We are excited to share the cover of author Laurenne Sala & illustrator Zara González Hoang’s new picture book, Mi Casa Is My Home, out from Candlewick on Sept 7th. The book stars Lucía who leads readers through her cozy house, introducing them to her favorite spots and her big, loud, beautiful familia. It is a charming Spanglish celebration of family life.
Laurenne’s sweet story, written in the perfect mix of Spanish and English is paired with Zara’s bright colors and warm details like lively plants and jars of habichuelas, which make the story and the characters feel relatable and fun.
The celebration of home in this bilingual picture book feels like an abrazo from your most favorite people, your familia. Mi Casa is My Home is available for preorder HERE!
All righty! Here it is. The beautiful cover of Mi Casa Is My Home, here for the first time ever out in the world and on the Las Musas blog. Illustrated by Zara González Hoang and designed by Hayley Parker.
To celebrate the reveal of the book’s adorable cover, Laurenne and Zara asked each other a few questions about their experiences working on the book and about the bits of themselves they brought to it.
ZARA: What inspired you to write Mi Casa?
LAURENNE: Growing up, I never really thought about my house so much, but a few years ago, my mom put my childhood home up for sale, and I became an emotional mess! I couldn’t imagine handing over a place full of so many memories! It was the first home I ever knew. Living there 18 years, it had become one of my best friends. We knew everything about each other. Thinking of all those wonderful memories inspired a poem. And when I rewrote it again in my preferred language, Spanglish, it worked even better.
What was it about Mi Casa that made you want to sign on to illustrate it?
ZARA: Oh everything! I remember when I got the manuscript I was actually working at my local library, and I was taking a break and happened to check my email on my phone and there was your manuscript in my inbox. I read it and it was like I was reading a story about my own family – which makes sense, now that I know you a bit better since we share so many similarities in our families and our backgrounds! I absolutely adored the story and felt so incredibly lucky to have been asked to illustrate it, I knew as soon as I read it the first time that this was a story I wanted to illustrate.
What is it like to write a story and send it off without having any clue how it will be illustrated? And what was it like to see the artwork for Mi Casa for the first time?
LAURENNE: It’s so scary to send off your work and put it in the hands of someone else! The characters I had been imagining could have been drawn as a family of bunnies or flamingos! Thankfully, I had seen your work and already fallen in love with your details and especially the way you drew hairdos! When I saw the sketches for the first time, I cried! I thought the family was so representative of my family and so many families that I couldn’t believe it. I loved it so much and felt so lucky!
Were the plants, details, and characters inspired by your own family? How so?
ZARA: Yes! I always think one of the things that is the most fun about illustrating picture books is that I get to hide little bits of my life in the pages and since I related so much to your story and the characters in it, I couldn’t resist bringing a little of my family in. There are small nods to them throughout, the plants are definitely one – the house I grew up in was full of plants – my mom loves to garden so we always had plants inside and out. Also, the type of house that Lucía lives in is based on a bungalow, which is the type of house I grew up in, although our house didn’t have a cute blue door, but I wish it had! Also, the Abuelo wears the style of hat my dad liked to wear. There are so many more silly little things like the octopus toy that Lucía sleeps with is actually based on my son’s stuffed octopus and all sorts of other random things. I didn’t specifically base the characters on people in my family, but they are definitely a combination of different people I know and love.
I’m so glad you resonated with the artwork! Picture books are such crazy things since the author and illustrator work separately and it can definitely be nerve wracking on both sides, not knowing what the other person will think!
What are you most looking forward to / excited for about having Mi Casa out in the world?
LAURENNE: I cannot wait to talk to kids about it!! For most of my life, I’ve been fairly ashamed of my Spanglish, thinking I wasn’t Latinx or Hispanic enough since my Spanish wasn’t perfect. I want to bring this book to schools and encourage kids to think and speak in two languages, whatever that may sound like. Hopefully I can save kids the time I wasted by getting them to be proud of who they are, perfectly bilingual or not. AND, I hope to show them how beautiful it is to think and speak in two languages so they don’t refuse to learn one like so many kids I know (ahem, my own daughter!!).
What about you? What are you most looking forward to / excited for?
ZARA: I’m the same, so excited to talk to kids about Mi Casa. To share crazy stories about my family and how they are like and not like Lucía’s and hear their stories as well! I also love the Spanglish aspect of the story and I love everything you said about accepting your Spanish where it is and embracing the mixing of the two languages however they come out because that is something that is a struggle for me as well. And I love that this story affirms language in whatever form it comes out. I’m excited to see how kids relate to that aspect as well.
Pre order Mi Casa Is My Home today!
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