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A Novel for Young Readers

By Nancy Osa

Home The Book The Island The History The Author
Copyright 2014 by Nancy Osa

1. Cuba is an island located:

A) In the Pacific Ocean

B) In the Atlantic Ocean

C) In the Carribbean Sea

2. Cuba is situated 90 miles from:

A) New York

B) Los Angeles

C) Miami

3. Which musical style(s) is Cuba known for?

A) Cha-cha

B) Mambo

C) Salsa

4. Cuba’s natural resources include:

A) Lumber

B) Tobacco

C) Cane sugar

5. Cuba’s largest city is:

A) Pinar del Rio

B) Havana

C) Guantánamo Bay

Answers: 1-C, 2-C, 3-ABC, 4-BC, 5-B

Correct Score: 0 = Clueless; read some more here!

1-3 = Cuba Novice; re-read Cuba 15!

4-5 = Cuba Genius; have a bubblegum cigar!

I wrote and received these letters in Spanish, which I will translate into English for you.

September 1994

“Dear Familia, I want you to meet me, Nancy, the daughter of Enrique. I am your niece or your cousin, and Papa sent me photos of you recently. Let me introduce myself: I live on the Pacific Coast of the U.S., In a small city called Portland, Oregon. I am a writer of books and stories for kids. Love, Nancy.”

May 1995

“Dear Nancy, My brother and I really like to read, and we take a lot of books out of the library. But what I like best is the beach! Many kisses to you from your cousin, Celia.”

May 1995

“I like that you tell us things about yourself, in order to get to knowyou and the customs of your country. I’m 15, and I really like music, dancing, and seeing good movies. Kisses and hugs, Ernesto.”

March 1998

Dear Nancy… We had a nice surprise; we met Julie, who knows your cousins Ed and Bobby. Although our English isn’t good, we tried to communicate the best we could. We invited her to our house and went with her to the Morro Castle.

This lovely girl made us aware by her presence that other family exists who want to know about us– how we are, how we live, what we do- and this gives us hope. Love from your aunt, Mercy.

Even though Cuba and the United States are neighbors, most Americans don’t know

much about the place or the people. In Cuba 15, Violet realizes this when she must

write a report for her Spanish class. When she asks her dad for some details about his homeland, he says

he’ll give her some recorded music and a cigar for her “show and tell”:

“Dad, y’know, cigars and the cha-cha are not going to cut it with our teacher.  That’s all people already know about Cuba.”  It was all I knew.

In researching the island to write Cuba 15, I learned a lot about the people and the lifestyle by writing to

my Cuban cousins who still lived there. I found out that many Cubans are:

Family oriented

Big baseball fans

Good dancers



Read on to see some excerpts of my family correspondence. Take the following quiz to get the answers to what YOU don’t know about the island and the Cuban people… who are your neighbors, after all.

Mysterious Island
What’s Your Cuba I.Q.?
Warm & Friendly People

In a place where temperatures and humidity often soar, it’s no surprise that passions run high.  Like the Caribbean climate, the people of Cuba can be warm and friendly, and sometimes hot and stormy! Social life sizzles outdoors, in the parks and on the streets and beaches. “Regulars” gather outside to catch a cool breeze as they play dominoes, a national pastime. Sizzling salsa music pours from the clubs, filling the air as locals enjoy an evening walk through town or along the oceanfront. Maybe someday you will visit these folks next door to find that we are all more alike than we are different. We all want to enjoy life!

The History “Dear Familia…”