The best picture books that only Mexican authors (and illustrators) could have made

Who am I?

Hello! My name is Flavia Z. Drago and I'm a Mexican picturebook maker currently living with my partner and my cat in the UK. As a child, most of the books that I read came from foreign countries, particularly Europe and the US, and these have had a huge influence on my work as an author and illustrator. However, now that I'm in charge of making the books that I would have liked as a child, I enjoy adding details of my Mexican culture whenever possible. To some extent, the books that I've shared with you collect some of the stories, experiences, and emotions that as a Mexican have impacted my life.

I wrote...

Leila, the Perfect Witch

By Flavia Z. Drago,

Book cover of Leila, the Perfect Witch

What is my book about?

Leila Wayward is a little witch who excels at everything she does. She’s the fastest flier, the most cunning conjuror, and the best shape-shifter. She has won trophies for potions, herbology, and alchemy—and now she dreams of winning the Magnificent Witchy Cake-off! As the youngest in a long line of powerful experts in the Dark Arts of Patisserie, Leila wants her baking skills to be perfect. But even with the most bewitching of recipes, she realizes a terrible truth: she’s a disaster in the kitchen. Luckily, Leila has three magical sisters who are happy to share their secrets and help her.

Filled with quirky details and references to witches in folklore, pop culture, and history from Mexico and Europe, this picturebook is about the strength of family and sisterhood.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of To the Other Side

Flavia Z. Drago Why did I love this book?

I had the pleasure—and the privilege—of reading this book before it was published. Having lived for many years in Tijuana, and being a migrant herself, Erika Meza has an undeniable passion for children’s rights and the humanitarian crisis on the border between Mexico and the US. 

In this book, she deals with a complicated topic, the experience of children fleeing their home countries in order to seek stability and security, and how sometimes that experience can be in itself life-threatening and overwhelming. This book is more important than ever, as it deals with a horribly complicated, and sometimes gloomy topic in a sensitive, yet realistic way. Plus, the details of the Mexican masks are amazing!

By Erika Meza,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked To the Other Side as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Author-illustrator Erika Meza delivers a stunning and emotionally rich book from the viewpoint of those most impacted by border walls: young refugee children. This powerfully told tale highlights the spirit and strength of those embarking on a dangerous trek, and what awaits them on the other side.

My sister tells me the rules of the game are simple.

Avoid the monsters. Don’t get caught. And keep moving.

If the monsters catch you, you’re out.

A young boy and his older sister have left home to play a game. To win, they must travel across endless lands together and make it…

Book cover of The Book of Extraordinary Deaths: True Accounts of Ill-Fated Lives

Flavia Z. Drago Why did I love this book?

Death by tortoise shell, a lifeless head, excess of dance, or playing a concert? Based on true stories, in this impossible to catalogue book, you can find out the tragic, sometimes funny, but always incredible deaths of famous, and ordinary, people alike. 

What I love about this book is Cecilia’s sensitivity and witty sense of humor to deal with the illustrations. While some of the deaths depicted are brutal in nature, the images are never violent or morbid, but they are rather whimsical, poetic, and rather intriguing.

By Cecilia Ruiz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Book of Extraordinary Deaths as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Book of Extraordinary Deaths introduces readers to the bizarre demises of thinkers, writers, monarchs, artists, and notable nobodies throughout history. Beginning in the fifth century BC with the morbidly unusual death of Aeschylus and journeying chronologically to identical twins - who died on the same day - in the present day, readers will learn of people they may or may not have ever heard of, but will forever remember for their memorable final moments. With Ruiz's witty descriptions and beautiful illustrations, her characters come to life on the page even as they reach their demises.

Book cover of A New Home

Flavia Z. Drago Why did I love this book?

As a Mexican living in the UK, this story deeply speaks to me, as I truly identify with the characters in Tania’s book. This story reminded me of all of the complicated emotions of migrating, the things that I miss when I am not in Mexico, while reminding me of appreciating the present even more, as there are always things to appreciate, enjoy, and love wherever you are.

The illustrations of Tania are full of life, delicate, and convey in amazing detail the lively atmospheres of Mexico City and New York; the city where she was born, and the city where she currently lives.

By Tania de Regil,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A New Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

As a girl in Mexico City and a boy in New York City ponder moving to each other’s locale, it becomes clear that the two cities — and the two children — are more alike than they might think.

But I’m not sure I want to leave my home.
I’m going to miss so much.

Moving to a new city can be exciting. But what if your new home isn’t anything like your old home? Will you make friends? What will you eat? Where will you play? In a cleverly combined voice — accompanied by wonderfully detailed illustrations depicting parallel…

Book cover of Finding Home

Flavia Z. Drago Why did I love this book?

In 2017, Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Maria, and later on in September, an earthquake struck Mexico City, inspiring Estelí to write a story about a rabbit called Conejo, who loses his house after a storm strikes his neighborhood, but, with the help of others, he is able to rebuild what he had lost.

I think that it is very important to acknowledge and accept that sometimes in life, bad things will happen, plans will get ruined, and things will be lost, but that it is only with the help of others that we can stay strong, start again, and carry on. We need more books about kindness and a sense of community!

I love the textures, color, and sophisticated shapes of Estelí’s characters!

By Estelí Meza,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Finding Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

A powerful socio-emotional picture book about friendship and courage in the face of hardship.

When Conejo's house blows away in a storm, his friends and neighbors take turns helping him look for it. Though they do not find his house, they each send him on his way with good cheer and small gifts. Conejo is grateful for their support, but still finds himself sitting with sadness for some time. When the rain clears, Conejo finds the courage to rebuild. He fills his new home with the memories, love, and support he collected from his friends along the way.

Book cover of The Sea-Ringed World: Sacred Stories of the Americas

Flavia Z. Drago Why did I love this book?

I would have loved to have had this book in my childhood! As a child, I grew up reading myths and folk tales that came mostly from Europe, however, this book gives a glimpse of myths in America long before the colonization. Thanks to this book I discovered many myths from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego—or the Sea-Ringed World, as the Aztecs called itwhich sparked my curiosity in order to know more. Also, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that some of the stories were intertwined.

Even if this is not a picture book, I decided to include it because the stylish and sophisticated illustrations (of the multi-awarded) Mexican illustrator Amanda Mijangos, fill the spaces that the text is missing and add another level of reading to each one of the tales.

By Maria Garcia Esperon, Amanda Mijangos (illustrator), David Bowles (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sea-Ringed World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Fifteen thousand years before Europeans stepped foot in the Americas, people had already spread from tip to tip and coast to coast. Like all humans, these Native Americans sought to understand their place in the universe, the nature of their relationship with the divine, and the origin of the world into which their ancestors had emerged.

The answers lay in their sacred stories.

Author Maria Garcia Esperon, illustrator Amanda Mijangos, and translator David Bowles have gifted us a treasure. Their talents have woven this collection of stories from nations and cultures across our two continents-the Sea-Ringed World, as the Aztecs…

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Hatching Love

By Heidi Matonis,

Book cover of Hatching Love

Heidi Matonis Author Of Hatching Love

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Vegan Food entrepreneur Reader Animal lover

Heidi's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

This is a story of how the human-animal bond can heal, connect and redeem us all – even possibly a very jaded ghost!

The story opens with Tom’s wife, Beth, receiving a shipment of duck eggs. She has watched a YouTube video and was charmed by the idea of hatching a duck egg using her body temperature. She believes, either consciously or subconsciously, that hatching an egg will cure her malaise and set her on the path to finding joy. However, when she mistakenly orders a dozen eggs, she must find other people, who like her, are looking for something. She renames her project a “happiness experiment” in order to lure others to join her and posts it on Facebook.

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