Ypsi author preps second season of award-winning Latinx podcast for children

Ypsilanti writer Rodolfo "Rudy" Alvarado will soon launch season two of an award-winning podcast aimed at Latinx youth. His children's book and podcast series, "The Perla Garcia Mysteries," is based on dress-up games he played with his sister Carolina when they were children. 

"We created these dark, spooky mysteries that involved La Llarona or El Chupacabra," Alvarado says, naming two creatures from Mexican folklore who appear in his books and podcast, which both feature a Latinx cast. 

The books and podcast follow Perla Garcia, an 8-year-old girl who solves mysteries in her neighborhood in Mexico. She's joined by her dog Valiente (which translates to "brave" in Spanish). Valiente was inspired by Alvarado's family dog, Vago, who also often took part in Alvarado's childhood games with his sister.

The podcast presents a series of mysteries while also teaching both English and Spanish vocabulary words including "monstros" and "misterios" — monsters and mysteries. Alvarado says the podcast also aims to promote diversity and dispel stereotypes.

Alvarado's wife inspired him to start the podcast and continue the book series. He'd written two "Perla" books, then stalled out, and his wife asked him why he'd stopped.

"I thought, 'You're right,' and I jumped right back in. I thought, 'What better way to bring Perla back to life than to do not just more books but to do a podcast?'" Alvarado says.

Alvarado also was invited to reading events at nearby libraries to promote the books and podcast. The events included an interactive mystery-solving component, including take-home sleuthing kits with equipment like ink for taking fingerprints.

"When the kids would show up, they'd get a free book and a neat mystery box that has all the tools they need to be mystery-busters," Alvarado says.

A third book in the series is now out, and more than 5,000 listeners downloaded the first season of the podcast. The initial season also won an International Latin Podcast Award in the category of Children, Family, and Parenting. 

Alvarado says his professional voice cast agreed to do the first season of the podcast for a reduced rate, and he's very grateful for it. Now that he has established a nonprofit, he's hoping to apply for grants, seek sponsorships, and pay his voice actors a better wage. Scripts for season two of the podcast are completed, but Alvarado is still securing funding for the project. 

Alvarado says anyone interested in supporting the second season of the podcast can watch its webpage for an upcoming crowdfunding campaign.

Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to other Issue Media Group publications. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.

Photos courtesy of Rudy Alvarado.
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