Fall 2023

Letters in Charcoal

  • Interest Level: Kindergarten - Grade 3
  • Reading Level: Grade 2

In the pueblo of Palenque in Colombia, hardly anybody knows how to read. Curious about the letters her older sister Gina receives from a young doctor each month—letters that she is sure contain promises of love—one young girl makes a decision that will change her life, and the lives of every child in the pueblo, forever.

With the help of Señor Velandia, the owner of the village shop, she will slowly unlock the letters of the alphabet and discover the magic of reading. And soon she will make a discovery that is more miraculous still—that letters are literally all around her.

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Interest Level Kindergarten - Grade 3
Reading Level Grade 2
Genre Picture Books
Category Diverse Books: Race & Ethnicity, Diverse Books: Social Class, Diversity, SEL: B Self-Management, SEL: C Social Awareness, SEL: D Relationship Skills, SEL: E Responsible Decision-Making, Social Emotional Learning
Copyright 2023
Publisher Lantana Publishing
Imprint Lantana Publishing
Language English
Number of Pages 32
Publication Date 2023-09-05
Text Type Fiction
BISACS JUV035000, JUV030040
Dewey [Fic]
Dimensions 10 x 10
Lexile 780
Guided Reading Level N
Features Author/Illustrator note, Awards, Original artwork, and Reviewed

Author: Irene Vasco

Irene Vasco is an award-winning Colombian author. She has devoted much of her life to training readers in remote regions of Colombia, and in 2021, she was recognized by the Colombian Ministry of Education for a lifetime of work devoted to education.

Illustrator: Juan Palomino

Juan Palomino is a Mexican artist and academic. Among his many awards are the fourth Iberoamerican Catalog of Illustration, the Bologna Children's Book Fair International Illustration Award, and a Golden Apple from the Biennial of Illustration Bratislava.

Meet the Publisher: Lantana Publishing

Can we get a drumroll please? Allow us to introduce to you the next publisher in our excellent lineup of publishing partners – Lantana Publishing. Lantana is a UK-based publisher who tells under-represented and inclusive stories for all children. Check out the following interview with… View →


  • 2024 USBBY Outstanding International Book, Winner, 2024


The Horn Book Magazine

“[A] quietly empowering ode to literacy.”—The Horn Book Magazine

Kirkus Reviews

“Vasco’s narrative reminds readers that even in the face of lost connections, the joy of reading can light the way to a brighter future. A heartfelt tale that captures the transformative power of education.”—Kirkus Reviews