Angela Cervantes, from Topeka, will be the author of a junior novel for “Encanto”

Four years ago, Topeka native Angela Cervantes wrote the junior novel published to accompany the hit Disney / Pixar film “Coco”.

Now Cervantes has been chosen to write the junior novel for Disney’s next film, “Encanto”.

Disney is planning a November 24 release of the film, a computer-animated musical set in Colombia, a South American country.

The junior novel is slated for release on October 12, Cervantes said.

She said she felt honored to be part of a story that celebrates Colombia’s rich culture.

Cervantes lives in Shawnee, Johnson County and writes children’s novels full time, often visiting classrooms to connect with his school-aged readers.

Her latest assignment continues her story of writing books featuring strong Hispanic characters.

Cervantes said Mexican culture “revolved around me all the time” as she grew up in the community of Oakland northeast of Topeka and attended Our Lady of Guadalupe Elementary School.

When she was in fifth grade, Cervantes said, she realized that Mexican-Americans weren’t mentioned in the books she got from the school library.

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Cervantes told his teacher, a Catholic nun, who suggested that he start writing about the experiences of Hispanics.

That’s what she did, creating short stories about characters who went to low-rider shows and participated in fiestas and quinceaneras, which celebrate a girl’s transition to femininity at 15. years.

“The teachers would read my work to the whole class,” Cervantes said. “It was very scary, but it was also super cool to see the reactions of my classmates.”

Cervantes graduated in 1988 from Highland Park High School, then received a degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Kansas.

She then took on jobs that included teaching English in Mexico and serving as a grants manager for Children International, a nonprofit child sponsorship organization in Kansas City, Missouri.

During this time, Cervantes remained connected to the world of writing, attending conferences and workshops and finding an agent.

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Her first book, “Gaby, Lost and Found”, was published in 2013 by Scholastic, a global children’s publishing, education and media company. It won the International Latino Book Award for best fiction novel for children’s chapter.

Scholastic has since published three other Cervantes books – “Lety Out Loud”, “Allie, First At Last” and “Me, Frida and the Secret of the Peacock Ring”.

“Encanto” tells the story of an ordinary 15-year-old girl who struggles to find her place in a family where all the other children have superpower, according to the Disney website.

“Encanto” will be published by Disney Worldwide Publishing, which also published the junior novel Cervantes wrote for “Coco,” which was released in 2017.

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Cervantes said she found it “super exciting” to attend the Coco Hollywood premiere and to walk the red carpet.

At the time, she said, teachers in classes she visited told her that some students in Mexico were afraid to come to school because they thought they would be harassed or expelled.

Cervantes said she was delighted to see Hollywood positively focus on Mexican culture in “Coco”, including highlighting a Mexican holiday known as “Day of the Dead.”

This, she said, made a statement about how the Mexican heritage shared by many Americans makes sense and “adds to our American journey.”

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