Local arts and culture advocate publishes first children’s book
Candelaria Norma Silva is a creative powerhouse. A community arts and culture advocate, consultant and writer, the Dorchester resident has been crafting children’s stories for years. The 2020 COVID-19 shutdowns finally gave her the time and headspace she needed to publish her first standalone children’s book, “Stacey Became a Frog One Day.” Inspired by the imaginations of her children and grandchildren, the book follows Stacey’s adventures transforming from one character to another.
Growing up in Saint Louis, Silva was drawn to stories whose characters reflected her own experience. “The Sweet Flypaper of Life” by Langston Hughes and Roy DeCarava, “Brown Girl, Brownstones” by Paule Marshall and “Bright April” by Marguerite de Angeli all occupied her reading list. “Sula,” by Toni Morrison, was the first hardcover book Silva ever bought, a prophetic purchase, as Silva would later interview Morrison for the Bay State Banner.
“There’s an extra special something when children have at least some of their books, like some of their dolls and some of their action figures, that reflect them culturally and ethnically,” says Silva.
The character of Stacey is inspired by a little bit of each of Silva’s children and grandchildren. Each letter in her name stands for one of those family members.
Paired with illustrations by Justin Aquidado, the book follows Stacey on different days of the week (a convenient and accidental learning tool) as she pretends to be various creatures and characters. Like many of Silva’s manuscripts for young readers, the book celebrates the joy and imagination of childhood.
As a mother and grandmother, Silva has a lot of experience reading children’s books aloud.
“I try to write with the parent reader in mind as well as the child,” says Silva. “If you’re reading aloud a book to a child and that child sees you on a regular basis … they’re going to want to hear that story sometimes a hundred, two hundred times.”
“Stacey Became a Frog One Day” can be purchased locally at Frugal Bookstore in Roxbury as well as through Silva’s website and Amazon. Short children’s stories that Silva has published with Ebony Jr. and The Dictopedia can be read for free on Silva’s website.
Even with this publishing accomplishment, Silva isn’t one to rest on her laurels. She has several other manuscripts in the works at chapter-book and young-adult reading levels and is already working on publishing the next book in the Stacey series.
“With children’s picture books, for me it’s about joy and trying to do something that brings them into the story,” says Silva. “Imagination is precious.”