My Havana, Memories of a Cuban Boyhood

By ,

“We live in a city built by angels,” Secundino’s father tells him, and Secundina understands why. Each day as he walks home from school he marvels at Havana’s magnificent architecture and bright colors. When he is old enough to hold a pencil, he begins to draw Havana. But then when he is six, his family travels to Spain, and homesick Secundino no longer feels the urge to draw. When they return to Cuba, Secundino promises he will never leave Havana again. But there is trouble in Cuba, and Secundino’s family must flee to New York before they get caught up in the Revolution. Again Secundino has no wish to draw, describing his new home as a “black and gray city.” But come summer, Secundino has learned English and made friends and he is ready to draw again.

This is a bittersweet story with breathtaking illustrations by Peter Ferguson. Secundino’s descriptions of Havana, along with Ferguson’s images, made me want to go there. I also enjoyed how Secundino overcame homesickness with his art.

– Patricia O’Sullivan

Secundino Fernandez, nicknamed Dino, is lost in the world of his wonderful city, Havana. With every chance he can get, Dino picks up a pencil and carefully sketches the bright buildings aligning the road, the streets filled with friendly neighbors who play dominos with each other every night, and children and women dancing joyfully to upbeat music. Where would he want to be more? When Dino is six, he reluctantly leaves Havana to go to Spain with his parents. Dino thinks Madrid is a dreadful city, ruled by Generalissimo Francisco Franco. Dino has to get used to this new Spanish and his new school. Throughout the story, Dino moves from Cuba to Spain to Cuba again, and then to New York. Will he ever see his beloved Havana again?

My Havana was a really fun novel to read. It is perfect for children of all ages and has wonderful illustrations. The story of Secundino Fernandez will touch any reader with its inspiring characters and spirit. It really expresses Dino’s love for Havana. One of the best things about reading My Havana was that it is based on a true story.

– Marion O’Sullivan, age 12

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(US) $17.99

(US) 9780763643058