The beloved bilingual children’s book series Lil’ Libros announced the subject of its latest storybook, and we’re probably (read: definitely!) more excited than the babies the series targets: It’s Dr. Ellen Ochoa.
A veteran astronaut, Ochoa was the first Latina to ever travel to space. In 1993, she served on the nine-day STS-56 mission aboard the space shuttle Discovery. She’d journey beyond our planet four more times, including on the STS-66, STS-96 and STS-110. In total, the Mexican-American history-maker logged nearly 1,000 hours in orbit.
On Thursday, Patty Rodriguez, who co-founded Lil’ Libros five years ago with her best friend Ariana Stein, excitedly dropped the news on Instagram.
“‘The Solar System with/ El sistema solar con Ellen’ [is] a bilingual book that will celebrate the journey of a trailblazer. A book in English and Spanish that I hope inspires all our children to know that no dream is too big. Proof that we can touch the stars,” she wrote in a caption on a slideshow of Ochoa and of the cover of the book.
Rodriguez also noted how thrilled she was to have interviewed Ochoa, a fellow Latina from Los Angeles, for the book.
“My voice was shaking and my heart beating so fast,” she said of their encounter.
Rodriguez and Stein launched the Los Angeles-based publishing company in 2014. Since then, they have released more than 15 Spanish-English board books that teach numbers, letters, shapes and words in English and Spanish. One of its most popular sellers are its biographical installments, which include “The Life of Selena (La vida de Selena)” and “The Life of Celia” (La vida de Celia),” among others.
“At Lil’ Libros, the mission is … to elevate our stories and voices. And thanks to you we have been able to create beautiful books that celebrate who we are and our contributions,” Rodriguez added in the post.
The book, which does not have a release date yet, shows a youthful Ochoa proudly standing in her orange space suit, holding onto her helmet, among a starry night.
“This image of her brings me so much pride and joy. Dr. Ellen Ochoa, in her space suit and the American flag. Just wow,” Rodriguez said.
Ochoa, who was also the 11th director of the Johnson Space Center, and its first-ever Latinx leader, is a brilliant barrier-breaker, and soon the babies in our lives will learn about her life and legacy through the illustrated, bilingual book — that is, if we don’t keep it for ourselves.
Do you remember having your period for the first time? Were you relieved, scared, or confused? Did you think you could bleed to death, or believe that you couldn’t swim or go to gym class? Did you hear someone make joking references to women being “nasty” and think, “I’ll die of embarrassment if anyone knows?” Did you feel like you were prepared? This Ecuadorian writer wants girls to reconcile with their bodies, so she wrote a book to walk girls through menstruation.
In a world that is increasingly progressive, menstruation is often still a taboo subject.
More often than not, what information girls do hear around their bodies is often negative or incorrect, and even school health classes that discuss the subject often focus on the theoretic and biological “systems” that make it work, without ever touching on the real, practical experience of a monthly cycle. As a result a girl’s first period is still likely to be disconcerting for her.
Ecuadorian academic and menstrual educator-turned-author Paulina Vásquez Quirola wrote a book on the subject.
Taking readers on a fantastical trip between awakened states and lucid dreams she tells the story of a girl’s reconciliation with her changing body.
The book, published in Spanish, walks girls through the mystical celebrations of the female body.
From classroom scenes, where periods are shamed, to celebrations in mystical women’s circles, the book offers an alternative to the negative connotations that menstruation still holds in schools when it comes to periods.
The book talks about the ancient Andino wisdom surrounding menstruation.
‘Tribu de Mujeres’, illustrated by José Rafael Delgado, explains the wisdom of the Andes transmitted by elderly women like its protagonist, Abuela Killa. When passed on from one generation to the next, young people learn that menstruation reveals the creative urge and cyclic nature of all living beings and life itself.
Parents, friends and teachers can make the experience a much more positive experience.
By providing girls with accurate information, real-life experience, and practical advice, they can learn to view their menstrual cycle in a totally different way: as an important element of their female nature. “I discovered the importance of understanding ourselves cyclically, of understanding ourselves as part of nature, as part of a whole,” explains Vásquez. “I think that is one of the big issues. Modernity and the system in which we live makes us disconnect from ourselves, from others in the sense of community and nature, the universe, from something much bigger.”
An important way to make girls more comfortable with menstruation is to make sure that they have accurate information.
Not just about how and why it works, but also on the day-to-day, real life business of it. “We live it as something tiresome, as something exhausting. So it’s like, shit, it came! It’s time again! When is it over? Many of us have that negative view of our cycle,” says Vásquez. The more comfortable women and girls are with our own bodies, the more we will learn to handle both the first mentruation, and the ongoing experience.
“Black Panther” and “Us” star Lupita Nyong’o keeps wowing audiences and critics with every performance. She stunned the whole world with her interpretation of Patsey in “Twelve Years a Slave” which earned her an Oscar—making her the first African woman to ever win an Academy Award for acting. Her performance in “Us” made us all shift in our seats watching her amazing portrayal of “Red” the creepy anti-hero of the film.
She speaks four languages, has a graduate degree from Yale, won an Academy Award for her debut performance, has covered fashion magazines and newspapers around the world and has every film critic in her pocket, what else could she possibly do next?
Write a book.
The Kenyan-Mexican actress is debuting her first book this month.
credit Instagram @lupitanyongo
Inspired by the lack of diversity in the books she read growing up, the actress turned author, decided to do her part by creating a children’s book that tackles colorism and representation. “Sulwe” which means “star” in Luo, Lupita’s native language, is a children’s picture book that’s all about a girl whose skin is “the color of midnight”, who is “darker than everyone in her family”, according to its official synopsis by publishing house Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, and is described by the publisher as “a powerful, moving picture book about colorism, self-esteem and learning that true beauty comes from within.”
Nyong’o first announced the news of the book on her Instagram page back in January.
“Sulwe is a dark-skinned girl who goes on a starry-eyed adventure and awakens with a reimagined sense of beauty. She encounters lessons that we learn as children and spend our lives unlearning. This is a story for little ones, but no matter the age I hope it serves as an inspiration for everyone to walk with joy in their own skin.” The Kenyan-Mexican actress told Marie Claire that she hopes Sulwe will offer inspiration to young readers, saying, “In no way do I imagine a child will read this and never have a problem with the world discriminating against their skin or themselves discriminating again their skin. But at least you have a foundation. You have something that reminds you that you are enough.”
The book is illustrated by artist, filmmaker and bestselling author Vashti Harrison, a fervent activist for racial equality herself.
The book is illustrated by Vashti Harrison, the author and illustrator of New York Times bestselling book “Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History”. Nyong’o said in a statement that she’s loved having Harrison on board, “Sulwe is a character near and dear to my heart, and seeing her brought to life through Vashti’s illustrations is thrilling.” Vashti, an artist, slash filmmaker, slash author, revealed that she wanted the art for “Sulwe” to be eye-catching, magical and whimsical, “The story has an incredibly moving and powerful message, while at the same time shares a fun and whimsical adventure. I wanted to infuse every page with as much elegance and thoughtfulness, as much magic and wonder, so readers would want to come back again and again.”
credit Instagram @lupitanyongo
The 48-page book is aimed at children as young as four, through to the age of eight. Executive Editor at “Sulwe”‘s publishing house Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, said in an interview: “Lupita is outspoken on the issue of colorism, and gave a moving speech about the subject at the Essence Awards in 2014. Colorism is the theme that she’s chosen to expand on for her first picture book. In Sulwe, Lupita Nyong’o shines a light on the prejudices of skin color honestly and unflinchingly but in a way that is also accessible for even the youngest readers. Sulwe introduces an unforgettable character whose journey in the night sky is magical, empowering, and full of whimsy. This story is a beautiful celebration of learning where your strengths lie and discovering the beauty within that kids from all backgrounds can relate to. The story takes place in Kenya, a country not often represented in picture books, and the culture and setting are integral to the story.”
This week, Lupita took to Twitter to share some thoughts on the importance that representation has on young black children like her, when she was growing up.
credit Twitter @lupita_nyongo
On a lengthy post on Twitter, Lupita Nyong’o shared that the book is a love letter to her younger self and to black children around the world. She wrote about how growing up, she never saw girls and women like her represented in the books she read. She went on to say how she was given a glimpse, “a window” into the lives of people who looked nothing like her, and how that made her yearn for a black role model, “I didn’t have any mirrors”, “mirrors help us develop our sense of self”.
“Colourism, society’s preference for lighter skin is alive and well. It is not just a prejudice reserved for places with a largely white population. Throughout the world, even in Kenya, even today, there is a popular sentiment that lighter is brighter.” “Sulwe” is released online and in bookstores everywhere October 15.
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