Author and illustrator Casandra lee brought six children’s stories to life in her new book, “Building a House” at a book launch at the New Canadians Center (CCN) on Monday.

Jorge Escalera (far right), poses with his family at the book launch on Monday.  Escalera is one of six children whose story inspired Building a Home.  Photo by Angela O'Grady.

Jorge Escalera (far right), poses with his family at the book launch on Monday. Escalera is one of six children whose story inspired Building a Home. Photo by Angela O’Grady.

The book is inspired by children who experience new cultures for the first time after immigrating to Canada.

Bhisham Ramoutar, communication and engagement specialist at the NCC, had the idea for a book two years ago when a newly immigrated family was served pizza for the first time.

“We have reflected on all the big and small things that children face when they arrive in a new country,” said Ramoutar. “We wanted to find a way to share these unique experiences. “

When Lee first started volunteering at the NCC, Ramoutar knew he had found the perfect candidate to make his idea a reality.

Lee met the six children from Syria, Kazakhstan, Mexico and Pakistan. They currently live and attend school in Nogojiwanong-Peterborough.

“Writing ‘Building a House’ was truly a dream come true for me,” she said. “Working directly with the kids and then translating that into a written and illustrated children’s book was really special. “

Casandra Lee reads Building a House at the launch on Monday.  Photo by Angela O'Grady.

Casandra Lee reads Building a House at the launch on Monday. Photo by Angela O’Grady.

Over the course of five weeks, Lee met the kids on Zoom. They spoke of shared experiences they faced when they came to Peterborough. A recurring theme was their love for their mother’s cooking, as opposed to the new foods being offered to them in Canada.

Jorge Escalera, 11, came to Canada from Monterrey, Mexico in 2016 at the age of six after his father received a job offer at Quaker Oats Peterborough. He was one of six children who shared his story.

“I was very excited when my mom told me I could participate,” Escalera said. “I was so happy, it was amazing.”

There are 400 free copies of “Building A Home” available from the David Goyette & Victoria Pearce Arts Fund at the Peterborough & District United Way. Copies can be ordered here and picked up at the NCC office in Peterborough and Cobourg. A digital copy of the book is available free online.

Educators are encouraged to book a reading of “Building a Home” by Lee or other newcomers associated with the New Canadians Center depending on the time of reading. To book a reading, email [email protected]

“Building a House” is available in English, Arabic, Bengali, French, Korean, Mandarin and Spanish.

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