Monday, January 26, 2015

Corazón Pintado: Ekphrastic Poems, 2015

Xánath Caraza

“Caraza’s voice is the pulse of the powerful, mythic earth. Landscape and dreamscape fuse in this rhythmic poetry, as the images Caraza paints and repaints for us—mountains, shells, twisters, deserts—go on “rocking the imagination” through time, history, memory, and that wildest frontier: the heart.”

—Maria Melendez, author of Flexible Bones and How Long She’ll Last in This World.


Corazón Pintado (Pandora lobo estepario Press, 2015) by Xánath Caraza

Pandora lobo estepario Press, Chicago, IL, has decided to publish the second edition of my chapbook, Corazón Pintado: Ekphrastic Poems (2015).  This second edition is revised, augmented, and has a foreword by Nuno Júdice.  I have also added a few more poems and paintings.  The chapbook is a bilingual edition; most of the translations are by me in addition to Sandra Kingery and Stephen Holland-Wempe.  I am certainly thankful for this wonderful opportunity. 

The first edition of Corazón Pintado (2012) was published by TL Press, Kansas City, MO to which I am absolutely thankful since was the first time I was able to see my work in the form of a book.
Parts of the second edition of Corazón Pintado: Ekphrastic Poems were written with the support from the Beca Nebrija paraCreadores 2014 award from the Instituto Franklin in Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain.

The artists I have had the honor to work with for CorazónPintado are the following:

Adriana Manuela
Adriana Manuela is a painter and ceramist originally from Mexico. She has participated in individual shows in Mexico and Spain. Currently, she lives in Córdoba, Andalusia, Spain.  Adriana Manuela is working on a new series of ceramics titled: Yolotl.


José Jesús Chán Guzmán, AKA Chán
Chán has participated in international collective shows in Mexico, the US, England, France, Spain, Puerto Rico, and Canada.  Chan graduated from the School of Fine Arts, University of Veracruz, in Xalapa, Mexico. In 1992 he received the Ramón Alva de la Canal Award, among others. Currently, he lives in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico with his wife and two dogs.


Israel Nazario
Israel Nazario is originally from Santa María Zacatepec, Putla, Oaxaca. He graduated from the School of Fine Arts, UABJO, in the City of Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico. His work has been displayed in several collective and individual shows in Mexico, Japan, and Brazil. Currently, he lives in the City of Oaxaca where he teaches, and paints.


Thomas Weso
Thomas Weso is an educator and artist. His vivid paintings based on Woodlands motifs are in collections in Washington DC as well as the Midwest, and he has participated in solo and group shows in Kansas and Missouri. Tom is an enrolled member of the Menominee Indian Nation of Wisconsin. He teaches Native American Studies classes at Friends University. He has published personal essays and articles. He received his M.A. in Indigenous Nations Studies from the University of Kansas.

I hope you all enjoy the new edition of my book.  We are still working on a release date, but, please, stay tuned.


“Xánath Caraza creates poignant visually inspired narratives.  Her ekphrastic poems evoke “eternal wisdom” gained through stories of past generations.”

—Silvia Kofler, editor of Thorny Locust and author of Radioactive Musings.


“In her bilingual chapbook, Corazón Pintado: Ekphrastic Poems, traveler, educator, poet and short story writer Xánath Caraza conjures up a collection of ekphrastic poems that summon both the indigenous and African roots of Mexico and take the reader through a trip of visual and rhythmic narratives that descend “into the heart of things”.”

—Lauro Vazquez


“Water and waves flow through the book, and drag nurturing, cleansing throughout the pages. They are drenched with both death and freedom. A tree standing alone, barren, settled in sadness contrasts images of the sea. All of it pointing in both directions, the past and the future. See the vibrancy, colors smeared across the palate, staining magic, birth, struggle, reality, and dream. Look into the blush, the tint of the painted heart.”

—Lonita Cook, writer for the Examiner


Xánath Caraza has the gift of transforming a story into a poem, even when it has the lyrical melding of a metaphorical touch or a melody.  Further, this is what allows us to listen, in each poem, to that voice which shares and transmits worldly and enduring knowledge.

            —Nuno Júdice, Lisbon, Portugal

For preordering Corazón Pintado: Ekphrastic Poems (2015) go to: Chicago Art Market

Corazón Pintado (Pandora lobo estepario Press, 2015) by Xánath Caraza

Sunday, January 25, 2015

This Week's Lesson: Even Bad Art Has Soul

Olga García Echeverría

Angel was stalling at the door. I could tell by the way he was fidgeting with his backpack, waiting for his classmates to leave, that he had something he wanted to say. Once everyone was gone, he leaned into the classroom. “That’s what I don’t get about this literary analysis thing.”

“What don’t you get about it?” I was shutting down the computer station and putting my things away, but he had my attention. 

“How people can read something and then say they hate it. Or visit a museum and say the art sucks.”

“Do you like everything you read or see, then?”

“No, I guess not. But I think that writers pour their souls into their stories and artists into their art. That’s their soul, man. How can anyone say, ‘I hate your soul? Or your soul sucks?’ That’s why even if I read something that doesn’t speak to me directly, I say, ‘Thank you for sharing your soul, man.’ "

Angel’s words lingered in the classroom long after he’d waved goodbye and disappeared into the hallway. I have follow-up questions for Angel, like “Do all artists always put their soul into their work or is that merely an assumption, a romantic notion?” That will be another conversation on another day, but I got the gist of what Angel was saying at the end of class on Wednesday, Even bad art has soul.

Into The Woods: A Super Bad Review

I’m ashamed to admit I paid money to see it, but on New Year’s Day I gave Into the Woods a try. I blame Meryl Streep. I’ll see anything she’s in. I didn’t go into the movie theater completely blind; “Disney musical” says a lot. Nothing, though, could have prepared me for the horror of Into the Woods.

The movie is a medley of several of Grimm's classic fairy tales, such as Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, and Jack and the Bean Stalk. It is clear from the onset that there is an attempt to deconstruct or subvert the original plots; however, this effort not only feels forced, it bores. Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), who keeps running to and away from the prince and singing about it, comes across as an indecisive tonta. Her golden slipper finally gets trapped in tar on the steps of the castle and it's too bad the tar didn't turn into a giant monster, like in The Blob (a really good "bad" movie by the way), and swallow her up. Johnny Depp, the Big Bad Wolf, is only In the Woods for what seems like a minute. Too bad. The charming princes (yes, there's more than one) are a royal drag.
Actually, there is a scene where these two prince-charmings, both in tight jeans, are pussyfooting around a river, singing “I wish, I wish...” They're fantasizing about their beloved princesses, wishing they were with them. My friend Persephone and I couldn't help but filter this scene through a queer lens. We were desperate and the popcorn and chocolate Raisinettes were all gone. “This looks like such a gay scene,” we whispered to each other, perking up for a minute. Wouldn't that be something? Two princes trapped in Grimm's fairy tales. They're expected to fall in love with, save, and then marry pinche princesses, but it turns out these two charming lads are really in love with each other. At the river, away from all the social and cultural pressure, they leap around like energetic ranas, singing “I wish, I wish, I wish I could marry a prince instead of a princess...”

We're So Gay! Let Us Out of This Hetero-normative Fairy Tale!

My student Angel would disapprove of me saying so because I am sure many people put their soul into this production, but aside from Streep and her fantastic blue hair and make-up, this movie sucked beyond belief. I give it three negative stars because the only thing worse than a bad movie is a bad movie being sung to you, badly. The fact that Into the Woods got nominated for both Golden Globes and Academy Awards is baffling, and yet a reminder that 1) Disney can do whatever it wants 2) You can't judge a movie by its nominations or awards and 3) Bad is truly in the eye of the beholder.

Perse and me killing ourselves cuz Into the Woods was THAT bad

La Drag Asesina: When It's So Bad It's Kinda Good

Speaking of killings, drag, bad art, and soul, Ed Wood Jr. wrote Killer in Drag in 1963. The copy I have was translated into Spanish by Tatiana Escobar and Olatz Acosta in 1999. This was tatiana de la tierra's book. I want to say I vaguely remember it in her house, lying around entre sus cosas and among all her other libros. Aside from being a writer and avid reader, tatiana was also a librarian, so she always had books lying around. Queer libros en español were a must, since this was one of tatiana's main areas of personal and professional interest. When she passed away in 2012, her books were dispersed. Many were donated to libraries, others kept by family members or given to friends. La Drag Asesina went from tatiana's home in Long Beach to Cat Uribe in El Sereno. In our endless recycling of tatiana's special things, Cat recently passed the book onto me.

At the Beach with La Drag Asesina and...tatiana? Is that you, tatiana?

I would love to spend an afternoon at the edge of the beach, talking to tatiana about La Drag Asesina, about the main character Glen/Glenda, and his/her sexuality. About the pulp crime sex genre that Wood was well known for in the 60's and 70's. About his low-budget sci-fi horror flicks of the 1950's. I imagine we would poke fun and laugh at the fact that Ed Wood was posthumously awarded a Golden Turkey Award as Worst Director of All Time. How the hell do you get nominated for something like that? We'd ask, and we'd fantasize of one day getting a Worst Algo award. These are the types of things we could have a lot of fun with.

tatiana unfortunately isn't here in the same way she used to be, so I can only imagine what her take on the book would be. One distinction/critique I think she would have made about La Drag Asesina is that it isn't organic queer lit en español. It's not Spanish-speaking Mexico, Colombia, Cuba, Florida, East LA speaking of/about/to queerness. It's Hollywoodish, 1960's pulp queerish sexploitative fiction translated from English into Spanish. This doesn't necessarily make it all bad, though, just imported and perhaps somewhat distorted. And yes, La Drag Asesina is a bit contrite and predictable, ridiculous at times, yet it's also fascinating. Going back to the suppression of obvious (or at least potential) gayness in Into the Woods, Ed Wood Jr. was doing in the 60's what Disney wouldn't dare do today! Even in its badness, the soul of Killer in Drag was way ahead of its time. Because of this, La Drag Asesina has won me over. Why else? The short chapters, perhaps. The quick-moving plot; you can see the progression of the action in vivid scenes. The author's obsession with women's clothes is also a bit contagious. Thanks to Ed Wood, I now really want an angora sweater. The Spanish is also a plus. Mostly, though, I think it's the protagonist in the book that hooks. Glen/Glenda, the tender-hearted killer in drag who's dragging around his/her double identity in a suitcase because he's/she's on the run after witnessing the murder of the rich old maricon that he/she was just about to screw for social/economic mobility when...

I won't spoil it. If you haven't read this bad book yet, I highly recommend it, especially in Spanish. They translate toast as "tostada," but that's okay. I can deal with that. It's still a classic in the world of bad art, and it does have plenty of soul. The back cover sums it up perfectly, La Drag Asesina es “Un libro poco recomendable pero que nadie debe perderse.”

Tatiana and Me Full of Soul & Wearing Really Bad Wigs
Buffalo, NY Circa 2001

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Food and drink, cubano and mexicano. And books.

I must have a holiday/food/cooking hangover. Made chocolate cookies this week, dipped in powdered sugar and covered with a frosting of chocolate fudge. Also drank my last bottle of Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, all by myself. 13.8%, thick as light syrup and hearty as a buffalo burger.

Which reminds me, hipster redevelopment is ruining even our white restaurant-bars. My favorite place for ribs, buffalo burger and a Southwick's Ale, Big Hoss, was sold and now there's only one kind of buffalo burger, the ale is gone and the décor went minimalist. Luckily, my daughter sent us to the Roo Bar that's got a great burger, lots of micros, is cheaper and close to Denver's Northside. Yeah, it's preppy, but that's the way the barrio goes.

Yesterday, I made frijoles with ham hocks, and pork green chile--delicioso, dicen. Then there was a buffalo roast last week that was to die for. Chingaus, I'm hungry. Anyway, here some Latino-book-food news:

Another Bloguista book

Last week at Denver's Tattered Cover Bookstore, La Bloga's Lydia Gil read from her new bilingual children's book, Letters from Heaven / Cartas del Cielo.

About Letters, from Arte Público Press:
“The protagonist, Celeste, moves through a grieving process following the death of her beloved grandmother…Healing begins when the girl receives posthumous letters from Grandma filled with love, advice, and special memories. In spite of quarrels with school friends and a bully who makes her life difficult, Celeste finds solace with the family’s network of adult female friends who help her with recipes.”—School Library Journal

Lydis was also recently interviewed in a Denver Post article, "Endangered Cuban cuisine preserved by cooks in America." She talks about Cuban food and traditional recipes that are in the article and her book. It's a "flip" book, meaning you can read the English version straight through, or flip it over to read the story Spanish. It's a sweet onee, somewhat magical in its realism. If you get a chance, go hear one of her readings.

March 5-6, 2015, Reading Rock Stars, Rio Grande Valley, Tex.
March 19, 2015, Thursday, time TBA. Presentation & Discussion at Palm Beach State College, Boca Raton, Florida.
April 15, 2015, Wednesday, 2pm. Panel on “Help Children Cope” at the Texas Library Association Annual Conference, Austin Convention Center, Austin, Tex.
April 18, 2015, Saturday, 1-4pm. Día de los niños, día de los libros celebration, Houston Public Library, Julia Ideson Buildilng, 500 McKinney, Houston, Tex.
April 27, 2015, Monday, Las Comadres & Friends National Latino Book Club, April 2015 Selection, Teleconference

Why Mexicans Should Learn to Love Hipsters

In his latest video, Ask a Mexican Gustavo Arellano takes his tongue out of his cheek, just a little, to slap at the biggest pest plaguing our Latino communities--hipster redevelopment.

As Gustavo says, "Though the issue of gentrification rears its happy head in various manifestations, the most obvious front is food, battlefield for $17 burritos, "street" tacos and the ever-popular mezcal. I mention most of this in my latest ¡Ask a Mexican! video, which ridicules hipsters but nevertheless urges tolerance for their columbusing ways…. HA!"

I've been doing what I can to reeducate young Anglos moving in around me, but you can check out Gustavo's whole video for his game plan. And he'll be running around Aztlán (the Southwest, hipsters) plugging his Taco USA – How Mexican Food Conquered America book that I just love.

Es todo, hoy, 'cause I gotta go eat something,
RudyG, a.k.a. Chicano spec author Rudy Ch. Garcia, who just finished a time-travel story with a theme of--surprise!--hunger.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Digging the Past

From February 12 through May 29, Denver's Museo de las Americas presents CHICANO. Maruca Salazar, the Museo's Director and Curator of this exhibit, says in her Curatorial Statement:

"I have embraced the idea of CHICANO because it represents the future generations and the power of hybrids that gets us closer to the Raza Cosmica.

"The state of being a CHICANO is extemporaneous, and lives in the narrative of the movimiento, in clandestine books of dead poets, and in organizations that preserve the history of the brown people of the 20th Century."

Featured Artists: Carlos Fresquez, Delilah Montoya, Daniel Salazar & Francisco Zamora

This promises to be an exciting exhibit.  The featured artists are excellent; each has an admirable track record of provocative and stimulating art. Maruca's vision for the exhibit is refreshing, and her excitement contagious. She believes exhibit visitors will be blown away by the varied installations and the format of the exhibit overall. One of the artists, Carlos Fresquez, described to me his hard work on his project. It sounds as though Carlos will pay tribute, in his unique and often humorous manner, to the nostalgic past, the immediate present, and the optimistic future, as well as Batman. I'm sure the other artists also will stir the masses with their creative memorials to the concept of chicanismo.

One of the events linked to the exhibit is billed as "Conversacíon Contacto: Literature of the Movimiento with Mario Acevedo, Flor Lovato, and Manuel Ramos." This panel discussion takes place on February 27, 6:00 - 7:30 pm at the Museo. I've been preparing for this panel by going deep into my files and reading some early movement poetry.  Here are a few samples. I don't want to step on anybody's copyright toes, so these are only excerpts. 

First, selections from El Diario de la Gente (magazine published by the United Mexican American Students of the University of Colorado), Vol. 1, Issue 1 (Cinco de Mayo, 1973.)

From Houston to Austin  -  Abelardo Delgado
with one more little shove
i could return
        to myself
i could very easily become
the prodigal son

 And What Shall I Do Now? - Abelardo Delgado 
and what shall i do now ...?
asks the cleanly shaved, gum chewing man
from his wheel chair and sandaled feet.
now that the four walls in this
nursing home as well as the 
room mate are foreign, 
the manager, the nurse, the cleaning woman
... all strangers ... they don't even speak spanish.

 Time Has Come  - Tigre
So as I walk down the street full of human heart beats,
Yet gentle as the early morning rain ...
The undeclared scholars of the barrio.
We finally realize we had never known the meaning of
    peace at all.

Now a selection from El Grito, 1973 (edition entitled Chicanas En La Literatura y El Arte.)

Untitled - Adaljiza Sosa Riddell
I found you, Chicano,
but only for a moment,
Never para siempre,
Temilotzin died the morning after,
It's too late.
The world does not wait
for indecision,
neither do Chicanos.

This one from El Grito, 1968.

22 Miles - José Angel Gutiérrez
I've been told that I am dangerous.
That is because I am good at not being a Mexican.
That is because I know now that I have been cheated.
That is because I hate circumstances and love choices.
You know ... chorizo tacos y tortillas ARE good, even at school.
Speaking Spanish is a talent.
Being Mexican IS as good as Rainbo bread.

From Canto y Grito Mi Liberación, 1973.

Denver ... - Ricardo Sánchez (1970)
denver loneliness,
caught fragmented
neath neon anomie ...
Chicanismo rapped en inglés,
tatterdly worn
como jorongo engarrado 

From Infinite Divisions, 1993.

Mestiza - Marina Rivera (1977)
don't call me for the Chicanos,
nor for my parents,
nor for women.
summon me for myself,

Museo de las Americas Invites you to the Opening Reception of

February 12, 2015

Museo  de las Americas | 861 Santa Fe Drive | Denver | CO | 80204

Hope to see you at the exhibit and the panel discussion


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Chicanonautica: Charlie Hebdo, High Aztech and the Wages of Creative Blashphemy

Painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war for attack and defense against the enemy.” Pablo Picasso said it. The hero of my novel Cortez on Jupiter had it tattooed on his arm.

After all, art is a weapon, especially in our Information Age. The same can be said for cartooning.

As a cartoonist myself, news of the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, and the deaths of twelve people including some of the cartoonists, hit close to home. It was especially disturbing that the gunmen were offended by blasphemous cartoons.

When trying to explain what I do (it's always difficult) I like to call it creative blasphemy. Science fiction works when I try to put it into the context of our consumer society, but creative blasphemy is more accurate, and explains when I deviate from the traditional norms of sci-fi.

I'm aware of the trouble it can bring. I've got the scars. But I keep doing it. I can't help it. It's who and what I am.

I understand why the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists drew Muhammad even though Muslims consider it blasphemy. There is something about doing the forbidden. I've gone there myself.

There was an uneasy moment when I was reading the contract for the British edition of High Aztech. There was a blaphemy clause. I was supposed to assure them that the book was not blasphemous, when blasphemy was what I had in mind when I wrote it. Luckily, on closer reading I realized that they meant blasphemy against the Church of England – I never even mention the C of E in the novel! Funny how people don't care if you blaspheme against someone else's religion.

Nobody tried to kill me for writing High Aztech. They just tried to kill my career. New York still treats me like a talented leper.

I wouldn't draw a cartoon of Muhammad. Not that I'm afraid of terrorists killing me, but because I know Muslims. I help them at the library where I work, which is down the freeway from the local mosque. And on my side of town, hijabs are a common sight. I've met a lot of nice Muslims. I wouldn't want to insult them.

You have to watch out for collateral damage when weaponizing your art. As Chester Himes said “. . . all unorganized violence is like a blind man with a pistol.” We all need to keep our eyes open.

Also, since there's been a ban on images of Muhammad for centuries, nobody really knows what he looked like. My guess would be that he looked a lot like Jesus – the real one, not the blond marketing logo that the churches of Europe have sold the world. It may be the reason for the image ban.

Hell, it would make a great cartoon:

“Great Jesus T-shirt, dude!”

“It's Muhammad!”

Wouldn't have to draw the forbidden image in either.

But I don't think The New Yorker would buy it.

When cartoonists draw Muhammad, he ends up being a typical stereotypical Arab with a beard, big nose, and a turban. Switch the turban for a sombrero, shave the beard, leave a moustache, and he become a stereotypical Mexican. I'm often mistaken for an Arab, which can be dangerous in Arizona.

But then, cartooning is all about stereotypes. The difference comes in what you do with them.

It's too easy to insult murderous fanatics. Just fling a handy cliché and run. Hope you run fast enough.

Looking at the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, dispite their professed far-left agenda, they appeal to racism and xenophobia. Are there any non-white cartoonists on their staff? Any Muslims? Or Jews?

I've heard that these days in Paris, all the service jobs are filled by black people. It must be like being on a plantation in the Deep South before the Civil War. And more and more Arabs live in the suburbs. France is turning black and brown. Afrofuturism, mes amis.

I wonder who's laughing at these cartoons? People whose Parisian apartments are decorated with Picassos?

The surviving Charlie Hebdo cartoonists would do better if they targeted the minds of terrorists, not just confirming all their fears about Western civilization. Do some trickster clown televoodoo. Can you make them laugh? Breakdown their ridgid thinking, and invade their beliefs with alien images and ideas? Let's infect them with out mind-altering viruses!

Stépane Charbonnier, (AKA “Charb”) one of the murdered cartoonists said, “I'd rather die standing up than live on my knees.” He's now being quoted all over the interwebs.

He may have been quoting Emiliano Zapata, who said, “It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.” ¡Viva la Revoluçión!

Or should I say, steal this wisdom. Which reminds me of the words of Abbie Hoffman: “Free speech means the right to shout 'theater' in a crowded fire.”

Such theater. Such a crowded fire.

Ernest Hogan is addicted to creative blasphemy. It oozes out of his works. Your preconceptions are risk.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sofi and the Magic, Musical Mural / Sofi y el mágico mural musical

by Raquel M. Ortiz
Illustrated by Maria Dominguez
Spanish-language translation by Gabriela Baeza Ventura


Publication Date: May 31, 2015

Bind: Hardcover

Pages: 32

Ages: 4-8

A young girl is transported from her inner-city neighborhood 
to Viejo San Juan in this bilingual picture book
When Sofi walks through her barrio to the local store, she always passes a huge mural with images from Puerto Rico: musicians, dancers, tropical flowers and—her least favorite—a vejigante, a character from carnival that wears a scary mask.

One day on her way home from the bodega, she stops in front of the mural. Is one of the dancers inviting her to be his partner? “Okay, let’s dance,” Sofi giggles, and suddenly she’s in Old San Juan, surrounded by dancers and musicians playing bongos, tambourines and güiros. She begins to dance and sing with her new friends, but her pleasure turns to fear when the vejigante—wearing a black jumper with yellow fringe and a red, three-horned mask—spins her around and around! What does he want from her? How can she get away?

This story about an imaginative girl and a magical mural is an engaging exploration of Puerto Rico’s cultural traditions as well as an ode to public art and the community it depicts. Featuring Maria Dominguez’s lovingly rendered, colorful illustrations, this bilingual picture book introduces the topic of community art to children ages 4 to 8. After reading this book, children—and some adults too—will want to make and share their own artistic creations!

RAQUEL M. ORTIZ was born and raised in Lorain, Ohio, and has been making art and telling stories ever since she was a little girl. She holds a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from the University of Salamanca and has worked at The Brooklyn Museum, the Allen Memorial Art Museum and El Museo del Barrio. Raquel is the author of El arte de la identidad (Editorial Universidad de Granada, 2011), the documentary Memories on the Wall: Education and Enrichment through Community Murals and textbooks and educational materials for children in Puerto Rico and the United States. She lives in New York City and is a professor at Boricua College. This is her first picture book.

MARIA DOMINGUEZ moved from Cataño, Puerto Rico, to New York City when she was five years old. She began her artistic career as a muralist with Cityarts in 1982; that first experience with public art showed her that people can create art together for their community. Over the past twenty-five years, Maria has created over twenty public art murals and in 2001 was commissioned by with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York City. Presently, she continues to work with Artmakers, Inc. in New York City. The recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts, she has also headed El Museo del Barrio’s Education Department. She currently teaches art in New York City’s Public School System. This is her first picture book.