[Cover Reveal] Clemente, Corazón de Pueblo: Illustrating the Politics around Roberto Clemente

We are delighted to bring you the exclusive cover reveal for Puerto Rican children's author Wanda I. De Jesús Arvelo’s forthcoming children's book, Clemente, Corazón de Pueblo, a picture book biography of the legendary Puerto Rican baseball player, Roberto Clemente. Rosa Colón, who was a Featured Illustrator in our May 2018 issue, illustrated the book. Victor Maldonado is the book's designer.

Clemente, Corazón de Pueblo is the third book in the Los Súper Gigantes children's book series, a project of the Municipio Autonomo de Carolina (Autonomous Municipality of Carolina) and the Fundación Puertorriqueña de las Humanidades (Puerto Rican Foundation of the Humanities). Each book in the collection highlights a historical figure who has made important contributions to Puerto Rico and the wider world.

In Carolina, Land of Giants, we have many heroes.
Our Roberto Clemente is one of them.
Childhood hero. Sports hero.
Hero to justice. Hero to solidarity.
This is his story.

Ready to see the cover? Watch the video below, then keep reading to learn more about Colón's process illustrating the book, as told by herself.


Roberto Clemente was an exceptional Puerto Rican baseball player, equally remembered for his illustrious sports career, as for being charitable and outspoken against injustices. Thus, it was no surprise to me that the text for Clemente, Corazón de Pueblo, Wanda I. De Jesús Arvelo’s forthcoming children’s book that I am very proud to have illustrated, was full of history and politics. In order to understand Clemente’s success and extraordinary empathy, one must first understand the events that shaped him into the man everyone admires.

“¿Tiene un obrero el derecho a exigir trato justo?
¡Por supuesto que sí!”

[Does a worker have the right to demand fair treatment?
Of course!]

The Puerto Rican people are suffering but not broken and I wanted that strength to show in my illustration. The color palette is nostalgic without being too sad. I wanted to depict jíbaros (workers) as active and angry, the opposite of the passive or even happy worker in the cane field trope.

“Melchor trabaja de sol a sol
y es justo y solidario
con los obreros que laboran con él.”

[Melchor works from sun up to sun down
And is just and shows solidarity
With the workers who toil with him.]

Clemente learned empathy from his parents, Melchor and Luisa. I illustrated the workers’ clothes to look dirty but not disheveled. Their hands are cut and scarred but still strong.

“Detestaba el discrimen,
las comparaciones,
el trato condescendiente
y el intento de asimilarlo a una cultura que no era la suya.”

[He detested discrimination,
the comparisons,
the condescending treatment
and the attempts to assimilate him to a culture that wasn’t his own]

This spread was a bit challenging. Adding too many scenes depicting racism and the civil rights struggles would’ve been too overwhelming for kids. For this story, it’s more important to show how Clemente is reacting to the racism. I hope that the page works as a conversation starter for teachers and parents.

Adding historical context to children’s stories will spark curiosity about the past and the future. It gives them a way to understand complex situations and can build empathy for different lived experiences. Our children carry the burden of an uncertain future; we need children’s books that help prepare them to fight for it.

Clemente, Corazón de Pueblo hits shelves this summer.

About the Illustrator

Rosa Colón is an illustrator and comic artist based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She has a BA from the University of Puerto Rico and an MA from the University of Brighton, UK, and is passionate about storytelling in sequential art and illustration. She has self-published her comics with her friend, Carla Rodríguez, for over ten years. They are the creators of Soda Pop Comics, the first all female comic collective in Puerto Rico, and Tintero, a comics and art fest focusing on Puerto Rican artists. Rosa has been focusing on non-fiction comics and her work can be found at The Nib and the Eisner nominated anthology Puerto Rico Strong by Lion Forge. Visit her on Twitter: @sodapopcomics, Facebook: @sodapopcomics, and on the web at

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About Anansesem

Anansesem is an online magazine of Caribbean children's and young adult literature by adults and children. We strive to bring you the best in news, reviews and creative content from the world of Caribbean children's publishing.
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