Celebrating Language & Culture With the Los Angeles Libros Festival

Phoebe Swan Guiot, Senior Librarian, Acquisitions,
Authors and performers Isabel Brazon, Andrés López, César Castro, Inés Castel-Branco, Lissette Norman and Canticuénticos

Literature is celebrated in every language, and authors and illustrators worldwide understand the importance of connecting their work to schools and students. As part of this year's Los Angeles Libros Festival, the library and its partners have brought authors, illustrators, and performers from Spain, Latin America, and the United States for a Virtual School Day conducted exclusively in Spanish. This year's Virtual School Day features Isabel Brazon, Andrés López, César Castro, Inés Castel-Branco, Lissette Norman, and Canticuénticos.

Host Isabel Brazon, the creator of Baila Baila, is a musical force dedicated to making learning a holistic experience for children. Her albums, including Baila Baila, Amarillo, A Volar, and Maracas, go beyond bilingualism; they infuse a genuine love and appreciation for Latino culture into classrooms and homes. Through energetic and educational music, Isabel keeps children engaged and makes learning a joyful adventure. She brings the vibrancy of Los Angeles and Latino culture to life, ensuring that the next generation learns and celebrates their heritage.

Andrés López, a prolific artist with a global reach, is renowned for his beautifully illustrated books that touch readers' hearts worldwide. His work has resonated not only in his native Mexico but also in countries as diverse as Italy, France, South Korea, and Germany. Andrés infuses his books with emotional depth and insight, creating a visual and narrative feast for readers. He takes the ordinary and transforms it into something extraordinary. To him, this exploration process is akin to dreaming, where every question sparks a new journey of discovery. His work doesn't hesitate to ask profound questions and challenge the status quo, inviting readers to join him on this captivating journey.

César Castro, a professional musician from Veracruz, Mexico, is a true renaissance man of the arts. Trained in the traditional Son Jarocho genre, César's talents extend far beyond music. He is a laudero, an instructor, and a community leader who uses his diverse skills to connect with people through traditional forms like zapateado and the fandango. Having learned from masters like Vergara and Gilberto Gutiérrez of Grupo Mono Blanco, César pays it forward by sharing his knowledge and encouraging curiosity in the communities he loves. His advice to young musicians is simple but profound: stay curious and approach every situation as a learner. In music or life, embracing the unfamiliar with an open mind can lead to incredible discoveries.

Inés Castel-Branco, the founder of AKIARA books, is a true polymath passionate about various art forms. She's a musician, painter, and photographer and holds master's and doctorate degrees in fields as diverse as ephemeral architecture and theater spaces. Her journey began with a piano from her grandparents and her father's old camera in Castelo Branco, and it has taken her on a creative odyssey. Through AKIARA, Inés aspires to illuminate the lives of those who interact with her books, inspiring new generations and inviting them to explore their creativity. Her books allow readers to step outside themselves and engage with their inner worlds from fresh perspectives. It's a celebration of the marvels of nature and art, a theme that runs through her work.

Lissette Norman, a celebrated poet and author, has left an indelible mark with her picture books. Her book, Platános Go With Everything / Los platános van con todo, is a heartwarming celebration of Dominican joy, familial love, and what she aptly terms "platáno pride." She aims to transcend Dominican borders, using the universal language of food to unite Latinx children from diverse backgrounds, allowing them to see their unique lives reflected in her narrative. It's imperative to her that her work resonates across various communities, not only educating others about Dominican culture but also highlighting the common ground that can be discovered amid laughter and celebration.

Born in Santander, Spain, in 1982, Marta Comín is an illustrator and author of numerous children's books. She plays with the interplay of visual and written language, believing each language complements the other. Her advice to young creators is simple: write, illustrate, and play. To her, the creative process is about the joy of making, and she encourages others to revel in that joy.

Hailing from Argentina, Canticuénticos creates original children's music infused with Argentine and Latin-American rhythms to reconnect kids with their cultural heritage. Their mission is to unveil the richness of folkloric rhythms, which carry identity and tradition. Canticuénticos seamlessly combines literature and music, creating engaging books that open doors to endless possibilities. They firmly believe that reading contributes to individual freedom, an idea deeply woven into their musical project. Canticuénticos is dedicated to effecting social change through art and literature, celebrating regional cultures, and fostering a sense of belonging among children, even when far from home.

These remarkable individuals collectively embody the spirit of celebration, exploration, and cultural understanding at the heart of the Los Angeles Libros Festival.

Isabel Brazon, Andrés López, César Castro, Inés Castel-Branco, Lissette Norman, and Canticuénticos will be among the featured authors and performers at the Los Angeles Libros Festival, a free bilingual book festival for the whole family celebrating stories and music from Latin America and the United States. L.A. Libros Fest will be streamed live on YouTube on Friday, September 29, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. The Festival will be in-person at Central Library in Downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, September 30, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Book cover for Un huevo en bicicleta
Un huevo en bicicleta
Comín, Marta
Book cover of ¡Qué miedo!
¡Qué miedo!
Comín, Marta
Book cover of Plátanos go with everything
Plátanos Go With Everything
Norman, Lissette
Book cover of My feet are laughing
My Feet are Laughing
Norman, Lissette
Book cover of Breathe
Castel-Branco, Inês
Book cover of Respira
Castel-Branco, Inês
Book cover of Volver a mirar
Volver a mirar
Lopez Martinez, Andrea
Croco book cover
López, Andrés
Book cover of El monstruo de la laguna
El monstruo de la laguna
Hillar, Ruth