Join us in celebrating Only for a Little While book birthday! We sat down with Musa Gabriela Orozco Belt to learn all about the inspiration behind her book.
But first, a little bit about this picture book:
A heartwarming picture book with Spanish words woven in, about a father helping his daughter adjust when they temporarily have to move in with extended family. When Maribel's family has to move in with Tía Carmen because Papi lost his job, Maribel and her sister feel unsettled. It’s not always easy sharing a room or being in a house full of loud cousins, but Papi reminds the girls that it’s only por un ratito—just for a little while. In the meantime, there is always someone to play with, the mealtimes are filled with music and laughter, and bedtime is for snuggling in tight. Maribel realizes that maybe being there por un ratito isn’t so bad after all. From debut author Gabriela Orozco Belt and artist Richy Sánchez Ayala comes a moving story about family and change—and how love is always the constant.
What inspired you to become a writer?
I have always been a reader with an overactive imagination but I never put them together until one night when I told my youngest a bedtime story and she asked that I write it down so she could read it whenever she wanted to. This was in April 2019 and in November, I wrote the first draft of Only for a Little While. As an English teacher, I always wrote essays, poems, and stories to model for my students, but I didn’t dedicate time to becoming a writer until 2020.
What 3 words would you use to describe your book?
Heartwarming, hopeful, and honest.
Where did you get the idea to write this particular story?
This story came from an “A-Ha” moment while at an NCTE conference. I was listening to a writer talk about her experiences with having to move in with her family when she was little and I thought “you did that too!?” I realized that while it may be an embarrassment for the adults going through that situation, for the kids it’s a great time and I wanted to share that with them.
What message are you hoping readers will take away from this story?
The message that I hope readers take away is that there is no reason to feel embarrassed about going through something like this. There shouldn’t be a stigma surrounding multi-families or multi-generational homes. It’s a beautiful thing when there is so much love to be shared in a home.
What comes next for you as an author?
My next picture book, YO SOY/I AM will be illustrated by Pura Belpre Illustrator Mirelle Ortega and published by Balzer + Bray in 2025. It’s a celebration of being bicultural. For everyone who lives with one foot in the aqui and one foot in the allá!
Only for a Little While will also be published in Spanish with the title Por un Ratito:
Gabriela Orozco Belt is a children’s book author who lives in a small town in the Mojave Desert. Inspired by her experiences of growing up bilingual and bicultural, she writes stories for children so they can see themselves in books. Gaby’s debut picture book, Only For a Little While serves to soften and process the feeling of being uprooted and see change as a temporary difficulty that families can overcome with mutual support. When not teaching, writing, or reading, she spends time with her husband, three children, and extended family.
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