another inspiring collection of stories and reminiscences drawn from her childhood on the island of Cuba. Through those stories we see how the many events and relationships she enjoyed helped shape who she is today. We learn of a deep friendship with a beloved dance teacher that helped sustain young Alma Flor through a miserable year in school. We meet relatives, like her mysterious Uncle Manolo, whose secret, she later learns, is that he dedicated his life to healing lepers. We share the tragedy of another uncle whose spirited personality leads to his love of flying…and the crash that takes his life. Heartwarming, poignant, and often humorous, this collection encourages children to discover the stories in their our own lives — stories that can help inform their own values and celebrate the joys and struggles we all share no matter where or when we grew up.

Join the discussion of Under the Royal Palms as well as other books by Alma Flor Ada in Margarita Engle on our My Take/Your Take page.

Martina Una Cucarachita Muy Linda / Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: Un Cuento Cubano / A Cuban Folktale

Carmen Agra Deedy delivers this retelling of the Cuban folkltale. Martina the beautiful cockroach doesn’t know coffee beans about love and marriage. That’s where her Cuban family comes in. While some of the Cucarachas offer her gifts to make her more attractive, only Abuela, her grandmother, gives her really useful advice.

Fitting In

Written with deep understanding and compassion, these are the bittersweet tales of young Cuban immgrants adjusting to life in the United States as they cross the threshold into young womanhood.

I’m Just Like My Mom; I’m Just Like My Dad/ Me parezco tanto a mi mama; Me parez

I’m just like my mom.
Me parezco tanto a mi mamá.

I’m just like my dad.
Me parezco tanto a mi papá.

With Akemi Gutiérrez’s charming illustrations, renowned journalist Jorge Ramos explores the many ways in which all children are just like their parents—in two languages!

Junto con las simpáticas ilustraciones de Akemi Gutiérrez, el respetado periodista Jorge Ramos explora las varias maneras en que los hijos se parecen a sus padres. ¡Y lo hace en dos idiomas!

My Ocean: A Novel of Cuba

After his grandparents emigrate, 12-year-old Enrique heads for the ocean, a source of comfort and solace. Why did they flee Cuba, leaving Enrique and his mother behind? Should they go, too? If not, will they, like so many others, be seen as disloyal? The sea has no answers for the boy. As the years pass, Enrique is invited to become a Pioneer, a special honor that bodes well for his future, but it means he’s forbidden from reading the letters his grandparents send home. Enrique wants to belong, to show that he’s deserving of the honor, and once again, he seeks the ocean’s solace. Once again, the ocean has no easy answers. Still, life goes on. There are games with his friends, swimming expeditions, girls to hang out with. And always, there’s the ocean, a place he can go in good times and bad as he tries to make sense of what the future holds for him, his family, and many other Cubans.

Oloyou (Libro Tigrillo)

Oloyou the Cat, the very first creature that the God-child creates, is also the very first friend. God-child and Oloyou play together for hours on end, until one day the cat falls into the void and lands in the dark, featureless, sea kingdom of ferocious Okún Aró. Oloyou is terribly lonely until he meets Aró’s mermaid daughter and falls madly in love. Infuriated, the father flings the pair into the heavens, where they become an everlasting part of the night sky. This imaginative tale, sparked by the author’s mesmerizing text, is the perfect introduction to the vibrant Santería/Yoruba culture.

Dance, Nana, Dance / Baila, Nana, Baila: Cuban Folktales In English And Spanish

If you travel to Cuba, the people will greet you with a smile. Right away they’ll want you to come to their home and eat a meal. In the meal, you’ll find a mixture of foods and flavors from Spain and Africa-and from many Caribbean cultures as well. In Cuban folktales, you will taste the same delicious mixture of flavors.Folklorist and storyteller Joe Hayes first visited Cuba in 2001. He fell in love with the island and its people and began to look for opportunities to meet and listen to Cuban storytellers and to share the stories he knew from the American Southwest. He has returned every year, establishing a rich cultural exchange between US and Cuban storytellers. Out of that collaboration came this savory collection of Cuban folktales, which Joe frames with an introduction and an all-important Note to Storytellers.Joe Hayes is one of America’s premier storytellers. His bilingual Spanish-English tellings have earned him a distinctive place among America’s storytellers. Joe has published over twenty books. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and travels extensively throughout Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.Mauricio Trenard Sayago was born in Santiago de Cuba in 1963. He was raised in a home that was closely linked with art and was surrounded by the artistic debates sustained by the various artists and art history professors in his family. This environment strongly influenced him. Mauricio came to the United States in 2000, and now lives in Brooklyn.

Flight to Freedom

In Flight to Freedom, Anna Veciana-Suarez brings us Yara, an eighth-grader who lives in a middle-class neighborhood of 1967 Havana, Cuba. Her parents, who do not share the political beliefs of the Communist party, finally are forces to flee Cuba with their children to Miami, Florida. There, Yara records in her diary the difficulties she encounters in a strange land with foreign customs. She must learn English and go to school with new children. Her parents also adjust to the new country differently, and Yara’s father grows frustrated with her mother when she becomes more independent.

Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba

Daniel has escaped Nazi Germany with nothing but a desperate dream that he might one day find his parents again. But that golden land called New York has turned away his ship full of refugees, and Daniel finds himself in Cuba. As the tropical island begins to work its magic on him, the young refugee befriends a local girl with some painful secrets of her own. Yet even in Cuba, the Nazi darkness is never far away . . .

See the review at WOW Review, Volume 3, Issue 2