Junot Díaz’s First Children’s Book Is About A Dominican Girl Living In Washington Heights
Rejoice. Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz, has written a picture book called Islandborn and it’s debuting in March 2018.
Illustrated by Leo Espinosa, Islandborn is Diaz’s first stab at fiction for young readers. According to the New York Times, it’s the literary gift Díaz promised his goddaughters some two decades ago, when they asked him to write a story that featured characters like them—Dominican girls living in the Bronx.
And while it was made with children from kindergarten to third grade in mind, the book weaves some of Diaz’s adult themes of immigration, identity and belonging.
A summary from the book featuring the protagonist – a Dominican girl named Lola living in Washington Heights and attending school with immigrant children – finds her trying to trace the links back to her roots.
When Lola’s teacher asks the students to draw a picture of where their families immigrated from, all the kids are excited. Except Lola. She can’t remember The Island — she left when she was just a baby. But with the help of her family and friends, and their memories — joyous, fantastical, heartbreaking, and frightening — Lola’s imagination takes her on an extraordinary journey back to The Island. As she draws closer to the heart of her family’s story, Lola comes to understand the truth of her abuela’s words: “Just because you don’t remember a place doesn’t mean it’s not in you.”
Díaz said to BuzzFeed News that he intends on writing a subsequent children’s book: “I do hope to write another one. I need to take Lola to the island. A sequel of sorts.”
Preorder Islandborn, here.