Babalú Exclusive: Cuban footprints across America – Martina the Beautiful Cockroach

The following Babalú exclusive is the last and final installment of excerpts from author Fernando “Fernan” Hernandez’s book, “The Cubans, Our Footprints Across America,” which documents the incredible stories of Cuban refugees who came to America, the land of opportunity, and achieved incredible success through hard work and determination.
____________________________ Agra Deedy was born in Havana and came to the United States as young refugee in 1964. She was raised in Decatur , Georgia , where she lives today. She has been writing for children for over twenty years. Deedy began writing as a young mother and storyteller whose NPR commentaries on All Things Considered were collected and released under the title, Growing Up Cuban in Decatur , Georgia . The pithy collection of twelve stories soon garnered awards, among them a 1995 Publishers Weekly Best Audio (Adult Storytelling) and a 1996 Parents’ Choice Gold Award.

Her children’s books have won numerous awards. The Library Dragon received various children’s state book awards and has sold nearly half a million copies. In 2003 the book was her home state’s choice to represent Georgia at the Library of Congress’s National Book Festival. The Yellow Star was the recipient of the 2001 Jane Addams Peace Association Book Award (Honor), presented to Ms. Deedy at the United Nations by Mrs. Kofi Annan. It also received the 2001 Christopher Award, the 2000 Parent’s Choice Gold Award, the 2001 Bologna Ragazzi Award (for best international children’s book), the 2002 WOW Award (National Literary Association of England), among other notable distinctions and honors. It has been translated to over a dozen languages.

Martina the Beautiful Cockroach was presented with the 2008 Pura Belpre Honor Award, the 2008 NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Book Award, the 2008 Best Children’s Books of the Year (Bank Street College of Education), the 2008 International Latino Book Award, the Irma Simonton and James H. Black Award (Honor), the 2008 E.B. White Award (Nominee), and the 2009 ALA Odyssey Audio Award (Honor), among others. Deedy’s most recent children’s book, 14 Cows for America , is based on an astonishing gift Americans received from a Maasai village in Kenya , following the events of 9/11. The book was released in September of 2009 and is a New York Times Bestseller. The Wall Street Journal described it as a “…moving and dramatically illustrated picture book.” Carmen is now expanding into the world of chapter books with her Fall 2011 title, The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale. This is a story of deception, intrigue, and derring-do that reveals the unlikely alliance between a cheese-loving cat and the Cheshire Cheese Inn mice in Victorian England.

She has been an invited speaker at venues as varied as The American Library Association, Refugees International, The International Reading Association, Columbia University , The Smithsonian Institute, TED, The National Book Festival, and the Kennedy Center . An ardent supporter of libraries, she was the 2008 National Spokesperson for School Library Media Month (AASL). She has spoken before Noble Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners, CEOs of major corporations, and heads of states. But children still remain her favorite audience.


Order your copy of the book HERE.

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