From Sketch to Final: Abuelita and I Make Flan, Part 1

page from ABUELITA AND I MAKE FLAN by Adriana Hernandez Bergstrom

The story of ABUELITA AND I MAKE FLAN is a combination of several real-life events. I was inspired to capture a moment in time where it felt like everything was going wrong as a kid, but still able to find safety and love from my grandparents who accepted me as an imperfect child deserving of love. Anita, the main character, is a blend of real life people in my own family including myself. The Abuelita character was drawn from a combination of several real-life people including my great aunt, both my grandmas and their friends. 

What’s real-life inspiration and what’s not? I really did break a wedding dish, but it belonged to my mother, not my abuelita. The truth is my family did not bring much more than their suitcases with them from Cuba. I really did - and still do! - make a LOT of flan, but I helped my great-aunt, Marta, who had severe arthritis doing all the things Anita does in the book. In real life, I did more crafts like sewing, crochet, and cake decorating with my grandma. I chose flan because it’s delicious and it reminds me of our big family get-togethers which I miss very much.

I started work on ABUELITA AND I MAKE FLAN back in 2017. It was in large part thanks to SCBWI which connected me to a critique group which then led to a mentorship program at WNDB, critiques at SCBWI conferences, Highlights Foundation courses, Storyteller Academy and other educational resources and eventually my agent! Community has been pivotal for growth and feedback in the publishing world, and the success of this title making it to bookshelves everywhere.

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