Marissa Bañez’s 2nd children’s book is out

‘Hues and Harmony (How the Rainbow Butterfly Got Her Colors)’
July 2023
Black Rose Writing

By Cristina DC Pastor

Filipina immigrant, Marissa Bañez is a Princeton University graduate and an attorney licensed in New York, New Jersey, and California, and an award-winning author of two children’s books, “Hope and Fortune” and “Hues and Harmony (How the Rainbow Butterfly Got Her Colors).”  She was featured in The FilAm in 2022 after “Hope and Fortune” was published and she wrote a two-part essay of her interesting interaction with Senator Imee Marcos when they were both students at Princeton.

The following is an excerpt of our conversation about how her life has changed in the last year.

The FilAm (TF): In August 2022, I wrote about your “second act” as an author.  How has this past year been for you?

Marissa Banez (MB): Mind-blowing!

TF: How has the Filipino community reacted?

MB: I’ve met many fantastic, interesting, and wonderful people.  To name everyone would fill this whole magazine.  Here are just some examples:

Philippine Consul General Senen T. Mangalile of the Consulate in New York formally accepted my books to be a permanent part of the works of Filipinos/Filipinas at the Philippine Center’s Sentro Rizal.

I was privileged to be a guest teacher for the Paaralan Sa Konsulado held by AFTA and the Philippine Consulate in NYC.

Marissa’s advice: ‘Write but keep expectations realistic and keep your ‘day job.’”  The FilAm Photo

The Filipino School of NY and NJ’s Kuwentuhang Pilipino program for the Bergenfield library sponsored my virtual reading, which has been viewed over 1.3K times.

San Diego’s The Filipino Press and The Hawaii Filipino Chronicle published articles about me and my books.  The Filipino Press also sponsored a mini-book tour, including a reading at the House of the Philippines in Balboa Park, where they will display my book.

In the Philippines, a Bible studies leader throughout Luzon is using “Hope and Fortune” in her curriculum.

TF: What are some of the positive reactions to “Hope and Fortune?”

MB: I recently met the marketing manager of Barnes & Noble in New York City.  After reviewing “Hope and Fortune” and my new book, “Hues and Harmony,” he immediately introduced me to someone else in the book industry with these words:  [T]oday I had the great fortune of meeting children’s book author Marissa Banez, her one-of-a-kind creativity and illustrations to say the least are magical — a rare combination of artful characters, brilliant hues, multiculturalism, and a unifying message of caring, harmony, hope and love to ever so gently embrace the world.

Because he’s been in the book business for decades, his praises mean so much to me as a first-time author.

The kids have also been amazing. A Chinese boy and an Indian boy told me at different times that my book inspired them to write their own books. For Book Week in Australia, a little girl chose my book.  A Muslim boy in the Bronx thanked me for the book.  A young girl reading about the fairies was heard saying, “I could be any of them.” When I read for Paaralan sa Konsulado, both girls and boys listened attentively and enthusiastically participated in the discussion. 

Consul General Senen Mangalile formally accepts Marissa’s books as part of Sentro Rizal collection.

Adults too.  Several said they “teared up” after reading it and wished they had this book when they were young.  It was chosen to be featured in the “book nook” of the upcoming legal convention of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association in Indianapolis.  And, it’s been recognized for “Excellence in Children’s Literature” by two book award organizations.

I participated in the Multicultural Book Festival recently.  Not to take anything away from the other authors but I was honored my books sold more than the other kids’ books combined.

TF: Any negative reactions?

MB: The worst was a Facebook message from a stranger who asked, “Why isn’t there a Caucasian fairy?”  When I said there were three White fairies, and pointed out the Fortune Fairy of Love and Friendship, her response was, “that doesn’t look like a white fairy.” 

Some say the ideas in the book are “too deep” for kids.  But the 4- and 5-year-olds in my audiences have been just as attentive as older kids.  As E.B. White said, “you have to write up, not down” to kids.

TF: You have a new book?

MB: “Hues and Harmony”deals with mixed race kids, self-acceptance, belonging, and parental love, using primary colors, basic chemistry, and common shapes.

TF: Any reactions to “Hues and Harmony” so far?

MB: Yes!  It’s very exciting. It’s gotten all 5-star online reviews.

An independent blogger/reviewer raved: “This is a book that should be in every elementary school classroom and on every library shelf, as it does such an amazing job of teaching diversity and the importance of being inclusive, no matter the colors you are.  Cannot recommend this enough!”

‘Hope and Fortune’ finds its way to Australia Book Week

The Barnes & Noble marketing manager said “Hues and Harmony” is “wonderful” and “phenomenal.”  I’m doing readings at three Barnes & Noble stores in the upcoming months and I’m in negotiations with a couple more stores.

TF: If being an author is your “second act”, do you have any more “acts”?

MB: Absolutely!  After all, I’m only 65-years-young.  I made up a motto I live by: “When others say ‘no’ to you, say ‘YES’ to yourself!”

So, I’m registered with ASCAP as a songwriter because I co-wrote the songs that go with the books with my musician friend, Alan Shapiro.

I’m also working with a live theater NYC owner/producer to develop a “Hope and Fortune” children’s musical.  Playwrighting is in my future.

TF: Any advice for aspiring Filipino authors?

MB: The biggest misconception among authors – of any nationality – is if you write something, it’ll be read, and then you’ll be rich and famous.  Not so much.  I wrote blogs on several websites about becoming an author.  Aspiring Filipino authors may want to read them.  Just Google my name.

Distilled Boomer advice:  Write but keep expectations realistic and keep your “day job.” While being an author is a labor of love, it’s also a second full-time, undercompensated job without insurance benefits.

Marissa is available for book readings.  Her website is

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