Today we’re thrilled to reveal the cover for Our Nipa Hut: A Story of the Philippines by Rachell Abalos and Gabriela Larios! The graphic design was handled by Sarah Soldano with assistance by Izzy Walter; and the cover was edited and art directed by Kate DePalma, Emma Parkin and Bree Reyes. The book will be released on February 6, 2024 by Barefoot Books. Preorder it here.
Yelena and Papa take care of their traditional Filipino dwelling – their nipa hut – and it takes care of them. But when a tropical storm roars towards the Philippines, their preparation will be put to the test. This gripping narrative will keep young readers glued to the pages as Yelena, Papa and the nipa hut work together as a family to withstand the storm.
From the author Rachell Abalos: I wrote this story because my grandmother used to sing “Bahay Kubo,” a Filipino folk song about a small nipa hut surrounded by vegetables. My father lived in a nipa hut like the one in this book. I also drew inspiration from my family’s experience during the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption. We huddled in one dark room, the floors shaking, and I had to help my dad tie down the windows to prevent ash from coming in. Like Yelena, my dad taught me that a home needs love and care, and so that’s how I care for my own home.
From the illustrator Gabriela Larios: This story touched my heart as I grew up in El Salvador, a tropical place like the Philippines. I hope this book sheds light on the importance of living a harmonious existence with nature. I love to portray the scenery and authenticity of country life by creating my art with my hands. Like the Mendozas, I had to go through my own storm when I lost my father to Covid-19, just before starting this project. Yelena and Papa working together and supporting each other unconditionally reminds me of the relationship I had with my dad, so this book is especially dedicated to him.
Rachell Abalos remembers her childhood in the Philippines, taking naps, eating ice buko and smelling the fish frying outside her grandmother’s house. She currently lives in Southern California, USA, with her husband and two kids, where she writes stories about her Filipino culture. Our Nipa Hut is her debut picture book.
Gabriela Larios grew up in El Salvador, surrounded by volcanoes, Mexican ceramics and tropical flowers grown by her mother, a floral designer. In 2007, thanks to an EU scholarship, she received her Masters from Camberwell College of Arts in London, UK, where she has been living ever since with her family. Gabriela approaches every project as a new adventure and draws inspiration for her work both from El Salvador and England.