Author Chat with Sonia Manzano (COMING UP CUBAN: RISING PAST CASTRO’S SHADOW), Plus Giveaway! ~ US ONLY

Today we are chatting with Sonia Manzano, author of COMING UP CUBAN: RISING PAST CASTRO’S SHADOW

Read on for more about her, the book, and a giveaway!



Meet Sonia Manzano:

Sonia Manzano has affected the lives of millions since the early 1970s, as the actress who defined the role of “Maria” on the acclaimed television series Sesame Street. Sonia has won fifteen Emmy Awards for her television writing and is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Arts and Sciences. People magazine named Sonia one of America’s most influential Hispanics. She lives in New York City.

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From Pura Belpré Honoree and Emmy-award winning actor Sonia Manzano—best known as “Maria” from Sesame Street—comes the expansive and timeless story of four children who must carve out a path for themselves in the wake of Fidel Castro’s rise to power.

Fifteen-time Emmy Award winner and Pura Belpre honoree Sonia Manzano examines the impact of the 1959 Cuban Revolution on four children from very different walks of life. In the wake of a new regime in Cuba, Ana, Miguel, Zulema, and Juan learn to find a place for themselves in a world forever changed. In a tumultuous moment of history, we see the lasting effects of a revolution in Havana, the countryside, Miami, and New York. Through these snapshot stories, we are reminded that regardless of any tumultuous times, we are all forever connected in our humanity.




~Author Chat~


What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

Learning about Operation Pedro Pan. It was a program wherein unaccompanied minors were sent to the USA to escape Fidel Castro’s influence. That initiative made me wonder how other children might have been treated or reacted to the new and sudden circumstances the Cuban revolution caused.

Who is your favorite character in the book?

Juan, because there is something noble and righteous about him.

Which came first, the title or the novel?

The novel. My editor Andrea Pinkney and I brainstormed endlessly over the title.

Do you have a favorite writing snack?

No — actually I often forget to eat while I’m writing.

Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?

I try to follow my instincts and go with what feels right. If the writing feels analytical it probably won’t engage the reader.

What do you like most about the cover of the book?

I like the contemplative looks in each of the characters’ eyes.

What’s a book you’ve recently read and loved?

Dominicana by Angie Cruz.

What’s up next for you?

I created an animated series called Alma’s Way, which debuted on PBS in October 2021.

Are there any film adaptations, tv shows, audiobooks, or other adaptations in the works for this book? 

Not yet!

Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?

One of my characters, Ana, has to process the news of her father’s death. Writing that sequence took me some time.

Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?

At first, it was hard for me to get a handle on the character, Ana. My editor Andrea Pinkney and I  even considered cutting her out of the book, altogether.  But Ana kept calling me back.

Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or revising?

Definitely revising.  It’s like polishing a stone.

What would you say is your superpower?


Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart? 

Yes, the Bronx Children’s Museum.  I’ve been associated with them for many years.

What advice would you give to new writers?  

The more you write and rewrite the better you will become. Guaranteed. So stick with it!



Author: Sonia Manzano

Release Date: August 2, 2022

Publisher: Scholastic Press

ISBN-10: 1338065157

ISBN-13: 9781338065152Genre: Juvenile Fiction / People & Places / Caribbean & Latin America

Age Range: Ages 12 and up, Grades 7 and up





Three winners will receive a copy of Coming Up Cuban (Sonia Manzano) ~US ONLY


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3 thoughts on “Author Chat with Sonia Manzano (COMING UP CUBAN: RISING PAST CASTRO’S SHADOW), Plus Giveaway! ~ US ONLY”

  1. This book looks both and informative and fun!

  2. Cori says:

    This looks so rich with culture

  3. I like the cover and love to read historical fiction and haven’t read about these events before.

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