Proud of where we are from
‘The Boy From Mexico’ is a new children’s book based on a true story about a young boy's immigrant experience.
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Edward Dennis was born in Phoenix, Arizona, to a family of Mexican-American origin.
“Growing up, I had no way to communicate where my family came from. That’s how I became inspired to write and illustrate my new book,” he told AL DIA.
Dennis is the author of The Boy From Mexico, a children’s book based on the story of his paternal great-grandfather, Jorge Francisco Dennis-Flores, and his crossing in the early 1900s.
“As a child I would hear stories about how my family came to the U.S. I never had a way to tell friends that were a different ethnicity than myself. As I got into my teens, I wanted to be more accepted and understood by peers. So I would ask details about my Great-Grandfather's crossing and his struggles,” he remembered. “It was then I learned of the town in Mexico my family comes from.”
It was years later, while working as a Special Education teacher in a public school, when he decided it was time to write his book.
“Several students (most of them immigrants) came up to me asking '¿Es cierto lo que dicen de nosotros?' My students were hearing negative comments on TV and at stores about immigrants. I had no book, cartoon or any media to give them…,” he recalled.
Later that night, he started storyboarding, writing and doing character development on who is now Luz, the main character of his book, named after his maternal great-grandfather, Luz Andres Alvarez.
“I decided to write a book for my students, so they are empowered and proud of where they come from. I wish something like this existed as a child so I could share my family's story with my classmates or teachers”, he said. “In the 90s, when I was in elementary school we weren't allowed to speak Spanish in class, there were no books on immigration for kids. This left me feeling out of place… if my book can change that then I would be happy. The world is very different in 2023 than it was in 1994, yet there is still a lack of books like this out on the market,” he added.
The Mexican universe
Dennis, who describes himself as a visual storyteller, admits that he grew up lost many times, “not knowing who my people are because in books and movies I only saw caucasian characters."
"If children read my book and future books I want them to see me and the characters and say 'WOW they look like me,'” he said.
Dennis always liked to draw, color and paint. However, it wasn't until he was in a city art class that he had the chance to make a book about his favorite animal and realize that he would like to make a real book some time. Since that day, he worked very hard on his artwork, then it became a job.
“I decided that instead of endlessly working for a company I'd like to make my own IP. My friends laugh and call it the Mexi-Verse, Mexican Universe because I have a lot of stories to tell about my people,” he concluded.