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Juliet Menéndez. Photo: Luis de León Díaz.
Juliet Menéndez. Photo: Luis de León Díaz.

'Latinitas,' 40 amazing Latina dreamers who made history

From ballerina Alicia Alonso to Puerto Rican astrophysicist Wanda Diaz-Merced, they were once children and are now more essential than ever.

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At school and everywhere else, we have often been told about great women like Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat to a white man in segregated Alabama, or Madam C.J. Walker, the first African-American woman to become a millionaire in the United States. 

However, there is still a long way to recognize and give visibility to the Latinas' contributions and show the adults of the future that they opened a door for others to follow in their footsteps.

Latinitas, by Guatemalan-American illustrator Juliet Menendez, is like the light of a lighthouse leading a ship into port. 

It is a lovingly illustrated book that educates and raises awareness of Latina women from both the United States and Latin America who have made significant contributions to culture, economics, science, and social justice. 

Such as the Bolivian Juana Azurduy, who led the miners' struggle against Spanish oppression; the Dominican Solange Pierre, who raised her voice for Haitian-Dominicans by demanding their rights from the government; or even the Argentine architect Susana Torres. 

Four dozen talented women that Menéndez turns into " little girls" to emphasize that vocations and aspirations are cultivated from childhood and that she also resolves with mastery and humor, reimagining, among others, the Chilean novelist Isabel Allende chasing the spirits that her grandmother invoked, or the Puerto Rican astrophysicist Wanda Díaz-Merced playing with her sister to pilot a spacecraft. 

Latinitas who one day became adult Latinas; heroines who never stopped dreaming... like the Uruguayan poet Juana de Ibarbourou, who wrote her first sonnet at the age of 14, or the Cuban ballerina Alicia Alonso, hugging her dancing shoes without imagining that one day she would give life to Giselle. 

A highly recommended book that brings together female and racialized talent from 1650 to the present day, developed by Menéndez, who, in addition to being an illustrator, worked as a bilingual art teacher in East Harlem (New York) and will inspire young and old alike.

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