The birth of a bilingual children’s book about immigration



I began writing Luca’s Bridge sometime in 2015, but I didn’t know what the story was about. I just had the image of a young boy, Luca, waving goodbye through the backseat window of his car. On any given day, this car would have been cheerfully pulsating with the waves of music, with unabashed singing, with contagious laughter, but not today.

No, today was a blue day, a day of changes that Luca didn’t quite understand.

In the car were his mother, father, and brother. His brother was angry. He didn’t want to go either.


That is when I learned his story. Luca took my hand and allowed me to write this important moment in his family’s life.

I jumped to research once I had a first draft. After reading several children’s books about immigration, especially those that in one way or another, talked about unauthorized immigrants, something caught my attention: in most of these books, the authorized parents or grandparents were waiting for their green card or some other sort of resolution that would fix their migratory status.

Of course, I know this is the ideal scenario for all unauthorized immigrants, but was it realistic?

I felt insecure about the story. Luca’s Bridge wasn’t a fairy tale. A green card couldn’t magically appear and solve their lives. That would not feel authentic.

Digging through some internet articles, I found one on De Colores Book Review. THIS ARTICLE confirmed my suspicion: there were not enough children’s books that dealt with all aspects of immigration, including the ugly ones. And that is when I decided to go with my gut. Luca’s Bridge would not sugar coat a persistent problem in our society and would tell a realistic fictional story, one I had seen on several news articles, like THIS ONE.

Illustration by Anna Lopez Real

But, not because a story deals with a crude reality means that magic can’t take place. Actually, real life is full of magical moments. And it happens that when we are at our lowest point, we are able to open ourselves to those special feelings of gratitude and joy. Sentiments that feel like magic.

So, that is how Luca’s Bridge came about. It’s not only about a story about deportation or immigration. It is a story of life, of love, of finding hope in the most hopeless situations.

I am grateful for Chad Reynolds and Alexis Orguera of Penny Candy Books for believing in Luca’s story and having my back all the way. I’m also thankful that we found Anna Lopez Real who added such beauty to the story with her dreamy illustrations.

Enjoy Luca’s Bridge/El Puente de Luca, and allow his story to open a window to your heart. There are stories that need to be told, stories that need to be heard, and I believe, this is one of them.

Purchase Luca’s Bridge, a BILINGUAL (English/Spanish) story about immigration and deportation, at the following links:



Or request it at your local bookstore or library!

Thanks to all of you for your support. I hope Luca’s story is heard far and wide.


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Mariana Llanos

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I’m Mariana Llanos and I write books for children and poetry in English and Spanish. I am originally from Lima, Peru, but now I live in Oklahoma with my husband, our three children and our dog, Juliet. I started writing poetry since I was very young. I loved reading so much that I wanted to create my own stories to share with the world. I published my first book, Tristan Wolf in 2013. Since then, I haven’t stopped, and I have many more stories, poems, and project that I want to share with YOU!

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