Today, I’d like to welcome author Janet Balletta to the Reading Room. Her first book, based on a Colombian legend and available in Spanish as well as in English, has a wonderful and unusual Easter theme.
Q. Welcome Janet! Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your books.
A. I was born in Brooklyn, New York to Colombian and Puerto Rican parents. I was raised Catholic in Queens, New York. In 1993, I moved my family to West Palm Beach, Florida and worked for the Palm Beach County School District. I have a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, master’s degree in Educational Leadership, and twenty-five years in education. Currently, I live with my family and work as a bilingual Kindergarten teacher in a public school in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
Q. Can you tell us something about your greatest success? And how about your latest success?
A. In 2013, I was inspired by my family to write my first children’s book, The Legend of the Colombian Mermaid. The book is also available in Spanish, La Leyenda de la Sirena Colombiana, translated by Maritza M. Mejia. It’s based on the legend of La Sirena De Hurtado, in Valledupar, Colombia. It was my favorite bedtime story my mother shared with me at Easter about a young girl who turned into a mermaid after she defied her parents and went swimming in the river on Good Friday. The book teaches a great lesson about obedience, family values, and cultural traditions.
In 2015, the book won the Mariposa International Latino Book Award and 2016 it won the Purple Dragonfly Book Award. This year, the mermaid legend is celebrating its 100 Year Anniversary!
In 2015, I released my second book, The Legend of Roberto Cofresí – A Puerto Rican Hero (La leyenda de Roberto Cofresi – Un Héreo de Puerto Rico translated into Spanish by Ana Morris). It is based on the famous corsair from Puerto Rico. It was also a favorite bedtime story my father shared with me about Cofresi’s transformation from a life of merchant sailor to corsair (aka. a pirate; but more of a ‘Robin Hood’ or ‘good’ pirate). This book teaches a great lesson about generosity, loyalty, and cultural traditions. In 2016, the book won an Honorable Mention in the International Latino Book Awards.
Other successes have been sharing my books at multiple book events, participating in the Annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day event, and meeting many interesting authors. In a couple of years, I will retire and write more children’s books. It’s my vision of living the dream!
Q. That’s wonderful! What are some of your biggest challenges?
A. As an educator, I am passionate about literacy with legends in particular. My hope is that my bilingual books will inspire children to develop a passion for bilingual and multicultural literature. My greatest challenges as a self-published author have been learning how to promote my books on social media, getting my books into stores like Barnes & Noble, and finding the time to write. My greatest success has been receiving the prestigious Mariposa International Latino Book Award and Purple Dragonfly Book Award.
The Legend of the Colombian Mermaid
Judith and her brother grow up hearing about the legend of La Sirena, a young girl who turned into a mermaid after she defied her parents and went swimming in the river on Good Friday. La Sirena is known for stealing children from the river and turning them into mermaids. When Judith’s brother goes missing from the river, Judith must rescue him from La Sirena before it’s too late.
Follow Janet on the web and social media:
Amazon Author Page with purchase links: www.amazon.com/Janet-Balletta/e/B00HZ9QEYK
Barnes & Noble: http://tinyurl.com/zklr86v