HOUSTON, TX May 2017—Lydia Gil’s bilingual “flip” book for intermediate readers, Letters from Heaven / Cartas del cielo, was chosen for inclusion in the Dallas ISD’s 2016-2017 Luminarias List. A group of Dallas Independent School District librarians created the list in 2006 as a guide for selecting Hispanic books of high literary quality to meet the needs of the young Hispanic community. Both nonfiction and fiction bilingual and/or Spanish titles are considered for a recommended list geared to grades Pre-K through 3rd and for a supplemental upper elementary school list.
A tender story of family and friendship, Letters from Heaven celebrates Latino traditions, especially those of the Spanish Caribbean. Celeste is heartbroken when her grandmother dies. But everything changes when a letter mysteriously comes in the mail—from Grandma! “I know you miss me as much as I miss you. Don’t be sad. Where there is love, there is no sadness.” As letters continue to arrive from the beyond, each with a recipe of a favorite food her grandmother used to prepare, Celeste consoles herself by learning how to cook the dishes.
Meanwhile, without Grandma’s social security check, Mami needs to get a second job to make ends meet. Celeste has to quit dance lessons, and a bully at school gloats that she will replace Celeste as the star in the upcoming recital. To top things off, her friends think that she’s gone crazy; dead people can’t send letters!
When a final letter arrives, Celeste realizes that all the recipes combined make an entire meal: café con leche, guava and cheese croissants, congrí, plantain chips, ropa vieja and flan. Can she really make a Cuban feast to celebrate her cherished grandmother’s life?
This entertaining novel is written in ten brief chapters for children ages 8-12 and includes six traditional Cuban recipes with easy-to-follow instructions. Dealing with contemporary issues like trouble with friends and the death of a grandparent, Gil’s bilingual book pays tribute to family.
LYDIA GIL was born in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, of Cuban parents. She is the author of a bilingual “flip” book for intermediate readers, Letters from Heaven / Cartas del cielo (Piñata Books, 2014), and a bilingual children’s picture book, Mimí’s Parranda / La parranda de Mimí (Piñata Books, 2007). She teaches at the University of Denver and writes for EFE, the leading Spanish-language news agency. She holds a Ph.D. in Spanish from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Arts in Comparative Literature from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Arte Público Press is the nation’s largest and most established publisher of contemporary and recovered literature by US Hispanic authors. Its imprint for children and young adults, Piñata Books, is dedicated to the realistic and authentic portrayal of the themes, languages, characters and customs of Hispanic culture in the United States. Based at the University of Houston, Arte Público Press, Piñata Books and the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage project provide the most widely recognized and extensive showcase for Hispanic literary arts and creativity. For more information, please visit www.artepublicopress.com.