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Bilingual children’s book “Maya, Princess of Tortillas” to release April 1st

Second title from La Joya Press is a love story to nixtamal, culture, and make-believe

Washington, DC  – Multicultural children’s book publisher La Joya Press will release its second title, “Maya, Princess of Tortillas” on April 1, 2024. In the book little Maya can't wait to make tortillas with her Mami when she suddenly finds herself on an adventure through Tortilla Land, where she becomes the Princess of Tortillas.

Maya gets to see how corn tortillas are made from a flying tortillero and helps her friends free themselves from a gooey, glittery blob, sallitrot, invading their home. To help save her friends and the tortillas, Maya shows them the power and love of nixtamal, and how warm corn tortillas always bring families and friends together. They celebrate with a big tortilla party.

The picture book is bilingual - in English with special words in Spanish listed in a glossary at the end. The book also includes an illustrated recipe for children to make corn tortillas from nixtamal at home with a grownup.

“The idea started when my daughter placed a tortillero upside down on her head like a hat,” said Elena Gaona, the book’s author. “She was a baby at the time, and it almost looked like the tortillero could grow to fit her inside, and start flying.”

For Gaona, the process of nixtamalization that leads to corn tortillas felt magical, yet not very well known by Latine children in the U.S., where corn tortillas usually come already made, from a plastic bag. 

“Corn tortillas from nixtamal are a staple of our meals, and our history, and our cultura, and I wanted to pass down that warmth, history and food culture to our children in a magical and playful fun story,” said Gaona, a Texas native who comes from a family of Mexican immigrants.

The book is intricately illustrated by Evelyn Barajas. Born and raised in Lynwood, California, Barajas is a first-generation immigrant and proud Oaxaqueña now living in Fresno, CA.

“The beautiful story of Maya, Princess of Tortillas was a dream to illustrate,” said Barajas. “The main character is a spunky and sweet little girl who loves tortillas. I was instantly drawn to her and envisioned a vibrant, brave girl ready for an adventure. We fully indulged in the process of illustrating the story and I'm very proud of the illustrations. As an artist, my passion is to elevate Latinx stories and celebrate culture. I hope that children read the story and feel proud of their heritage. That is my mission and inspiration as a Latina artist and mother.”

The book is the second title from La Joya Press, an independent multicultural book publisher born in 2020 during the pandemic, by founder Juliana Hernandez Anthony. Gaona co-founded the company.

La Joya Press will publish new and established authors and grow in the number of titles that represent all Black and Brown cultures. Two more book titles are planned by year’s end. The word “joya” in Spanish means jewel, inspired by the idea that children are our “jewels.” 

“We have so many untold, inspiring stories full of culture, history, family, community, joy and adventure to share,” Gaona said. “We want all children to feel happy and powerful when they hear them or read them. It’s all for them.”

To buy the book:


Maya, Princess of Tortillas” is available for paperback pre-order at, and hardback pre-orders at Amazon.

To request a digital version of the book for review email:



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