Cuba In My Pocket by Adrianna Cuevas

Hello, Adrianna Cuevas! Welcome to Watch. Connect. Read.! I love, love, love, love Geneva Bowers’ cover illustration and Trisha Previte’s cover design for Cuba In My Pocket. I’m curious, what ran through your heart the first time you saw it?

Adrianna Cuevas: I thought of my father, most of all. This is his story, his journey that I’m telling. I looked at the boy on the cover, standing tall with his eyes lifted to the sky and thought about everything my father went through to come to this country and make a life here. Even though the boy has his hand in his pocket, gripped around the bad luck double-nine domino he always carries, I’m still completely taken in by the hopeful look on his face.

I also love seeing the Freedom Tower featured on the Miami skyline. It’s a U.S. National Historic Landmark and was central in hosting services for Cubans fleeing to Florida. 

Scenario: You’re virtually visiting with a sixth-grade class in Tacoma, Washington. The teacher asks you to booktalk Cuba in My Pocket. What would you share with the class?

Adrianna Cuevas: There’s a chance that Cumba Fernandez has a lot in common with you. He spends his days in Santa Clara, Cuba, pranking his teacher, keeping the neighborhood cats away from his terrified mother, and telling on his cookie-stealing little brother. But when the government starts to tell people what they’re allowed to say and do, Cumba’s family decides to send him to Florida by himself to escape.

Imagine moving somewhere all alone where you don’t speak the language and don’t know anyone. Although Cumba slowly starts to adjust to his new life in Miami and makes new friends, he can’t help but wonder if he’ll ever see his family again. 


Please finish the following sentence starters:


Cumba is braver than he realizes. He may feel cynical and hopeless at times, but he learns to lean on the people around him for support. To me, realizing you don’t have to hold up your whole world by yourself is brave.

Cumba is also the nickname my abuelo gave himself when I was growing up. He’d dance around my abuelos’ apartment in Miami, singing, “Cumba, cumba, cumba.” I only had one choice when I was naming my main character.

Did you know Mami and Tía Carmen constantly argue over who makes better frijoles negros? Mami swears the secret is vinegar while Tía Carmen thinks it’s all in the garlic. They’re both right.


The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez tells the story of a boy who would most likely be very good friends with Cumba Fernandez. They’re both adjusting to living in a new place and are separated from family members. Nestor and Cumba also understand the importance of embracing silliness, even when things around you seem overwhelming. 

Story is something constantly tumbling around in my brain. I daydream all the time and tend to get frustrated when the real world pulls me out of my imagination. I’m glad that being a writer and putting my distractions down on paper lets me pretend to be productive. 

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me for my pastelitos de guayaba recipe. No meal is complete without it.


Look for Cuba in My Pocket on October 26, 2021. 


Adrianna Cuevas is a first-generation Cuban American originally from Miami, Florida. After teaching Spanish and ESOL for sixteen years, she decided to pursue her passion for storytelling. Adrianna currently resides outside of Austin, Texas with her husband and son where they enjoy hiking, traveling, and cooking lots of Cuban food.


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