Washington, Dec. 6 (Reuters): The US government will ship children’s books to Cuba, hoping stories like A Chair for My Mother and The Absent-Minded Toad may bring a wider world to the communist-ruled island, US officials said yesterday.
The state department will pay to ship the Spanish-language books to Cuba and will distribute them there, a step that may annoy the Cuban government, which condemned as “subversive” an earlier US effort to hand out short-wave radios to what Havana called anti-Castro “counter-revolutionaries.”
The books have been vetted to ensure that there is no inappropriate content but they have not been chosen to convey any particular political message, although officials clearly hope they may promote the values of tolerance and freedom.
One of the books is Vera B. Williams' A Chair for my Mother (Un sillon para mi madre), the story of a girl named Rosa whose family saves money in a jar to buy her hard-working mother a plush chair to sit in.
Joan Manuel Gisbert's“The Wizard of Smyrna” (El Mago de Esmirna), tells of an apprentice wizard called Shaban, who aspires to a life of adventure and discovery and believes his dreams can become true.
A third, Javier Rondon's“The Absent-Minded Toad” (El Sapo Distraido), is about a toad who makes a list of things to buy at the market but who, distracted by the people, shops and colorful fruits and vegetables, goes home empty-handed.
The State Department, which plans an event on Monday to unveil its grant to fund the shipments, said the books were donated primarily by U.S. publishers to the Sabre Foundation, a nonprofit group that distributes books around the world.
”The idea is to expose the children of Cuba to the outside world, to tell them there is something more out there,” said another U.S. official.“It's a gesture of goodwill.”