Author Spotlight: Frances Díaz Evans

Written by Frances Díaz Evans and illustrated by Alejandra López, Coco la cotorra puertorriqueña (Spanish Edition) is the story of Coco, a bilingual Puerto Rican parrot freed in El Yunque after growing up in captivity. Coco is excited about living in the rainforest and finding a family, but his squawking differs from the parrots born in nature. Will Coco make it in the rainforest?

Today we have the pleasure of having Frances Díaz Evans on Glitter Reviews to tell us more about her debut picture book Coco la cotorra puertorriqueña.

Frances, I enjoyed your story about a native Puerto Rican parrot’s life after leaving captivity. Would you please share what inspired it?

Thank you so much for this interview and I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed Coco’s story.  

Earlier this year, I came across an article that stated that the parrots in captivity had learned a new dialect and that there was growing concern that once released into the wild that they won’t be able to communicate with other parrots or would have a hard time assimilating to the wild due to communication differences. I was fascinated by this story and looked further into it and found a research article by Tanya Martínez. Martínez is a conservation biologist with the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resource’s Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery. She noticed that the parrots in captivity sounded different from the ones in the wild. During her research, she confirmed that the parrots in captivity were squawking differently from their wild counterpart. They had developed a dialect. Once I finished reading her research, I was inspired and I knew I had to write a children’s story about it. 

 Coco’s squawking is different from the parrots born in the rainforest. Why did you make Coco “bilingual”?

Yes, his squawking is different because of his dialect and making Coco bilingual just made sense. As an advocate of bilingualism, I also understand that children who learn a second language develop accents, dialects and normally sound different than someone who is a native speaker. Making him bilingual is his superpower. 

Why do you think it is an important story for children to read?

There are two things that I wish children would take away from this story: 1) bilingualism is a gift, and 2) we need to care for and protect our natural resources. How? By learning about the flora and fauna of El Yunque’s tropical rainforest. Knowledge is power and if they learn how to care and protect it, they can become little environmental advocates. 

 Which is your favorite part?

Ah! I love the whole story, but my favorite part is when he proudly says that he’s bilingual. 

 Can you tell us a bit about your illustrator, Alejandra López? What is your favorite illustration?

Alejandra was highly recommended and she’s amazing. López is a Latina illustrator from Chile. She captured El Yunque’s essence, the flora and fauna, and beautifully illustrated Coco and the rest of the characters. 

 Can you describe your writing process?

I took a creative writing course at New Mexico State University and with the help of my professor, I was able to draft the ideas that I had in my head into a classic short story. I used the storytelling techniques of Hispanic American authors that I learned about during the course. Once I finalized the course, the short story as it was, wasn’t ideal for my younger readers. So, I recruited my Peruvian author friend Mariana Llanos to help edit the story into a picture book format.  

 What is next for you?

I’m currently working on the English version of Coco la cotorra puertorriqueña. I’m hoping to have it published by February 2022. Becoming an author has been an amazing experience and as an educator I will continue teaching Spanish, advocating for bilingualism and conservation efforts of the Puerto Rican parrot. Once Coco is available in English, I’ll be working on making it a series with new books in the future.

Frances, thank you for sharing Coco la cotorra puertoriqueña with us!

To learn more about Frances and her projects, follow her blogs Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes and Discovering Español. Connect with her: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Outschool.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you.

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