Tag Archives: Puerto Rico

Juliet Takes A Breath

Written by: Gabby Rivera

Cover Art by: Cristy C. Road

For ages: YA Book

Language: English

Topics Covered: LGBTQ, Queer Theory, Racism, White Feminism, Growing Up, Relationships, Family, Love.

Summary: Ya’all this book is SO IMPORTANT.  Juliet is a young Puerto Rican woman on her way to the internship of her dreams.  All she has to do is come out to her entire family at her going away dinner and then hop on a plane.  Once in Portland Oregon, this Bronx girl gets the culture shock of a lifetime.  Hippies, White Feminism, learning how to be both an intern and away from her girlfriend for the entire summer-it’s a doozy.  Juliet is able to take the time to get to know herself, navigate growing up and getting a crash course in queer theory politics takes up most of her time.  Not to mention there’s dealing with the emotional fallout of a mother who thinks her sexuality is just a phase, and getting to know the very cute librarian Kira during her research as well.

This book is something everyone can relate to.  Having a book that centers queer brown voices is something that youths today need.  It openly calls out racism found within white feminism, and how it permeates every space.  Juliet learns a lot about the world, her place in it, and how sometimes running away isn’t going to solve things.  Juliet wrestles with emotions, long-distance relationships, and idolizing mentors that don’t turn out to be exactly what she expected.  Everyone should read this!!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

5b05dd521e00007d038e66b1Gabby Rivera’s critically acclaimed debut novel Juliet Takes a Breath was called “f*cking outstanding” by Roxane Gay and will be published in hardcover for the first time in fall 2019 by a new publisher. Gabby has also written in the Lumberjanes universe for Boom! Studios. Her latest short story O.1 can be found in Victor LaValle’s recent anthology A People’s Future of the United States. Gabby is currently working on her next novel.

When not writing, Gabby speaks on her experiences as a queer Puerto Rican from the Bronx, an LGBTQ youth advocate, and the importance of centering joy in narratives as Latinx people and people of color at events across the country.

Gabby is signed with the LAVIN agency speakers’ bureau. She’s represented by Jo Volpe and Devin Ross at New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc.

Gabby Rivera is so damn thankful she was able to finish this book. She wants queer brown girls to see themselves everywhere and to be proud of who they are. Gabby was a nerdburger who always wrote in journals, on stray napkins, and even on her sneakers when it was cool to do that. She’s been published in anthologies and journals put together by other radical, creative folks who also see a world that strays far from the mythic norm. Gabby has worked with Autostraddle for almost five years. In that time, she’s written about feminism, kissing girls, Nicki Minaj, radical politics and falling in love with queer brown communities. She is currently the Youth Programs Manager at GLSEN and is developing their National Student Council and curriculums for GSAs across the country. She’s fostered other LGBTQ youth groups and taught as a multi-media artist for organizations such as the DreamYard Project. She’s gonna write more books, y’all. Please read them. It’s very important. Be on the lookout for her latina punk band sci-fi epic, Supermoon. Coming some time in the distant but gorgeous future.

cristy-roadCristy C. Road is a Cuban-American artist, writer, and musician. Through visual art, storytelling, and punk rock music, C.Road has thrived to testify the beauty of the imperfect since she began creating art in her hometown of Miami, FL. She grew up as a self-taught figure drawing artist with a penchant for all things that questioned society and began publishing Green’Zine in 1997– a fanzine which was originally devoted to the punk rock group, Green Day. Merging with the anti-authoritarian intentions of the punk rock community, the zine transformed into a manifesto about being a queer Latina abuse survivor, and her journey towards self-acceptance. Her preferred visual art mediums are Micron Ink pens, Chartpak markers, acrylic paint, Gel Pens, white-out, (and sometimes Photoshop). While taking both writing and visual elements to a more serious level, her diagram of lifestyle and beliefs remain in tune to the Greenzine’s foundations.

C.Road graduated from the the Ringling School of Art and Design in 2004 with a BFA in Illustration, in order to support her ambition to eventually teach. Although, at a private art school in a red state, she was fairly infamous, as the punk feminist who changed her legal name to a Green Day song and spent most of her time protesting the representation of gender and race in art. Now, C.Road has almost 20 years of independent publishing under her belt, along with years of creating countless illustrations for a slew of magazines, record albums, event posters, and social justice organizations; as well as years of teaching through workshops, proffesorships, and lectures across the nation.

In early 2006, C.Road released her first illustrated novel, Indestructible (Microcosm Publishing), a 96-page narrative about high school. In 2008, she released Bad Habits (Soft Skull Press), an Illustrated story about healing from abuse; and lastly in 2013, her most recent book, Spit and Passion (Feminist Press, 2012), a coming-out memoir about Cuban identity, discovering Green Day, and survivng in the closet. C.Road’s most recent project is The Next World Tarot (2017), a 78-card tarot deck detailing themes of justice, resilience, accountability, and reclaimed magic; illustrated, written, and initially self-published by C.Road.

Aside from creating art; Road is a songwriter and guitarist, having fronted the pop-punk group, The Homewreckers from 2008-2016. She currently fronts Choked Up, a project that doesnt stray too far from the Homewrecker’s foundations, but proves a departure in style and bilingual lyrics.

Having organized entire tours for The Homewreckers, Road has been performing readings, workshops, and lectures since first touring with her art in 2005. She’s traveled nationally and internationally on her own, and namely with The Homewreckers, Sister Spit: The Next Generation (an all queer spoken word performance tour), and Race Riot! (A national tour hosted by The People of Color Zine Project). Cultivating a performance trajectory with a consistent show of defiance, she performs at bookstores, record stores, basements, bars, college campuses, and beyond. Some notable presentations have been held at The New Museum, The Latina Health Summit, Smash it Dead Fest, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, La Mama Theatre, Yale University, and the Museum of Modern Art.

Cristy C. Road is a Gemini Sun with a Moon in Cancer and lives in Brooklyn, NY

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré

Written by: Anika Aldamuy Denise

Illustrated by: Paola Escobar

For ages:  4-8 years

Language: English & Spanish

Topics Covered: Travel, Emigration, Puerto Rican Culture & Traditions, Literacy, Community, Trailblazer, Multilingualism, Latinx Authors.

Summary: The story opens in 1920’s Puerto Rico.  Pura leaves with her aunt to visit New York City for a wedding, and with her Pura brings the stories of her home.  Manhattan is very different from Puerto Rico, but Pura decides to make the move to NYC and thus begins her new life.  Working first in a garment factory, she is unsatisfied.  When a job at her local library becomes available, Pura is the perfect candidate because she speaks Spanish, English, and French!  She is perfect for the job and loves working there, until she realizes that none of the stories she grew up hearing are in the library.  Luckily, she has story seeds that are ready to be planted and grow.  During the children’s story hour, Pura dazzles listeners with tales she knows well and believes others should know!  She decides to learn to make puppets, and brings her beloved folktales to life within the walls of the library.  Pura performs in English and Spanish, and she is the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York City.  Not satisfied, Pura writes down her stories and mails them to book publishers, hoping to make a book of stories.  She is published, and continues on her journey to plant story seeds in remembrance of her first home.  At a speaking engagement, Pura meets her husband Clarence and together they travel to new cities bringing stories and music to audiences all over the country!  After Clarence passes many years later, Pura returns to her original library and sees the fruits of her story seeds have flourished.

This important story tells the life of Pura Belpré, first mainstream Latinx author in America.  She used her storytelling abilities to build bridges between communities and advocate for her own culture and community.  In the back of the book is an Author’s Note that gives more extensive biographical information about Pura, as well as a bibliography, stories (including articles and films) for further reading, and some stories that Pura is responsible for bringing to mainstream publishers.  The book does a great job of integrating Spanish words and phrases into the story so it’s easily understood by both listeners and readers.  Pura Belpré is truly a figure that we have no business forgetting!  Both librarians and community activists alike can learn from Pura’s methods and legacy, and we all should continue to work in preserving her life’s mission of promoting folktales and bilingual stories.

Reflection Questions: 

  • How do you think Pura felt after moving to a brand new city?
  • Can you speak any other languages?
  • Why do you think it was important for Pura to promote bilingual storytelling and the folktales she grew up hearing?
  • What’s your favorite story?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Read the stories that Pura worked so hard to get published!  Do you recognize any of them?  Having bilingual books, even if students are not totally understanding both languages can introduce them different writing styles and literacy in additional to the vocabulary.
  • Make your own puppets and have a puppet show for another class!  What stories do you want told, and feel passionately about introducing to others?  Learn more about puppetry styles and crafting methods, and choose a construction style that works for your classroom’s ability and skill level.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

anikaAnika Aldamuy Denise grew up in Queens, in a book-loving, food-loving Puerto Rican-Italian family.

As a little girl, she enjoyed reading, writing short stories, and performing one-girl shows in her living room.

She graduated college with a degree in communications, and went on to get a Very Grown-up Job in advertising. While doing her Very Grown-up Job, she met lots of nice people and learned a great many useful things, but couldn’t shake the feeling she was meant to do something… different.

One day, she met the dashing children’s book illustrator Christopher Denise, who explained he drew “animals with clothes on” for a living… and encouraged her to write him a story. (Also, to go on a date with him.)

One wedding, three kids, and many messy first drafts later, Anika is back to writing short stories (in the form of picture books!).

She still enjoys those living room performances, but now plays the part of “Mom” under the direction of her three daughters: Sofia, Isabel, and Esmé. It has been her best role so far.

paolaPaola Escobar is a Colombian graphic designer and illustrator. She has worked for a variety of publishers including SM Spain, Planeta, Norma, Fleurus. In the UK she has worked with Oxford University Press, Penguin Random House, Scholastic UK, Laurence King, HarperCollins and Little Brown Book Group, and Little Bee Books and Simon & Schuster in the US. In addition she has worked across a broad range of printed and digital magazines. She currently works as a freelance illustrator and lives very happily in Bogota with her husband and dog Flora.  You can find her on Instagram @paoesco8ar