I’m not sure if I’ve ever published a picture book as timely as Viva’s Voice. It releases one week from today, while workers around the country gather and strike. People are organizing and unionizing in numbers not seen in decades.
That storyline spoke to me nearly two years ago when I first saw Raquel Donoso’s tweet in a Twitter pitch fest. But it wasn’t the only thing that caught my eye. I also loved the juxtaposition of a loud little girl and her quiet father, and the celebration (rather than suppression) of her strong, spirited nature. And I loved that that aspect of Viva ultimately helped her father in his moment of fear. The fact that the book is inspired from Raquel’s lived childhood experience further had me hooked.
The notion of a parent being open to a child’s support, of celebrating that vulnerability, is so important. But so too is the celebration of what we can do when we come together to help each other—to speak out for equal rights and fair pay and better conditions for our lives. All of these critically valuable concepts come up in this story.
And it’s in the storytelling and Carlos Vélez’s expressive art where these concepts weave together. This is not a didactic book; it does not preach about any of these ideals. It shows a loving relationship, a hardworking family, a community seeking fairness. It opens a place for readers and their adults to have a conversation about the questions and hopes that these things raise.
It’s in those conversation starters that I find so much value in this story and part of why I acquired Viva’s Voice. I hope you love the book as much as Reese and I do. Viva’s story matters, and so does yours.