By Leani M. Auxilio
New York City – Artist Mona Lunot Kuker went to the Hard Ball Press children’s book party recently in the city and literally went binge buying for books. “This means a lot. I want to give these books to the children under my care,” she declared.
Kuker is the illustrator of the book Manny and the Mango Tree, one of the five titles launched by the Hardball Press.
On November 12, the Brooklyn-based publishing house formally introduced five titles (with Spanish translations) of children’s books on fairness and kindness, aimed to ensure a fair future.
“There is no better way to make a kinder, fairer future than to start the young ones to read books on social justice,” quipped Tim Sheard, Hard Ball Press publisher.
Manny and the Mango Tree (author: Ali and Valerie Bustamante illustrator: Mona Lunot Kuker) tells of immigrant children trying to save a mango tree from being cut by the building’s supervisor.
Margarito’s Forest (author: Andy Carter illustrator: Allison Havens) is a narrative of Don Margarito in Guatemala who reforested his land ravaged by military strife.
The Cabbage that Came Back (author: Stephen Pearl illustrator: Rafael Pearl) is a sweet tale of Chinese origin speaking of thoughtfulness and generosity that go back to you many times over.
Joelito’s Big Decision (author: Ann Berlak illustrator: Daniel Camacho) tells of the friendship of two young boys tested in sympathy and support when their parents had to go to the picket lines to demand for wage increases.
Hats Off for Gabbie (author: Marivir Montebon illustrator: Yana Marushko) is for girl empowerment, bravery, and respecting one’s mother.
Author Ann Berlak generously gave a thumbs up to Montebon’s Hats Off for Gabbie as rich in the value of respect and determination.
Montebon, on the other hand, said she is fascinated with Pearl’s The Cabbage that Came Back. “It speaks of good karma. Generosity returns a hundredfold. I am glad that Mr. Pearl remembered this folklore told to him as a child and writes about it. Truly valuable.”