'The Elote Man Goes to College': Local author, illustrators push for diversity in picture books

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It is an exciting day at Aspen Meadow Elementary School.

Maia Gonzalez is reading the book she wrote, "The Elote Man Goes to College," to over 100 students at the charter school.

It is a story about a street vendor named Diego. By selling the corn popular in the Mexican American community, he's able to send his daughter, Marisol, to college.

"I really wanted to highlight the people we see in our community, telling these stories of our families, uncles, aunts," says Maia.

The story of an entrepreneur and an immigrant family -- one that resonates with many in Central California.

Maia's sister, Chalome Gonzalez, is the book's illustrator. She becomes emotional every time she sees it.

"I just think, 'Man, that story touches my heart every time.' and she has made other people cry. It is not just me," says Chalome.

With their father by their side, the sisters reflect on the sacrifices their parents make to provide a better life for their kids.

Attacks on Fresno County street vendors in 2018 motivated them to create the book.

They hope to help kids understand the diversity that surrounds them.

Maia mentions, "There is a big push for more diverse books, especially picture books, but there are not so many that are within our own culture, like the Mexican American culture here."

A culture that is evident through Fresno, says Mary Nixon, multicultural program coordinator at Aspen Meadows.

"Our school is made up of many different cultures and I think it is important for the student to learn about the different cultures, and actually to realize we really are similar."

Along with a special reading from the author and illustrator, students lined up for a treat.

They got to taste Elote, the corn from the book.

A sister-duo sharing and embracing their culture while realizing the sky's the limit.

"I just want to say I am older but I never gave up. Even if you think you're too old to do this, go out there and do it," says Chalome.

They have already sold 500 copies, and they are already thinking about their second book.

You can find "The Elote Man Goes to College'' in libraries, and on sale in downtown Hanford at My Corazon-Libros y Cultura, located at 300 N Irwin St, Hanford, CA 93230.

Once restocked, it will be available at Miicamisa.com.
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