Author Spotlight: Raquel M. Ortiz

As a mother of two, children's book author Dr. Raquel M. Ortiz came to realize that there were few books on the shelves that reflected the culture and experiences that she grew up with and could share with her children. "I want my children to have the opportunity to enjoy stories about activities that are familiar and people that look like them," Ortiz says, "But there aren't many picture books available for children from Caribbean and Latinx countries." With her books, Dr. Ortiz takes us on adventures and shows us a world beyond our imagination. 

Ortiz, who in addition to being a children's author is also a storyteller, and puppeteer, will be presenting "Sofi's Magical Adventure" a bilingual puppet show based on her book Sofi and the Magic Musical Mural to Harris County Public Library's Virtual Programs on Thursday, March 18, 2021. 

Author Portrait Raquel M. OrtizOrtiz was born in Lorain, Ohio, and was surrounded by storytellers. Her lifelong love of art and storytelling are reflected in her books. Creating vibrant, colorful, worlds of wonder comes easy to Dr. Ortiz. She says, "I want to create stories that celebrate these traditions and histories, allowing all children and families to join in on adventures to new worlds within cities with which they’re familiar." Through her stories, Dr. Ortiz gives children a chance to travel without leaving their homes. Readers can journey through countries and islands rich in cultural experiences that showcase the diversity of our world. 

Dr. Ortiz’s first book originated while she was writing her dissertation. She tells HCPL staffer Sadina S. in the Using Our Library Voices podcast that as she was writing her dissertation on public murals, she was thinking about what would happen if someone went into the murals. Dr. Ortiz created different scenarios in her head and eventually created the beloved Sofi and the Magic, Musical Mural. Listen in as Dr. Ortiz discusses her writing journey, her inspirations, and more on the episode "Women Making History" of Using Our Library Voices podcast.  

Sofi and the Magic, Musical Mural

Sofi Paints Her Dreams

When Julia Danced Bomba / Cuando Julia bailaba bomba

We are honored to have Sofi's Magical Adventure as part of our virtual programming. You are invited to celebrate the diversity of Dr. Ortiz's bilingual books by joining Sofi’s Magical Adventure followed by a Live Q & A with author Dr. Raquel M. Ortiz on Thursday, March 18th at 11 am. This virtual event will broadcast on our Facebook page. 

Listen and enjoy, sing-along (and maybe even dance) in Spanish and English, to the soundtrack that includes bouncy plena music created by four-time Grammy-nominated composer William Cepeda.

Her show Sofi’s Magical Adventure realizes a dream of bringing these experiences to life for children through puppetry. Sofi's Magical Adventure, 25-minute bilingual musical puppet performance, is based on the bilingual children's picture book Sofi and the Magic, Musical Mural, and tells the story of Sofi and her adventure while running an errand for her mom. Sofi explores the splendor of Puerto Rico, Carnival, and the trickster known as the vejigante!     

The production of Sofi’s Magical Adventure was made possible thanks to a generous MAEF Cleveland Foundation grant. 

Books have the ability to transform us in many ways. The increase in diversity among children's literature, like Dr. Ortiz's books, has transcended that experience by giving us an in depth look at the world around us, celebrating cultures worldwide, and showcasing people of all walks of life. 

This blog was written by Jennifer N. and first appeared March 2021.