Children's book

Lea Aschkenas and Her Children’s Book “Arletis, Abuelo, and the Message in a Bottle”

Arletis and her bottle, from Lea Aschkenas' children's book

My guest this month on Literary Dialogs with Nina Serrano is Lea Aschkenas, author of “Arletis, Abuelo and the Message in a Bottle.” My interview is presented in this video and on my monthly radio series. Literary Dialogs features writers and poets who read and discuss their own works. Lea’s book takes place in Cuba and the US and is based on a true story. We have all heard about the possibility of finding a note in a bottle on the beach. But who ever does? Not me, or my friends or family. But in this true story set in modern day Cuba, a little girl, Arletis, finds one. After a vibrant correspondence, she adopts the sender as her honorary grandfather, Abuelo Esteban (Steve), a tug boat dweller from Sausalito California.

Children’s Book

This interview was so exciting! My first interview of a children’s book author! Of course, as a grandmother and great-grandmother, I was very familiar with children’s literature. I had read children’s books as a child and then later aloud to the tidal wave of generations that followed.

Author, Lea Aschkenas tells the interesting back story of the 16 year long road to publication in two languages. Upon the book’s publication, she presented it at the 2023 Havana Book Fair which Arletis, now an adult, attended with her children and parents! Lea reads an excerpt from he book in English to us in the interview.

You can hear this interview on July 4th, 2023, at 2:30 pm on KPFA-fm 94.1 on Cover to Cover/ the Nina Serrano and Jack Foley show, Part Two.

And again, on Tuesday, July 11 at 2:30 pm on my solo show also on Cover to Cover.

And yet again on OZCAT radio 89.5 fm, the Vallejo community station, on Thursday, July 13 at

10:15 am.

Lea Aschkenas at Live Event at Sausalito Library for Children

On Wednesday, July 19th , at 3 PM, there will be a book event for children at the Sausalito Public Library. The presentation will be followed by a book-giveaway (!), courtesy of the library, and a message in a bottle craft activity led by artist Maura Harvey. 

Watch the video and take a listen, it’ll brighten your day!

From Author’s Note, by Lea Aschkenas

“One afternoon several years ago, Abuelo Esteban walked into the public library where I was working in Sausalito, California, just blocks from the bay where he lived on his boat. When he told me his story, I immediately knew I had to write about it. The following year, I traveled to Pinar del Rio, Cuba, to meet Arletis and her family. I was enchanted by the idyllic, overgrown beauty of Arletis’s long street, which reminded me of the street where I’d grown up in Carmel Valley, California. I, too, had fond memories of playing outdoors and swimming in the river behind my house. Once I even threw a message in bottle into the river–but unlike Abuelo Estaban, I was not lucky enough to have anyone find mine.”

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