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90 Miles to Havana


90 Miles to Havana

90 Miles To Havana is based on the author’s experiences during the Cuban revolution and then his departure under Operation Pedro Pan Operation, a little publicized State Department operation that enabled the exodus of 14,000 unaccompanied children to the U.S.

The narrator, Julian, presents a child’s view of the Cuban Revolution and life in the overcrowded camps where children of the Pedro Pan airlift landed. Julian must decide how he is to deal with Caballo, the bully. Will he model his response on the events he witnessed during the Cuban Revolution, or do it the new democratic way, as Dolores the camp cook recommends?

90 Miles to Havana is a 2011 Pura Belpré Honor Book for Narrative. 

Also: 2011 Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year, the ALSC Notable Children's Book, CCBC choice (U of WI), Florida Sunshine State Young Readers Award Master List, New Jersey Garden State Teen Book Award Master List, Oklahoma Sequoyah Young Adult Book Award Master List



The Author-Artist Enrique Flores-Galbis reads an excerpt from 90 Miles to Havana to accompany the charcoal animation he has created. His award winning, YA, Historical Fiction Novel takes place at the beginning of the Cuban Revolution and describes his character's experiences with Operation Pedro Pan.


Praise for 90 Miles to Havana

Kirkus Review of Books, 90 Miles to Havana:

After Castro’s takeover, nine-year-old Julian and his older brothers are sent away by their fearful parents via “Operation Pedro Pan” to a camp in Miami for Cuban-exile children. Here he discovers that a ruthless bully has essentially been put in charge. Julian is quicker-witted than his brothers or anyone else ever imagined, though, and with his inherent smarts, developing maturity and the help of child and adult friends, he learns to navigate the dynamics of the camp and surroundings and grows from the former baby of the family to independence and self-confidence. A daring rescue mission at the end of the novel will have readers rooting for Julian even as it opens his family’s eyes to his courage and resourcefulness. This autobiographical novel is a well-meaning, fast-paced and often exciting read. It will introduce readers to a not-so-distant period whose echoes are still felt today and inspire admiration for young people who had to be brave despite frightening and lonely odds. (Historical fiction. 9-12)


…one of the reasons why I am so very impressed with 90 MILES TO HAVANA, an outstanding piece of historical fiction through which readers are provided a great introduction through the eyes of a child to what was happening on both sides of that 90 mile divide when, fifty years ago, General Batista was out and Fidel Castro was in charge.
For young readers, including those with little or no knowledge of Cuba beyond a colored shape on a map, 90 MILES TO HAVANA is an exciting history, adventure, and coming-of-age story that will certainly cause them to listen up and ask questions when they next hear or read mention of that island country that is so near and yet so far away.

Jess deCourcy Hinds, School and Library Reviews:

This novel is deeply affecting. History comes alive through the author’s dazzling use of visual imagery and humor, which ranges from light to dark. This book is sophisticated, but can be read on many lev- els. . .The writing is poetic, yet clear as glass, and the gorgeous sentences do not slow down the briskly paced plot. It’s hard to imagine any child putting this book down.

Hazel Rochman Booklist Reviews:

Flores-Galbis offers a gripping historical novel about children who were evacuated from Cuba to the U.S. during Operation Pedro Pan in 1961. . . a seldom told refugee story that will move readers with the first-person, present-tense rescue narrative, filled with betrayal, kindness, and waiting for what may never come.