Our Roof Is Blue
Sara E. Echenique, author
Sara E. Echenique grew up preparing for and surviving hurricanes in Puerto Rico. This is her first picture book.
Read more about Sara.
Ashley Vargas, illustrator
Ashley Vargas is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology's Illustration BFA program. This is her first picture book.
Read more about Ashley.
- Coming soon!
A Puerto Rican girl and her storytelling brother, Antonio, survive a powerful hurricane that rips the roof off of their home.
The trauma of the storm silences Antonio, and he is no longer able to share his gift of stories. A blue tarp covers the house until they can replace it with a new roof—a daily reminder of the storm and the damage it caused. Still, the siblings find joy in the situation, imagining that the blue hue cast by sunlight through the tarp is the water of the ocean or envisioning the shadows as macaws and herons in the jungle. The protagonist promises to help Antonio find his voice. Eventually, the roof is replaced, and Antonio regains his speech, ready to share his stories once again. In their newly mended home, the family finds a creative way to honor the blue tarp that sheltered them. The story and a note from the author bring an important focus to the continued recovery of Puerto Rico after devastating hurricanes such as 2017’s Irma and Maria and the challenges that Puerto Ricans continue to face as they rebuild. Vargas’ art has a scribbly, childlike feeling that makes the tale relatable despite its potentially scary subject. The siblings and their parents have brown skin and curly brown hair.
Healing, both physical and emotional, is eased through the power of story. (hurricane and climate change information, ways children can help)
Two Puerto Rican siblings find their footing after a hurricane removes their home’s roof in Echenique’s reassuring picture book debut. An unnamed narrator describes their nightly ritual before the storm: falling asleep while brother Antonio “told me magical stories.” As the hurricane approaches, the two test flashlights and lanterns, “just in case,” and the family prepares “for anything that could blow our way.” When it hits, though, and rain comes in beneath the doors, they retreat to a closet, later discovering that “the storm had blown our white-gray roof right off.” While the family stays with relatives for a few days, then covers the roof with a temporary blue tarp, Antonio stops speaking. The narrator promises to help find his voice as the two launch into flights of fancy, and a new roof provides an opportunity to acknowledge the event. Vargas’s digital illustrations amplify childhood emotions with lightning bolt, swirl, and star motifs. Back matter ties hurricanes and climate change to simple adoptable actions. Ages 5–8.
At their home in Puerto Rico, Antonio would always tell his sister a story before bed. One night, a huge hurricane blows the roof off the children’s house, and a blue tarp becomes the temporary replacement. The children go on a series of adventures under the blue tarp, such as exploring the deep sea and using blue parachutes to float down from the sky. But now when Antonio’s sister asks him to tell her a story, he remains quiet. She promises him they’ll find his voice again soon. A month passes, and the children’s family and friends gather to fix the roof. Once it is repaired, their mother tells them they can paint their new ceiling any color they’d like. Antonio’s sister asks what color he wants, but he doesn’t answer. Again, she reassures him that they will soon find his voice. A few nights later, the children’s mother asks if they’ve decided on a color yet. Antonio has an idea, and suggests they should paint the ceiling blue. Afterwards, Antonio’s sister asks him to tell her a story, and he agrees. He goes on to tell her a tale of a brave girl who lives through a big storm. Echenique’s story pairs with Vargas’ illustrations to create a very real, emotional, and heartwarming book. Children who may have experienced a natural disaster or another difficult event are encouraged to see there is hope at the end of the storm. This book teaches children how to talk about their emotions and includes words that can be used to describe how they feel. Overall, it is a beautiful book that shows a family’s way of coping with adversity and overcoming a difficult situation together.
Page count: 32
9 x 9