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A Groundbreaking Book by Bay Area-Based Award Winning Chicana Children’s Author and Illustrator Maya Christina Gonzalez

Culture & Community By Veronica Gonzalez Photo by Jeannie O’Connor ©20144166 views
A Groundbreaking Book by Bay Area-Based Award Winning Chicana Children’s Author and Illustrator Maya Christina Gonzalez

A Colorful Bilingual Book for Children and Parents That Encourages Appreciation for Diversity, Equality, and Nature

Call Me Tree/Llámame árbol is a bilingual children’s book written and illustrated for children and parents who want to be “…inspired to dream and reach, reach and dream…and to be as free and unique as trees.” Maya Christina Gonzalez once again combines her talents as an artist and a storyteller to craft a gentle, empowering story about belonging, connecting with nature, and becoming your fullest self. The pages are colorful, with images created in watercolor, ink and color pencil. The story focuses on a Chican@ child on a journey of self-discovery. Finding a way to grow from the inside out, just like a tree, the child develops as an individual comfortable in the natural world and in relationships with others. The book is filled with inspiring and lyrical phrases like “Some trees reach. Some trees teach. Some trees stand so still. Some sing songs. Some sing along. All trees have roots. All trees belong.”

Call Me Tree/Llámame árbol dates back to when Gonzalez was thirteen and her family moved from the desert to the Oregon woods, which are filled with trees! “There is an evolutionary quality to the three children’s books I’ve written. I see them as a trilogy. My Colors, My World is about reclaiming a sense of self and presence. I Know the River Loves Me is about having a relationship with nature and a sense of belonging in the world. Call Me Tree is about not only being reflected by and having a relationship with nature, but actually seeing self as part of nature, free and strong” explained Maya.

MAYA CHRISTINA GONZALEZ is an author, fine artist, a progressive educator and the illustrator of more than twenty picture books, several of which have won recognition from the Pura Belpré Award, Américas Book Award, and International Latino Book Awards. This is the third book Gonzalez has both written and illustrated, the previous two books are My Colors, My World/Mis Colores, Mi Mundo; and I know the River Loves Me/Yo sé que el río me ama. In 2009 Maya co-founded Reflection Press, an independent press that publishes radical and revolutionary children’s books, and works that expand spiritual and cultural awareness. And in 2013, she co-created an online learning environment called School of the Free Mind about expanding the mind and reclaiming the creative. Her groundbreaking work as an educator includes the Gender Now activity book and curriculum that establishes a natural/normalized framework for multiple gender expression using nature, history and global cultures. The ideas behind the Gender Now tie-in to concepts in Call Me Tree/Llámame árbol as Maya has intentionally created a gender-free main character, and refrained from the use of pronouns allowing readers to break free from gender restrictions and cultural assumptions and projections. “It provides an inclusive perspective of the world,” asserts Maya. Maya is a leader in creating beautiful and subtle ways to encourage acceptance and gender equality, and an appreciation for diversity and nature.
Kirkus Reviews recently included Call Me Tree/Llámame árbol in the Best Picture Books of 2014 That Celebrate Diversity list, which included 13 children’s books total: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/lists/best-picture-books-2014-celebrate-diversity/call-me-tree/#feature.



Call Me Tree/Llámame árbol is now available. Details below.
Call Me Tree/Llámame árbol
Written and illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez
Release date: November 13, 2014
Reading Level: K - 4
24 pp / Hardcover / $14.31 / 978-0-89239-294-0
10” x 9” x 0.5” / Double-page Watercolor, Ink, and Color Pencil illustrations