Desert Song By Laekan Zea Kemp, Beatriz Gutiérrez Hernández (Illustrator) Cover Image
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A family joins the music of the Texas desert night in this tale of tradition and memory from Pura Belpré Honor author Laekan Zea Kemp.

It starts with a soft tapping,
Uncle Eduardo drumming his
hands against his dusty jeans.

As the blush of sunset gives way to night in the desert, coyotes, cicadas, and barn owls emerge, each calling out to the moon. Watching from their porch, the family joins the song. One by one, each relative offers their drums, flute, maracas, strings, and voices. 

They sing with the insects, birds, snakes and toads; and they sing with their ancestors, an audience glittering in the stars overhead. With each strum of passed-down instruments, memories renew, and those gone are alive and near again.

Desert Song hums and chimes with all the music a front porch and the desert beyond can hold. Pura Belpré Honor author Laekan Zea Kemp’s masterfully stirring text dances through Beatriz Gutierrez Hernandez’s enchanting and dynamic artwork. Readers will be left with the soothing sense that when creativity flourishes, the past is never out of reach, and the bonds that matter never break.

Simultaneously published in Spanish as Canción del desierto.

About the Author

Laekan Zea Kemp is a writer living in Austin, Texas. She is the author of A Crown for Corina, Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet, which was a 2022 Pura Belpré Honor Recipient, and several other novels. She has three objectives when it comes to storytelling: to make people laugh, cry, and crave Mexican food. Her work celebrates Chicane grit, resilience, creativity, and joy while exploring themes of identity and mental health.

Beatriz Gutiérrez Hernández is an illustrator and animator born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico. She graduated from Pratt Institute with a BFA in Communications Design and lived in Brooklyn, New York, for several years. She is the illustrator of Dreams from Many Rivers, written by Margarita Engle, and the author and illustrator of Benito Juárez Fights for Justice. She splits her time between New York and Mexico.

Praise For…

★ "Kemp’s poetic text conveys the desert sky’s magnificence. . . Gutiérrez Hernández's delicately stylized illustrations excel. . . Perfectly orchestrated: brava!."—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
★ "[A] lyrical picture book."—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Product Details
ISBN: 9780823453924
ISBN-10: 0823453928
Publisher: Neal Porter Books
Publication Date: June 4th, 2024
Pages: 40
Language: English