Exclusive Cover Reveal: A Girl Named Rosita. The Story of Rita Moreno: Actress, Singer, Dancer, Trailblazer!

We are delighted to bring you the exclusive cover reveal for Anansesem contributor Anika Aldamuy Denise's upcoming picture book biography, A Girl Named Rosita. The Story of Rita Moreno: Actress, Singer, Dancer, Trailblazer!. The book, from HarperCollins, will be out on November 3, 2020, just ahead of the film release of Steven Spielberg’s re-imagined West Side Story and the new American Masters PBS documentary about Rita produced by Norman Lear and Lin Manuel Miranda.

Watch the cover reveal video below, then keep reading to learn more about the book.

Anika Aldamuy Denise on A Girl Named Rosita:
I was a musical-theater nerd as a kid. My favorite play was West Side Story because it was the only show I knew of about people who looked like me. When my summer theater camp did the show, I knew I didn’t have the voice for Maria (or Anita), but that didn’t stop me from singing "America" into my hairbrush and watching the film on repeat in preparation for auditions. Rita Moreno was the most beautiful and talented actress and dancer I’d ever seen. And she was Puerto Rican, like me. Watching her in West Side Story—and on The Muppet Show and The Electric Company—made me feel seen. I never forgot the feeling.

Years later, I met Rita at my aunt and uncle’s house. As friends of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in upstate New York, they hosted Rita and her husband for dinner. I was too star-struck to speak! Afterwards, I regretted being so shy. I wished I had thanked her for her talent, perseverance, and activism.

So, this book is my thank you. I’ve heard people say Rita Moreno is "back in the spotlight," with all the recent attention she’s received for her television work, prestigious awards, and the Oscar dress(!), but the truth is, Rita Moreno never left. She has always been here, entertaining and inspiring us. I hope her story encourages young readers to work hard, dream big, and not let others define them. That’s what Rita did for me.

Synopsis from the publisher:

Pura Belpré Honor winner Anika Aldamuy Denise (Planting Stories) and New York Times bestselling illustrator Leo Espinosa (Islandborn) tell the story of Rita Moreno, the Puerto Rican superstar best known for her Oscar-winning performance in the original West Side Story film, in this gorgeous picture book biography.

When young Rosita moved from Puerto Rico to the mainland United States, she didn’t know what to expect—but she knew she loved to sing and dance. Working to overcome the language barrier and bullying she experienced in a strange new country, Rita eventually made her way to Hollywood with a dream to be a star. There, she fought to be seen and heard and eventually reached the pinnacle of success, landing her iconic role in West Side Story and, finally, winning her groundbreaking Oscar.

Brought to life by Leo Espinosa’s bold and vibrant illustrations and Anika Aldamuy Denise’s lyrical text, this gorgeous tribute to the life and career of the first Latinx person to have earned an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award will inspire little dreamers everywhere.

Informative author’s note and timeline also included. A Spanish-language edition is also available.

About the Author

Anika Aladmuy Denise is a Puerto Rican children's author based in Rhode Island, USA. She is the author of 9 picture books, including Starring Carmen!, Monster Trucks, Baking Day at Grandma’s, Bella and Stella Come Home, and Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré, which received a 2020 Pura Belpré Author Honor and an NCTE 2020 Orbis Pictus Honor for Outstanding Children’s Nonfiction. Her books have been featured in The New York Times, "Kids’ Indie Next List," Junior Library Guild, A Mighty Girl, Book Riot, the Children’s Book Council’s "Around the World" showcase, and on the Latinx in Kidlit website. Visit her on the Web at

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About Anansesem

Anansesem is an online magazine of Caribbean children's and young adult literature by adults and children. We strive to bring you the best in news, reviews and creative content from the world of Caribbean children's publishing.
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  1. Love the curtain cover reveal! So perfect for a book about Rita Moreno! Can't wait to read this one, looks wonderful and you know how much I love nonfiction pb bios!



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