Born in Cuba; married Jim Reynold; children: Stephanie, Amanda. Education: Florida State University, B.A., 1971, M.A., 1980.
Agent—Reynold Public Relations, Inc., 7301 S.W. 7th St., Plantation, FL 33317. E-mail—[email protected]
PEN American Center.
Un día con mis tías/A Day with My Aunts (bilingual picture book), illustrated by Christina Rodriguez, Piñata (Houston, TX), 2006.
FOR YOUNG ADULTS
Jumping Off to Freedom, Piñata (Houston, TX), 1996.
Fitting In (short stories), Piñata (Houston, TX), 1996.
Loves Me, Loves Me Not, Piñata (Houston, TX), 1998.
Author's works have been published in Spanish.
Born in Cuba, Anilú Bernardo experienced firsthand the difficulties of fitting in when her family fled Communist leader Fidel Castro's takeover in 1961 and moved to Miami, Florida. She spoke little English when she began school in the United States, but she wrote poems in Spanish and later went on to write fiction in both languages.
For Bernardo's first novel, Jumping Off to Freedom, she interviewed balseros, Cuban men and women who made the voyage from Cuba on rafts, to develop the story of David. Unwilling to continue living under Castro, David's father builds a raft on which he, David, and another refugee can escape to the United States. As the three are leaving, another refugee, Toro, demands to be taken along. Jumping Off to Freedom tells a story of survival, as David faces sharks, storms, and both physical and emotional trauma. Eventually, he learns to trust Toro and that trust makes it possible for the group to reach Florida alive. In Booklist Anne O'Malley wrote that ‘survival story fans and readers looking for breath taking action will not be disappointed’ in Bernardo's high-action tale.
Fitting In, a collection of short stories, draws on Bernardo's experiences upon arriving in the United States: each of the five tales features a Cuban-American teen struggling to find a place among her peers. The stories ‘speak with a lively and authentic accent about the angst of bicultural, female adolescence,’ wrote Annie Ayres in Booklist. Esther Celis, writing for Skipping Stones, noted that, with effort, people can usually find something in common and in Fitting In Bernardo ‘communicates this with humor and eloquence."
Loves Me, Loves Me Not, a teen romance, ‘has depth in characterization and a recognizable Latino ambience,’ according to Booklist contributor Sally Estes. In the novel, Cuban-American teenager Maggie has a crush on cute basketball player Zach, whom she tutors in German. Maggie's friend Susie, trying to win over a boy named Carlos, suggests that she and Maggie double date, pairing up Maggie with Justin, the new boy at school. Although on the surface Bernardo's novel is about dating, it also deals with cultural misconceptions and prejudice and with Maggie's growing maturity and her realization that there is more to a person than what shows on the surface.
Along with her works for young adults, Bernardo has also penned a bilingual picture book for very young readers. Un día con mis tías/A Day with My Aunts is the story of a girl's day with her three aunts as well as a celebration of Cuban-American culture. From making empanadas to dancing the salsa, the narrator's day is full of family fun. ‘This story spills over with life, laughter, food, and music,’ noted Maria Otero-Boisvert in School Library Journal. A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that ‘Bernardo's story is full of family activity,’ and added that recipes for the food featured in the story's text are included in both Spanish and English in the endpapers.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklinks, January, 2005, Mayra Daniel and Chris Liska Carger, review of Fitting In, p. 54.
Booklist, May 1, 1996, Anne O'Malley, review of Jumping Off to Freedom, p. 1498; December 15, 1996, Annie Ayres, review of Fitting In, p. 721; January 1, 1999, Sally Estes, review of Loves Me, Loves Me Not, p. 854; September 15, 1999, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Loves Me, Loves Me Not, p. 249.
Book Report, September-October, 1996, Alma Marie Walls, review of Jumping Off to Freedom, p. 35.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2006, review of Un día con mis tías/A Day with My Aunts, p. 1065.
Publishers Weekly, September 16, 1996, review of Fitting In, p. 84.
School Library Journal, July, 1996, Gerry Larson, review of Jumping Off to Freedom, p. 98; November, 1996, Melissa Hudak, review of Fit-ting In, p. 120; October, 2006, Maria Otero-Boisvert, review of Un día con mis tías/A Day with My Aunts, p. 144.
Skipping Stones, March-April, 1997, Esther Celis, review of Fitting In, p. 7.
Voice of Youth Advocates, June, 1996, review of Jumping Off to Freedom, p. 92; April, 1997, review of Fitting In, p. 27; August, 1999, review of Loves Me, Loves Me Not, p. 182.
Arte Público Press Web site,http://www.arte.uh.edu/ (October 19, 2007), ‘Anilú Bernardo."