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Author’s new book looks to hit home

Alyssa Reynoso-Morris
Photo credit: Eissell Fernandez

If there were a book written about Alyssa Reynoso-Morris, it might be titled, From English Language Learner to Award-Winning Published Author.

Reynoso-Morris, 34, a Castor Gardens resident, has long wanted to be a published author.

“It’s a goal I had since I was 7 years old,” she said.

But she thought the goal was unattainable because she was an English language learner in what she called an underfunded and under-resourced school in the Bronx. She learned to read by fourth grade, and that gave her the inspiration and voice to pursue her dream.

As a young adult, Reynoso-Morris began journaling while working a variety of jobs, including as chief of staff for state Rep. Jared Solomon, in the witness protection program for the United Nations and nonprofits. Those jobs included writing grants, fundraising appeals, press releases, newsletters and website content.

She became really serious about her writing in 2016, as she started working on manuscripts and seeing it as a career path.

By 2020, she had a literary agent.

“Getting a literary agent is very challenging,” she said, especially so for children’s books.

Reynoso-Morris did all the other things a budding author needs to do, joining organizations such as the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) to network with others.

As she dreamed of getting her first book published, she did a lot of rewriting, marketing and collaborating with an illustrator, artistic director and editors.

Last year, Simon & Schuster published her Platanos are Love, a picture book about the way plantains shape Latinx culture, community and family, told through a young girl’s experiences in the kitchen with her abuela (grandmother).

To market the book, printed in English and Spanish, she held 67 events at places such as schools, book fairs and libraries. More than 10,000 copies sold in six months, and the book was critically received.

“Every time I did an event, my batteries would recharge,” she said.

Later in 2023, Hachette Book Group – like Simon & Schuster, a Big Five publisher – published her The Bronx is My Home, a love letter to the Bronx and a picture book celebration of hometown pride in the history, landscape, cultures and activities of the borough.

Now, Hachette Book Group published the third book by Reynoso-Morris. Gloriana, Presente: A First Day of School Story came out on July 9. It’s a painted, imaginative picture book told through the character of Gloriana, a young girl finding her voice and overcoming her fears – a journey mirroring that of the author. The book is available in English and Spanish.

Gloriana began as a manuscript in 2016.

“It took the longest to finish,” Reynoso-Morris said. “It’s finally out in the world after almost a decade.”

Reynoso-Morris said the book should resonate with all children and families, as they can relate to the first day of school. She believes it will particularly touch immigrant families as they read of the main character’s nervousness.

“It highlights the struggles of English language learners,” she said. “I think it’s going to hit home with a lot of people. It’s the perfect book for them.”

To promote Gloriana, Reynoso-Morris has events planned in Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C. She expects momentum to pick up as the new school year nears.

The launch was on July 13 at Julia de Burgos Bookstore, located inside Taller Puertorriqueno, 2600 N. 5th St.

Next year, Reynoso-Morris plans to release two more books. Pieces of Home will be a picture book about two sisters who are collecting memories of their neighborhood as they are about to move. Bold, Brilliant and Latine will be an illustrated anthology of 52 Latine heroes. ••

Gloriana, Presente is available at https://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/alyssa-reynoso-morris/gloriana-presente/9780316366618/

For more information and to buy all of her books, visit AlyssaAuthor.com

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