OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – September 15th begins a month-long celebration of Hispanic culture.

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, KFOR’s Ali Meyer is sharing the story of an Oklahoma author whose books are inspiring young readers to read and explore in two languages.

Image of Mariana Llanos
Author of “Run, Little Chaski!” Mariana Llanos. Image from Oklahoma Department of Libraries.

Mariana Llanos dreams in two languages.

She speaks a combination of Spanish and English and writes brilliantly in both.

Born and raised in Lima, Peru as the youngest daughter of journalists, Mariana was raised on books and news.

“What I remember the most is growing up a little bit afraid of things because, you know, the world was scary,” Llanos said. “The only thing I could control at that moment, I realized, was my words and my writing. I have written since I was very young.”

Mariana moved to Oklahoma 21 years ago.

She started a family here and built a life in Oklahoma City.

“I consider myself an Oklahoma, a Peruvian, a Limena. So I think you can be more than one thing, and I try to embrace them all.”

When her own children were young, Mariana took up writing again.

This time, in English.

“There are so many kids who grew up in a bilingual household, and they need books that are written also in the language of their parents. I think being bilingual is very cool.”

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Mariana’s books are all published in both English and Spanish.

In fact, most of her stories contain a mix of both languages.

Her latest work Run, Little Chaski is a story about an Inka messenger boy.

The tale incorporates many words and phrases in Quechua, which is the ancient tongue of the Inkas.

“I used words in Quechua because I wanted it to feel authentic with the setting of the story.”

A Peruvian-born author, this immigrant has been honored in Oklahoma for her story about a big-hearted boy in the Andes mountains.

Her award-winning career is a celebration of culture on two continents.

“Spanish is such an important language in the United States,” Llanos said. “It just makes me proud to be able to write in both languages.”

Mariana Llanos and her protagonist, Little Chaski, share this mission; the delightful delivery of an important message: on every journey, be true to your heart.

In 2017, Mariana Llamos was selected as the best Latino artist by the Hispanic Arts Council of Oklahoma.

Earlier this year, her book Run, Little Chaski was honored as the 2022 Oklahoma Children’s Book of the Year.

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