Thursday, April 17, 2014

Cuentos...discovering the Person Behind the Story: John Parra

April Spotlight on Children’s Book Illustrator John Parra

Welcome to our new blog series, Cuentos...discovering the Person Behind the Story. 
Each month we will feature one of our favorite children’s book author/illustrator.

We are kicking off the series with John Parra, an award-winning illustrator who brings to life the stories in the books Gracias/Thanks, Waiting for Biblioburro, My Name is Gabriela/ Me llamo Gabriela, P is for Pi├▒ata, When Thunder Comes: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders, Round is a Tortilla: A Book of Shapes and his most recent book Green is a Chile Pepper: A Book of Colors.

If you are in New York – you can meet John at the 4th Annual East Harlem Children’s BookFestival!

John, of the books you have drawn, which do you reflect the most on? Why?
Each book project I have worked on holds special memories, many levels of enjoyment, and distinct concentration. However, there are times when I reflect on one particular book more than any other.

The book I seem to reflect on most frequently is, Waiting for the Biblioburro, a story inspired by the heroic efforts of an actual librarian Luis Soriano.  Mr. Soriano and his mobile library journey through the rural areas of Colombia, South America, to bring literacy and culture to the children who have no access to town libraries. I was immediately drawn to the delightful narrative as it was presented to me several years ago by its author Monica Brown. Her use of themes such as kindness, sacrifice, determination, humor, empowerment, and beauty captures the true journey and heart of a hero and a dedicated teacher. I am also drawn to and feel proud of the many art illustration spreads created for the book.
Pages I created like The Imagination Tree and Ana and the Butterfly I feel capture and create a sense of wonder as well as joy to compliment the words of the story and its ideas.  I know that through learning and creativity we solve issues as well as enhance our minds and souls.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Growing up I always loved creating art for no other reason than for the sheer joy of it. I did not know at the time that as I got older it would be a part of my professional life. I think the advice I would give to myself is one of direction and potential. Art is such a large field with many areas that a young artist can follow. There are fine artists, commercial artists, children’s book artists, mural artists, graphic artists, editorial artist, and on and on. To understand where to put my energies took time. I do remember the exact moment I found out what kind of artist I wanted to become though. It all clicked one day when a visiting professional illustrator came to visit my art class in junior college and showed us his work.  I recognized his work immediately and like a light bulb turning on in my head, I felt a sense of excitement and empowered that this is what I wanted to do too. So much of where I am today was in thanks to other professional artists taking the time to spend on talking to a young art student such as myself.

What three children’s books, other than your own, would you name as must reads? Why?

What? Only three? This is more than difficult; it is impossible because there are so, so many.  Let me give you just a few to wet your appetite:

a)     Pedro, The Angel of Olvera Street, by Leo Politi
b)    Frida, by Jonah Winter & Ana Juan
c)     The Little House, by Virginia Lee Burton.
Extras Bonus Selections:
d)    Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold
e)     Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez, by Kathleen Krull and Yuyi Morales
f)     Tito Puente, Mambo King/Tito Puente, Rey del Mambo by Monica Brown and Rafael Lopez

Finally John, what are three places you would suggest children/families visit when in your hometown?

I live in New York now but I grew up in Southern California, such as Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Diego. If I could recommend three places for families to visit it would be:

a) The Santa Barbara Zoo, on Child’s Estate that sits on a beautiful little hill next to the Pacific Ocean.  The zoo has a great little selection of animals such as monkeys, birds, lions, giraffes and elephants.  And above all do ride the train around the park grounds, though the stately Eucalyptus trees, animal exhibits, and adjacent lagoon that is remarkable and just lovely to see.
b)The Beach. Especially Malibu and Santa Monica for the boardwalk, Leo Carrillo, Torrey Pines, La Jolla are all great stops along the Pacific Coast.
c) Balboa Park in San Diego that has many museums and activities all centrally located and all breathtaking and memorable for all ages.

We want to thank John Parra for his participation in our Cuentos segment! 
If you want to find out more about him please visit his website.

If you are in New York – you can meet John at  the 4th Annual East Harlem Children’s BookFestival!
Saturday April 26th
11:00am – 4:00pm 
Free event, rain or shine! 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Internship opportunities at La Casa Azul Bookstore! (Summer 2014)

La Casa Azul Bookstore is currently looking for a few good interns who wish to learn the ins and outs of running a business while enriching lives through reading, writing, and the power of books!
All internships are unpaid, but there are a number of great perks, including free books, flexible hours, fun-loving co-workers, and more. Most importantly, you will learn the ins and outs of working at both a bookstore, and a locally-owned, independent business. Plus, it will earn you a number of professional contacts, and looks great on a resume!

The internships last for 12-16 weeks (longer internships available) and interns work 12-20 hours/week.

Summer internship is June 1, 2014 – September August 31, 2014. Opportunities are available for high school seniors, undergraduate, graduate students and recent graduates who are considering careers in the arts, education, business, marketing and publishing. College credit may be arranged.

Deadline to submit internship applications for Summer 2014 is Friday May 2, 2014 at 6pm.
Email: lucha.libros[at]

Desired qualities/skills for ALL interns:

  • Dynamic, self-motivated, outgoing, highly organized individual with good research skills, including exceptional written and verbal communication skills, and capacity for working with diverse populations.
  • Ease with technology is a must, including knowledge of MS Excel, Word, and social media (Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter).
  • Bilingual (English & Spanish proficiency).
  • Must bring your own laptop or tablet to work

ALL applicants must submit:

1. Creative cover letter

2. Resume (with 2 references)

3. Answer to question: Why are you interested in an internship at La Casa Azul Bookstore (1 page max, separate from cover letter)

4. Schedule information (days/hours available from Tuesday – Sunday between the hours of 12pm – 8pm)

=  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =


· Assist before, during, and after in-store and off-site events.

· Arrange for any necessary audio-visual equipment setup prior to the event

· Formulate text for all Social Media web sites (Twitter, Facebook etc.)

· Other tasks as assigned

Hours: 16-20 hours per week

Events Intern must be available 2:00pm - 8:00pm (Wednesday – Saturday) and 1:00pm-6:00pm on Sundays

Email: lucha.libros[at]

Subject line: EVENTS INTERN (Summer 2014)

=  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =


The School Programs Intern will assist with the development and implementation of new outreach strategies to teachers, principals, parents/parent coordinators and education-oriented organizations.

Tasks will include conducting the summer storytime programming as well as scheduling summer school/educational visits, updating educator card membership database and other projects as assigned.

Desired skills: 
  • The ideal candidate has an interest in education, the New York City Public School system and the arts. Must have excellent verbal and written communication skills, be social and outgoing, have the ability to prioritize responsibilities, and work well both independently and within a team.
  • Strong organizational skills are necessary, as well as knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite (including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook).

Hours: 16 - 20 hours per week

School Programs Intern must be available 11:00am – 6:00pm (Tuesday – Saturday)

Email: lucha.libros[at]

Subject line: SCHOOL PROGRAMS INTERN (Summer 2014)

=  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =


Assist in Marketing/Public Relations for store events.

Requirement: must demonstrate proficiency in social media platforms.

Tasks may include but are not limited to: assisting with the promotion of various events, and a variety of in-house communications, processing and archiving media coverage; developing relationships with local and national journalists; and offering creative input in developing pitches.
Additional support with marketing initiatives as needed.

Hours: 8-12 hours per week

Marketing Intern must be available 12:00pm – 6:0pm (Tuesday – Saturday)

Email: lucha.libros[at]


=  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =


La Casa Azul Bookstore is seeking a video intern, with strong editing skills and a good eye for compelling visual storytelling. This unpaid, part-time internship provides an outstanding opportunity to gain video editing experience and build a strong portfolio.

Ideal for recent graduates, willing and eager to work in a fast paced environment and with an ability to work well with others.

Responsabilities include:

Organize and archive auvio-visual material; create short compelling videos of past events; create a Youtube channel; prepare all other video-related material for marketing purposes.


  • Candidates should have experience filming and editing footage, preferably for promotional purposes. Should be able to structure and coordinate work hours, have strong technical skills, and feel comfortable working independently under creative guidance
  • Passion for video production and impactful storytelling.
  • Experience editing with iMovie and Final Cut Pro (Adobe Premiere also acceptable. Photoshop and Illustrator skills a plus).
  • Candidates must have an Apple computer with Final Cut Pro installed (or other editing software).

Schedule: 8-12 hours per week; flexible to work with college schedules.
When applying, please include resume and work samples.

 Email: lucha.libros[at]
Subject line: VIDEO INTERN (Summer 2014)

=  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =

No incomplete applications will be considered.

Please do not contact the store with further questions or to inquire about selection.

Thank you!

La Casa Azul Bookstore

Hidden Gems: The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano.

Happy martes everyone! 

We are starting our week off, as always reviewing a book that for some may be a hidden treasure in our bookstore. While in the past we have been reviewing children’s picture books, to be more inclusive of the breadth that encompasses children’s books, we will start including children’s chapter books and young adult novels. This week’s book is a new favorite of mine, The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano.

Set in 1969 the story follows Evelyn Serrano, a 14 year old girl, as she struggles with her identity and relationships with the two strong females in her life, her Abuela and her mother. At first Evelyn hates being seen as an outsider and tries to fit into the mainstream, going so far as to change her own name. But as events unfold in El Barrio, she begins to be an active participant in the movement bringing her closer to her Abuela and her roots while straining her relationship with her mother. In this novel, Sonia Manzano is not only able to capture the intricacies of Evelyn’s family drama but is able to give a window through Evelyn’s eyes of what life was like in El Barrio during the events that led to the rise of the Young Lords. What I love about the novel is how well written it is, making it an easy read for even the most reluctant of readers, its portrayal of a the everyday struggles of growing up and the fact that it teaches a new generation not only about the life in El Barrio back then but also the importance of social activism. It is an inspiration for any young person to know that age is no impediment to make a change.

Think this is a great book? Make sure to keep an eye for it and other great finds in our children’s section. 
Also mark your calendars: Saturday April 26th from 11am to 4pm is our 4th Annual East Harlem Children’s Book Fair, where we will have amazing authors and performers, including Sonia Manzano!
- Galia Sandy, Schools Program Coordinator