My Havana: Memories of a Cuban Boyhood
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My Havana: Memories of a Cuban Boyhood

3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  87 ratings  ·  31 reviews
A young Cuban immigrant eases his homesickness by re-creating the city of Havana in a poignant tale that will resonate with readers today.

"You’re always drawing in that notebook of yours," Dino’s friend teases. To the small boy, 1950s Havana is alive with color, music, and glamour, and he itches to capture it on paper. When Fidel Castro and the Communist Party take over th...more
Hardcover, 72 pages
Published August 10th 2010 by Candlewick Press
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Newbery 2011
121st out of 147 books — 478 voters
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Children's Books with Hispanic Characters
28th out of 78 books — 27 voters


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Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Interesting story, based on the life of a real person, about a young boy from Havana, Cuba, just before Fidel Castro took power. Dino loves his home city, and misses it terribly when his parents move temporarily to Spain to help his uncle and his family. Dino also experiences what it's like to live under a dictator, as Spain was then ruled by Francisco Franco. The contrast between the color and architectural beauty of Havana and the drabness of Spain makes Dino all the more homesick. However, wh...more
Josiah
I would definitely rate this book at two and a half stars, and I gave some thought to rounding that up instead of down.

Anyone who has ever felt like a stranger in a strange land, not accepted by the people around them, will see at least a little bit of themselves in the real-life person of Dino Fernandez, a Cuban boy pushed out of his home country along with his parents when the despotic Fidel Castro comes to power. As hard as the transition is for a boy of ten, Dino was lucky to get out when...more
Erin Reilly-Sanders
I really liked the simplicity of this little story. The telling is rather gentle and beautifully arranged to paint a glowing portrait of Havana. I found the convenient comparisons between Dino's experiences in Spain and the events in Cuba really interesting, adding complexity to the story.
Summary: Hearing Secundino Fernandez’s story on the radio, Wells was touched by his memories of drawing the beautiful buildings of Havana before fleeing to America in 1959 due to the change of the government re...more
Kim
Grades 3-6

This fictionalized account of the childhood of architect Secundino (Dino) Fernandez may be short (only 65 pages), but Wells packs a lot of substance and history into Dino's story. Born in Havana in 1948, his "world is sweet" until he is 6 years old. The weather is always warm, the buildings are beautiful colors, and he is surrounded by family and friends. However, they must travel to Spain in 1954 to help an injured relative, and when they return to Havana in 1956, the atmosphere has...more
M.
Secundino Fernandez loved his home city of Havana. When he was about 6, he and his parents moved to Spain to help his uncle who had been injured in an accident. Secundino missed Havana dreadfully and was very happy to get back there after two years in Spain. His favorite activity was making drawings of Havana's buildings and building details. And then, when he was 10, Fidel Castro took over Cuba. People were shot in the street, Secundino's uncle lost his business when it was nationalized, and Se...more
Ed
Dec 05, 2012 Ed added it
Wells, Rosemary with Secundino Fernandez. (2010). My Havana: Memories of a Cuban Boyhood. Illustrated by Peter Ferguson. Boston: Candlewick. 65 pp. ISBN 978-0-7636-4305-8 (Hard Cover); $17.99.

Anyone who has moved from a loved neighborhood or home will appreciate the wistful, lyrical novel based on the memories of architect, Secundino Fernandez with whom Wells collaborated to craft this beautiful story. Dino’s grandfather, Marcelino, has built the homes of presidents. Dino loves these buildings,...more
Sarah Sammis
Dec 07, 2011 Sarah Sammis rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Sarah by: my son
I'm not sure when my interest in Havana started. Maybe it was the film Our Man in Havana or the Graham Greene book that inspired it. Or maybe it was the book simply called Havana which had a bunch of excerpts about the city.

Regardless of what started my interest in the city and more broadly, Cuba, I had to read My Havana by Rosemary Wells when I saw it on display in the children's library. The book is a biography of Cuban American architect, Secundino "Dino" Fernandez

Fernandez was born in Havana...more
Heather
A wonderful story - made me cry! Dino was a young boy during the 50s, living in Cuba with his family. He loved his home city of Havana and spent a lot of time sketching his favorite buildings and bits of architecture. When he was 6, his parents took him with them to Spain to help out family, and they learned first-hand what life was like under dictator Franco. Two years later they returned to Havana, but not long after returning to their home, Castro took over the Cuban government. Dino's family...more
Beth
Aug 17, 2014 Beth added it
Before reading this book, I was only aware of Rosemary Wells' picture books for K-3. This biography (mistakenly marked as fiction in the CIP) of Dino Fernandez tells of his family's life as they leave Havana when Fidel Castro takes over until his family settles in New York City. This story is told from Dino's point of view which makes the story more personal.
Raquel
Touching story told from the perspective of a young Cuban boy during the Cuban Revolution of the 1950s. Dino loves his Havana, especially the architecture which he so carefully sketches. However, circumstances take him away from his beloved home. First it's a 2 year stint in Spain to help out family and then it's a permanent move to New York City to escape the encroaching regime and the changes to the country that Dino's parents won't accept.

Stories about emigration from the Caribbean never get...more
Karen
Dino's father tells him, "we live in a city built by angels." And Havana is Dino's city of dreams even after the family immigrates to NYC. A fictionalized true story of a young boy in love with doors, and walls and the life within, who eventually becomes an architect. I very much liked Dino's relationship with the built world. Also the linking between dictators of different kinds (Franco, Battista, Castro). And I've always liked anything about Cuba, which fascinates me. (Someday, someday, I'll g...more
Victoria Whipple
My grandmother used to always tell me how her favorite place she ever visited was Havana. After reading this book, I want to go too! This is the ficitonalized retelling of the childhood of architect Secundino Fernandez. As a boy Dino loved to roam the city and sketch pictures of Havana. As revolution looms, Dino's father grows concerned. The family goes to Spain for a time to help out family members, and soon after they return to Havana, they decide to flee Cuba and go to New York. Dino hates th...more
Mrswash
My Havana is a journey from sunny Cuba to the snow fallen street of the United States for the Fernandez family. Dino loved Havana, he carries his sketch pad with him trying to capture everything. His family has weathered good and bad times. Their coming to Miami and the New York was sudden. Fearful for their lives they left the place they loved and arrived a place thy barely knew. Rosemary Wells and Secunino Fernandez tell the story in a way that puts you wherever Dino is. You can feel his fears...more
Renee
Jan 30, 2011 Renee rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 3rd-5th
3.5 Up until the age of 6 Secundino Fernandez lives in Havana, Cuba. After Fidel Castro and the Communist Party take over Cuba, Secundino and his family leave Havana for New York. Secundino struggles to adjust to a new culture. This short chapter book (62 pages) has several gray scale sketches as well as color illustrations a few photographs. Though the illustrations make people's faces look strange, they do help to picture what Cuba looked like. As explained in the Author’s Note, this is fictio...more
AEF
what was the writer thinking?

at least I enjoyed the pictures.
Jenny Mock
Interesting story! I loved the illustrations and drawings.
Phoebe
Not a very memorable addition to the recent spate of kids' and teen titles about growing up in Cuba. Wells tells the story of architect Secundino Fernandez and his early years in Havana, but there isn't much tension to the story since his family emigrated to New York just as Castro came into power. I guess the story could be interesting from a vocational point of view, showing Dino's passion for structures and his beloved Havana and how this formed the basis for his career choice. 5th grade and...more
Tanja
This piece of historical fiction narrates a boys journey from Cuba to Spain and later from Cuba to the US - each time trying to escape a dictatorship. Based on a Cuban architect's childhood experiences, Rosemary Wells has done an amazing job in taking the reader back in time and place. In addition, the book has brilliant sketches of buildings from several cities. Quick but worth-wile read!
Carol Chapman
I wouldn't normally list a book for kids here, but this is a very good one! I'm planning to teach a unit on Cuba, Castro, dictatorships, etc., and this is a perfect lead-in to that. I enjoyed reading it as an adult (it's a very quick read), and I think the kids will really enjoy it. Great for kids 9 and up.
Ashley
An interesting perspective on a history that kids don't hear much about, the Cuban Revolution. Dino shares memories of his heartache over leaving his home in Havana by describing its beauty and vibrant people, and his slow acceptance of New York as his new home.
Melanie Au
A quick snapshot of a boy's childhood -- focused mainly on his personal experience of immigrating to NY, and less on dictatorship in Cuba. Illustrations and short text make it suitable for primaries and early elementary.
Janice  Durante
Mar 02, 2011 Janice Durante rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: teachers with immigration unit
See my review of this lovely little historical novel at Books of Wonder & Wisdom

Janet Frost
Beautiful illustrations grace this simple telling of a complex issue. The protagonist tells his story of leaving his beloved Cuba and the ensuing homesickness.
Elisabeth W.  Rauch
The art work is beautiful and I think this is a very interesting perspective on Cuba that is frequently missing from the conversation.
Traci
Not only was the story good but the pictures were beautiful! This story made me want to visit to see the beautiful buildings and people.
Laura Harpham
Interesting story-beautiful pictures -detailing the life of a cuban-american architect's boyhood in Cuba, Spain and New York.
Sarah
Loved it! Sweet story, easy to read with and discuss with kids. Opens my eyes to a new world. Great for budding architectures.
Melody Philbrick
Illustrations best part of book. No one reading it - library discarded the book.
Heather
A good story with beautiful illustrations, but I wish it had been a little bit longer.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Rosemary Wells is the author of a number of popular children's books, most notably the Max and Ruby series which follows the everyday adventures of sibling bunnies - curious three year old Max and bossy seven year old Ruby. She gets the inspiration for Max and Ruby from her two daughters and the experiences they...more
More about Rosemary Wells...
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