In this allegorical tale of transformation and liberation, we meet River, who aspires to greatness by becoming “big and strong like Ocean.” When River meets Lenna, a wise, liberated, and determined girl with a remarkable plan, River learns that excessive power always comes at someone else’s expense, and that true fortitude comes from valuing and elevating everyone's stories, and from asking one very simple question, “How can I help?"
**100% of the proceeds from sales of El Regalo de Lenna / Lenna's Gift will go to the Mariposas Scholarship Fund, a community-driven initiative that has awarded over $10,000 in scholarships to first-generation Latinx students during the last 3 years.**
About the process:
Forty-six committed Mariposas students, ages 8-18, met twice weekly over five months with writer Susie Wilde, artist Peg Gignoux, and the Mariposas educators to write and illustrate El Regalo de Lenna. During the writing residency, the Mariposas youth teamed up in large and small groups and worked through many drafts, as they reflected on their experiences as students of color navigating white-centered spaces at school and in the community. They auditioned ideas, determined symbolism, and discussed the characters of River, Moon, and Lenna. To create the illustrations, Gignoux guided the students in exploring collage with paper and cloth. The Mariposas learned how to dye cloth and screen print patterns and words, creating a vivid array of original fabrics that became broad landscapes. Working in textile collage allowed the students to merge their many points of view into a cohesive visual narrative. Central to this book is its bilingual text. To support this goal, the Mariposas created distinctive material by printing key words in Spanish and in English. For example, CURIOSIDAD was reflected in River’s waters, STRONG marked the grasses and AMOR shone on Moon’s face. The students collaborated on developing 14 large illustrations and materials for dozens of spot illustrations. Lenna's Gift exemplifies a successful collaboration between youth, educators, and artists who came together to act their part toward a more just society.
The Mariposas community of students, parents, and educators believes that all students should be able to pursue higher education regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic or legal status. Aware of the obstacles in place for Latinx youth as they pursue a higher education, the Mariposas community elected to have 100% of the proceeds from sales of Lenna's Gift to go towards the Mariposas Scholarship Fund, a community-driven initiative that has awarded over $10,000 in scholarships to first-generation Latinx students during the last 3 years.
About the Mariposas Community:
The Mariposas community was born in 2013 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with the mission of facilitating a space for Latinx students, their parents, and Latinx educators to exchange experiences and pursue personal growth as a collective. The weekly Mariposas sessions focus on culture, traditions, the realities of living as Latinxs in the American South, and the impact of the intersection of issues of gender, class, and race in our lives and in society. The close to 100 Mariposas youth, parents, and educators are bound together by an active pursuit of personal liberation, civic activism, and democratic engagement. Learn more at mariposasnc.org.