One of my favorite projects is my small press, Meritage Press. Well, sniffle! I just got an email from one of the authors. Gayle Romasanta, author of the gorgeous BEAUTIFUL EYES (a bilingual Filipino/English children’s book), shared a copy of notes for her speech at a panel last October—sweetly succinct as regards community and publishing. To wit:
As for what I talked about for Beautiful Eyes (BE) I really stressed my own need for a community. That books like mine need community support and aren't created in a vacuum. They are intended for the children of our community. I also talked about how important it was to finally have found a publisher for this small project—Meritage—after so many years of it looking for a home. The response to the book and it being adopted curriculum for SFUSD was a surprise to us. But I was so thankful that it had a chance to be made, especially since we were ready to shelve the project. When I reached out to Eileen/Meritage, it was our last attempt for BE to get published. Everything that happened afterward—the overwhelming positive reception was truly icing on the cake, because I wasn't sure what to expect from a "baby" filipino book (children's book geared to the toddler set)—something that seems to be a rarity. As a working writer, a mom, living in a place where there is no artist community I call home, it's necessary for me to continually have a connection to PAWA [Philippine American Writers and Artists] and other San Francisco bay area artists to help me move my work along. The fact that Eileen/Meritage was able to publish this book, and it was a risk she took since it was her first children's book, really was a chain reaction that reached farther than we thought it could have. The book in the last two years has become elementary curriculum, used as a teaching tool in elementary schools, inspired BE coloring books for the students (that Ramon [Abad, book illustrator] created for the BE launch party, but the educators loved it so much they included it in their curriculum as well), and also was made into plays by second grade classes at the schools, etc. None of the enthusiasm or love for the book would have happened at all if it weren't for that risk that Meritage took.
Isn’t that sweet? Beautiful Eyes has been one of the most positive publishing experiences—look at how these Cal State Long Beach college students took off on it, superimposing half of their faces on the book cover image.
Beautiful Eyes even inspired me to create a mini-book! And do check out their Facebook account for more beautiful news!
Obviously, this is all to say: I encourage you to check out this joyful book—available in print and as an E-book! And if you click HERE, you can hear Gayle talk about BE during an appearance at KPFA 94.1 Radio!