Celia C. Pérez

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Simple and Unassuming: Seeing Myself in the Story of a Bossy Rooster

You never know what it is about a book that an individual reader will connect with. It could be a character’s personality or interests. It could be the setting, a shared home. And sometimes it is something as simple and unassuming as an object. Let’s say, a box. When my...

Revolution Kid Style Now!*: Writing Books (About Kids) That Break the Rules

As someone who writes books about kids who break rules, I keep waiting for it to happen. I’m waiting for the moment when an adult points out that the protagonists in my books are disagreeable troublemakers. These kids lie and sneak. Sometimes they do illegal things. Yes, illegal things. Twelve-year-olds!...

The First Rule of Punk: Celia C. Pérez's 2018 BGHB Fiction & Poetry Honor Speech

I didn’t always know I wanted to write for children. I always knew I loved books, and I knew writing was something I enjoyed, but the idea of writing as work, for an audience, and especially the idea of writing books — which were these things I only ever had...

The Book That Changed My Life: Write What's Missing

It started in seventh grade, the day my best friend brought a beat-up paperback to school and asked me to hold it for her. Garla’s mom was very religious, so at times I found myself keeping stuff for her at my house, things her mother wouldn’t approve of, like her...

Martí's Song for Freedom

When I was a kid, my father installed two gold-painted busts of famous Cubans in our front yard. One was of Antonio Maceo, the Afro-Cuban general who was a leader in the island’s struggle for independence from Spain. The other was of José Martí. Friends would sometimes ask, seeing the...

Review of All the Way to Havana

All the Way to Havanaby Margarita Engle; illus. by Mike CuratoPrimary    Godwin/Holt    40 pages8/17    978-1-62779-642-2    $17.99A contemporary Cuban boy takes readers on a trip across the island as he and his family travel from their home in the country to Havana to visit his new baby cousin “on his zero-year...

Review of Lion Island: Cuba's Warrior of Words

Lion Island: Cuba’s Warrior of Wordsby Margarita EngleMiddle School    Atheneum    163 pp.8/16    978-1-4814-6112-2    $16.99    ge-book ed.  978-1-4814-6114-6    $10.99In this last chapter in her series of verse novels about the struggle “against forced labor in nineteenth-century Cuba” (The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano, rev. 7/06, and...

When Google Translate Gives You Arroz con Mango: Erroneous Español and the Need for #ownvoices

I recently had a Twitter conversation with three writer and librarian colleagues, two of whom are native Spanish speakers, about the use of Spanish in primarily English-language children’s books. The conversation started after one of us wrote about finding incorrect Spanish in a book. Each of us chimed in, able...

Review of ¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z! / 
Olinguito, from A to Z!

¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z! / 
Olinguito, from A to Z!Descubriendo el bosque nublado / Unveiling the Cloud Forestby Lulu Delacre; illus. by the authorPreschool, Primary    Children’s Book Press/Lee & Low    40 pp.2/16    978-0-89239-327-5    $18.95    gIn 2013, a team of scientists discovered a new species, the olinguito, in...

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