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Cuba in My Pocket

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By the author of 2021 Pura Belpré Honor Book The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez, a sweeping, emotional middle grade historical novel about a twelve-year-old boy who leaves his family in Cuba to immigrate to the U.S. by himself, based on the author's family history.


SCBWI Golden Kite Honor Book

Kirkus Best Book of 2021

Starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and Publisher's Weekly

Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection

NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People '22

District of Columbia Capitol Choices Book 2022

Read Aloud Indiana, Middle Grade 2024

Michigan MISelf in Books, 2022

South Carolina Junior Book Award, 2023-2024

Spirit of Texas Reading Program, 2022

I don’t remember. Tell me everything, Pepito. Tell me about Cuba.

When the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 solidifies Castro’s power in Cuba, twelve-year-old Cumba’s family makes the difficult decision to send him to Florida alone. Faced with the prospect of living in another country by himself, Cumba tries to remember the sound of his father’s clarinet, the smell of his mother’s lavender perfume.

Life in the United States presents a whole new set of challenges. Lost in a sea of English speakers, Cumba has to navigate a new city, a new school, and new freedom all on his own. With each day, Cumba feels more confident in his new surroundings, but he continues to wonder: Will his family ever be whole again? Or will they remain just out of reach, ninety miles across the sea?

A Kirkus Best Children's Book of the Year

"...Cuevas’ latest is a triumph of the heart...A compassionate, emotionally astute portrait of a young Cuban in exile."


"Cuevas’ intense and immersive account of a Cuban boy’s experience after the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion brings a specific point in history alive."

"Cuevas packs this sophomore novel with palpable emotions and themes of friendship, love, longing, and trauma, attentively conveying tumultuous historical events from the lens of one young refugee." — Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

International Editions

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