Updated: Mar 6, 2022
Born in a small town in the Dominican Republic, the Mirabal sisters lived at a time when the country was under the merciless rule of a dictatorship. Their deaths on November 25, 1960 (at ages 36, 34, and 25), have received international coverage. In their honor, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is observed annually on November 25.
The Mirabal Sisters: From Caterpillars to Butterflies, strikes a stark contrast between the power of love and the greed for power, and highlights for young people the importance of being brave.
The four sisters - Patria, Dedé, Minerva, and María Teresa - grew up in a happy and loving home in the Dominican Republic, but they lived with the ever-pressing cloud of the dictator-president Trujillo's rule hanging over them. Trujillo allowed the people very little freedom. The Mirabal sisters knew the power of a loving home, as well as the power of bucking "the normal" (such as women not wearing pants or driving cars like men did), and they would not settle for the tyranny of Trujillo's reign.
The beloved sisters were called "Las Mariposas (The Butterflies)" by their people, and they really did have a butterfly effect on their country by standing up to Trujillo. Three of the 4 sisters did not live to see the results of their courage, but fear of the future did not stop them from being brave.
Raynelda tells the story of the Mirabal sisters vividly, and María Ocampo's illustrations help bring them to life. The Mirabal sisters may have lived many years ago now, but their story is of timeless importance: they are an example of fearless bravery in the ominous face of darkness.
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I'm a firm believer in teaching younger generations about history to aid in the prevention of repeating the negative. Topics like murder/execution are not easy to discuss with children, but the story of the Mirabal sisters is important. I have heard bits and pieces of the story through my adult years, but it was nice to sit down and read this book to learn more.
The sisters displayed an incredible amount of bravery and courage. They are admirable and women that should receive more coverage in history classes. I believe that their path for the strength and determination they displayed came from having a loving, happy home, despite the circumstances of the country they lived in.
Lessons drawn from this book can be used in numerous cases of adversity in the world today. These women displayed acts of rebellion without causing destruction themselves. This is where our little ones can draw inspiration!
I received a complimentary copy for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Meet the Author:
Raynelda A. Calderón, a Dominican native who lives in Queens, NY, is a children’s book author who has worked in public libraries for more than 15 years. She holds a doctorate in leadership in higher education, and she has taught Information Literacy at various colleges, most recently at Bronx Community College. As a librarian, working with children inspires Raynelda to write about the accomplishments of Hispanic women in history. She hopes to inspire young readers to follow their passions and never take no for an answer. Raynelda is the creator of the first Hispanic Heritage wall calendar that honors the accomplishments of Hispanic Americans in the United States. She lives with an untamed Shih Tzu, Toby, and a much attached Chihuahua, Maya. She spends her free time thinking (and drafting) about books to write, or painting, crocheting, or crying over abused dogs.
On Writing: Writer’s block and what I do to get back on track
I guess writers experience some type of block all the time. Sometimes I have a very clear (and laid out) story in my mind, but when I sit down to write my mind goes blank!
Other times, I get inspired to write at three in the morning, but I am also VERY sleepy… so by next day my inspiration is gone. I consider that to be writer ’s block too!
In general, I don’t have any specific thing I do to overcome writer’s block (hmmm… now that I think about it, maybe my thing is to actually do nothing about writer’s block [?]).
When I feel that the words are not coming out in English, I switch to writing in Spanish. When that doesn’t work either, then I just put it down and go distract myself with other things like painting, crocheting, and reading.
That… period of distraction—to call it something—can last months because one thing takes me to another… For example, I am now obsessed with making amigurumi butterflies and looking at the illustrations of Nívola Uyá.
Right now I have a story way through, and I just can’t find the way to move it forward. That story has been resting in Google Drive for a couple of months now. Every time I go back to it, my mind goes blank. It’s a good thing that I like to draw and crochet (a lot!).
I guess I just wait it out for the inspiration to come back. It has to come back eventually, right?
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