Our Inaugural Edition
Welcome to the inaugural edition of Latinx Kid-Lit. Corner. I’m Steve Moises, Latinx illustrator and Children’s Books Features Editor at Latino Stories. As I like to say in my surfer voice, I’m “super psyched” to guide you on a journey to explore some fun and inspiring Latinx children’s books. My mission is to offer parents and educators options for books (for children 8 and under) that feature Latinx protagonists and their creators. Because I’m an illustrator, you can bet your cornflakes that I will also be highlighting some of the effective ways in which artists help develop character personalities and story plots.
Andres and His Rubik’s Cube Madness: The Plot
Our first book, Andres and His Rubik’s Cube Madness, written by Andrea Alvarez, and illustrated by Ana Sebastian, involves the extraordinary personal achievement of a seemingly ordinary kid. The themes in this book speak volumes about the value of hard work, discipline and being organized. The magic of this book lies in the themes that are presented through the experience of a neighborhood kid. Pair the story with wonderfully crafted imagery, and you have something kids can relate to.
Based on a true story, the book follows a boy, Andres, as his curiosity with a neighbor’s Rubik’s Cube turns into a passion for solving cube puzzles at lightning speeds. Andres’s determination eventually leads him to successfully qualify for the largest cubing championship in the nation.
Aside from the rich illustrations, two important elements about the story captivate my attention.
In a time when video games and sports like football, basketball and skating are as popular as ever, it is refreshing and cool to see a Latinx boy taking on a unique hobby. As I read about Andres’s determination to solve cube puzzles, there was something thrilling about what he was doing. The story does a great job of simplifying the challenges and rewards that are involved in competitive Rubik’s Cube solving. Competitive hobbies should be fun. More importantly, as the story demonstrates, they can help bring out the best in our abilities. Andres exemplifies this and found excitement and purpose in solving Rubik’s Cube puzzles.
What I found most valuable about this story is how Andres achieved his success. More and more these days, kids and adults are drawn to activities that provide instant gratification. For example, go online and scroll through social media and you will find that we give enormous praise to celebrities sharing photos of fun moments. I’m not saying any of our celebrities do not deserve praise, but we don’t often see the hard work that leads to their success. In the book, Andres realizes doubt, determination, obsession, and joy. His range of emotions are authentic and a great representation of what children should come to expect when working toward achieving their goals
Right off the bat, the book cover depicts a character and scene that I hope to see more often in mainstream American culture. Centered on the cover is Andres, looking boggled as he fiddles with a Rubik’s Cube. What stands out is Andres’s ethnic curly hair and brown skin. The style of illustrations feels contemporary, which perfectly suits the scene that has Andres in a modern middle class suburb among kids his age.
There is one illustrated scene in particular that I enjoyed very much. It comes at the moment Andres decides he wants to learn to solve his first Rubik’s Cube. Determined to learn, Andres takes his Rubik’s Cube everywhere he goes. The illustrations are equivalent to a montage scene we typically see in a sports movie. Like a training scene from the boxing movie, Rocky, the illustrations in the story depict Andres as he rigorously practices his puzzle-solving skills in different environments.
Within two pages of illustrations, we see Andres practicing in a lounge chair at home, in the backseat of a car, in bed, and finally in his dreams. This is where Andre’s commitment appears to be “madness!” Through these consecutive illustrations, we know Andres can’t and will not stop working hard until he has successfully solved the Rubik’s Cube. I see the word “madness,” as an alternate description for the relentless passion Andres demonstrates. If you ask me, this is the true nature of success. Well done, Andres!
That concludes our first edition of the Latinx Kid-Lit. Corner. What do you think? Have you read the book? Feel free to leave a comment below, email me or stay in touch on Instagram: @tropicsalvi. I would love to hear from you.
About Andrea Alvarez and Ana Sebastian
Andrea Alvarez: This is Andrea Alvarez’ first publication and introduction to the world of picture books. Andrea and her family immigrated to the United States when she was a teenager. Born in El Salvador, Alvarez has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, and a master’s degree at George Washington University, in Washington, D.C. She now lives in Florida with her husband and son, Andres. Her son is the character who lived through the events in her book. For more info about the author visit her website or catch her on Instagram: @authoraalvarez.
Ana Sebastian: Ana Sebastian AKA Pebbles, is an illustrator and artist based in Madrid, Spain. She studied Fine Arts at University of Zaragoza and Université Michel de Montaigne, Bordeaux, and earned her master’s degree in digital illustration. She’s currently a freelancer and is represented by The Bright Agency. When she’s not busy illustrating, you can bet she’s making travel plans, free-diving, or doing yoga. Find out more via her website and on Instagram: @anasebastian_illustration.