Leaving Glorytown: One Boy’s Struggle Under Castro

Eduardo F. Calcines was a child of Fidel Castro’s Cuba; he was just three years old when Castro came to power in January 1959. After that, everything changed for his family and his country. When he was ten, his family applied for an exit visa to emigrate to America and he was ridiculed by his schoolmates and even his teachers for being a traitor to his country. But even worse, his father was sent to an agricultural reform camp to do hard labor as punishment for daring to want to leave Cuba. During the years to come, as he grew up in Glorytown, a neighborhood in the city of Cienfuegos, Eduardo hoped with all his might that their exit visa would be granted before he turned fifteen, the age at which he would be drafted into the army. In this absorbing memoir, by turns humorous and heartbreaking, Eduardo Calcines recounts his boyhood and chronicles the conditions that led him to wish above all else to leave behind his beloved extended family and his home for a chance at a better future.

Featured in Volume I, Issue 4 of WOW Review.

Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale

Carmen Agra Deedy delivers a deliciously inventive Cuban version of the beloved Martina folktale, complete with a dash of café cubano.

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 something really useful: un consejo increible, some shocking advice.

You want me to do what? Martina gasps.

At first, Martina is skeptical of her Abuela s unorthodox suggestion, but when suitor after suitor fails The Coffee Test, she wonders if a little green cockroach can ever find true love. Soon, only the gardener Pérez, a tiny brown mouse, is left. But what will happen when Martina offers him café Cubano?

After reading this sweet and witty retelling of the Cuban folktale, you ll never look at a cockroach the same way again.

Celia Cruz, Queen of Salsa

Celia Cruz is the Queen of Salsa. She enjoyed singing and sings songs to her siblings when she was younger. In high school, she sang Afro-Cuban rhythms in local clubs. Then she was hired as lead singer for Cuba’s most popular band, La Sonora Matancera, and together they created a new style of Latin dance music. She left Cuba and started her singing career in the United States. She continues to sing over 49 years.creat

The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano

A lyrical biography of a Cuban slave who escaped to become a celebrated poet. Born into the household of a wealthy slave owner in Cuba in 1797, Juan Francisco Manzano spent his early years by the side of a woman who made him call her Mama, even though he had a mama of his own. Denied an education, young Juan still showed an exceptional talent for poetry. His verses reflect the beauty of his world, but they also expose its hideous cruelty.  Powerful, haunting poems and breathtaking illustrations create a portrait of a life in which even the pain of slavery could not extinguish the capacity for hope.

Featured in Volume I, Issue 1 of WOW Review.

Feliz Nochebuena, Feliz Navidad: Christmas Feasts of the Hispanic Caribbean

Maricel E. Presilla takes us on a journey through the history of Christmas in the Hispanic islands. As she describes all of the foods of Christmas Day, she tells us about the peoples from around the world who brought their ingredients and recipes to the table. Presilla gives us carefully tested recipes that allow readers of all ages to join in on the feast.

Children of Cuba

The largest island in the Caribbean, Cuba is a place of mountains and forests, beaches and coral reefs, large cities and quiet villages. Its thriving cultural life has been shaped by the many different groups that have called Cuba home, including native peoples, Spaniards, and Africans. Frank Staub offers readers a clear portrait of what life is like for the children of Cuba.

Oye, Celia!

Illustrations and rhythmic text celebrate the life and music of singer Celia Cruz, as a young fan attends a neighborhood dance party and hears loss, happiness, Latin American culture, and more in her voice and lyrics.