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The Inspiration Behind "The Poplin Pigeon"

Birthday Party in Washington Heights Apartment Collage Illustration by Raquel Busa
The opening scene of "The Poplin Pigeon."
A Large Family Birthday Washington Heights 1986
My first birthday party (1986).

"The Poplin Pigeon" is a tribute to my family and childhood home.

I grew up watching Disney movies and reading fairy tales. But I hardly saw charactors like me or my family in these stories. So, even if I loved the stories and understood the lessons, they made me feel different and even less than.

A woman holding a little girl 1986
My Tia Geny showing me how to say "uno."

My Tia Geny passed away during the pandemic. Her passing made me reflect on my childhood. Although I didn't always see it growing up, my childhood was full of happiness, wonder, and love.

I decided to rewrite "The Velveteen Rabbit" by Margery Williams. It is a beautiful story of love and loss. But, instead of a toy rabbit, there is a toy pigeon. Instead of taking place in the English countryside, it takes place in Washinton Heights.

I decided to write a story of love and loss for the hispanic child growing up in New York.

I went through so many family pictures to find inspiration. I wanted the images to be authentic to my experience. Here are some of the references I used for the opening scene.

Dominican tambora and guira Collage illustration and reference by Raquel Busa
My brother Jose Ramon playing the tambora.
Collage illustration and reference by Raquel Busa
My mom and dad.

Collage illustration and reference by Raquel Busa
My cousin Lisette and my Tia Geny


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