Talking Location With author Leigh Russell – YORK
A Reflection of My Mom’s House by Hannah Carmona – The Dominican Republic
19th April 2021
The stories my Mom told me of the Dominican Republic were of warm summer nights spent dancing in the rain as a child, making mud pies with dirt, and listening to her dad play old Spanish love songs. With each story she tells, I feel the laughter and sometimes even hear the sound of the waves as I get a glimpse into what life on her island might have been like.
The story that stuck with me most is her love of hopping from one house roof to the other. Yes, you heard that right–roof jumping! I think now of the roof of my current house with its shingles and steep incline. Not exactly something I could see myself jumping to my neighbor’s house from (and for that, I’m sure they are grateful). But my Mom describes the rooves in her neighborhood as flat and made of cement or aluminum, with the houses close enough that she could bounce to each one. When I heard that tidbit, I knew that was exactly how I wanted to open my book Anita and the Dragons– with Anita free in heart, mind, and spirit as she relishes in her country.
My Mom describes the neighborhood she grew up in with great fondness. An impoverished area for the very low income, though, she doesn’t recall ever feeling poor. Her home was one that she saw as a palace– a place where though there was no hot water, baths could be taken in warm rain showers; though food was scarcely in the fridge, herbs were readily available in her Mother’s garden, and every morning, midday, and evening wooden wagons pulled by horses would come by selling fresh produce and eggs. What couldn’t be bought from the vendedor was available at the butcher shop where trips were made daily for fresh meat.
And though it seems so vastly different than how I was raised and how we live now in Tennessee, the takeaway for me remains the same: no matter the circumstances, simplicity and joy can always be found. And even when things aren’t perfect or fear momentarily outshines joy, there is an inner spark in us all that can always shine a light.
Despite never having traveled to the Dominican Republic (yet!) I know that I’ll one day fly there to experience its beauty and wonder for myself. To celebrate the rich history of where I come from. And maybe even leap across rooftops from my Mom’s childhood home.
Hannah Carmona, author of Anita and the Dragons
ABOUT THE CREATORS OF ANITA AND THE DRAGON
Hannah Carmona is a Latinx writer, actor, and director who currently resides in Tennessee. She is the mother of two girls, co-founder of Collective Art School of Tennessee, and a YouTuber. For more information visit Hannah’s website hannahcarmona.org and on Twitter @hannahacarmona.
Anna Cunha is an award-winning Brazilian artist who has illustrated more than 20 books for Brazilian and international publishers. Her work has been shortlisted for the Jabuti Prize and received a Joᾶo-de-Barro Prize honourable mention. For more information visit Anna’s website annacunha.com and on Instagram @anna_cunha.
Lantana Publishing is an award-winning children’s book publisher and social enterprise with a mission to publish inclusive books by under-represented voices celebrating every kind of child and family. Every every book purchased from their online shop, they donate a book to children who need books the most via their charity partners. For more information visit their website lantanapublishing.com.
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