Today, we celebrate Mariana Ríos Ramírez’ debut picture book, SANTIAGO’S DINOSAURIOS (Albert Whitman & Company), a story that celebrates our differences, while also connecting us through common interests. Scroll on for an interview between Mariana and Musa Judith Valdés B!
JUDITH VALDÉS B: Mariana, reading SANTIAGO’S DINOSAURIOS moved me, especially given everything that Santiago had to go through on his first day of school. Can you share what or who was the inspiration behind your story?
MARIANA RÍOS RAMÍREZ: Thank you for your kind words, Judith. I’m glad you enjoyed reading the book. Actually, Santiago’s character and story are inspired by my son’s experience, which makes this book very special to me in a unique way. My son, Patrizio (Pato), was 5 years old when we moved to Anderson, SC from Mexico due to my husband’s job in an international company in summer 2016. Back then, he didn’t speak or understand English, so it was very challenging for him (and for the whole family) to face starting a new school year in a new school where he couldn’t communicate.
I remember well his first day of school, when we left him at the school’s door wondering what he was going to do. The first months were really hard for him. He missed his school and friends in Mexico, in addition to missing our extended family and our previous home. The process of moving to a new country with different culture and language and where there are no family or friends can be a great shock for adults and children alike, and it’s very complex in several areas of an individual’s life.
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