Junot Díaz wants you to know what children’s books can do. His first venture into the genre, “Islandborn,” follows a young girl named Lola as she tries to remember the Island, the country she left as a baby. She tracks details through memories from family and friends, all of which are vividly illustrated by Leo Espinosa in brightly colored pages—that is, until a dark, shadowy “Monster” interrupts Lola’s cheerful narrative.
“I was hoping this book wouldn’t just be a comment on little Lola and her lovely family and this larger island community from which she comes,” Díaz says. “I was hoping it would also be something of a dialogue about what children’s literature is capable of.”