Title: My Havana: Memories of a Cuban Boyhood
Author: Rosemary Wells, with Secundino Fernandez
Illustrator: Peter Ferguson
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Concepts: economic role of government, allocation and distribution, scarcity, immigration, entrepreneurship
Review: During the first six years of his life, Dino Fernandez lived in Havana, Cuba – a city built by angels, as his father fondly liked to claim. Dino may have been even more enamored of the city than his parents. He especially admired the architecture and could spend hours drawing buildings, domes, and courtyards in his sketchbooks.
It thus came as a rude shock when a family emergency led Dino and his parents to leave Havana for Spain. For a two-year period marked by frugal living under Spain’s dictatorial Franco regime, Dino struggled with intense homesickness as he longed for Havana’s splendor and friendlier way of life. Upon returning home, however, he learned that Cuba’s own political problems would make it impossible for his parents to continue operating their restaurant in Havana. Leaving Cuba permanently proved heart-wrenching for Dino until he found comfort in building his own kind of Havana.
Based on the personal recollections of New York City-based architect Secundino Fernandez, My Havana offers readers a unique glimpse of Havana and its inhabitants in pre-Communist times. The narrative blends in several economics concepts, including the economic role of government in socialist economies and the importance of small business opportunities for supporting household well-being. Exquisite illustrations add a visually appealing element and help readers to better understand Dino’s attachment to Havana’s culture and architecture.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children