Writing a children’s book had been a goal of Aryca Marron’s for a few years, but it wasn’t until she watched her daughter learn how to make tortillas that she finally got the inspiration she needed to get started.
“My husband and I had taken our daughter over to my mom’s house so they could make flour tortillas together. While we were there, I began to reflect, and, just like a scene from a movie, I grabbed a pad of paper and began to write and write and write,” Aryca recalled.
Her family and how she was raised became the focus of “Peanut Butter and Jelly Burritos,” a lighthearted children’s book about exploring one’s ethnicity identity.
As a Family Studies and Psychology Professor at Arizona Western College, Aryca has studied and taught about family, culture, and ethnicity for several years throughout her career. So, it made sense for her to draw from her own family and past experiences for the book. All the characters in her story are based on relatives who impacted her growing up.
“I believe family, culture, and ethnicity are important topics to write about because they are relative to every individual. Family, culture, and ethnicity are all topics that we can discuss because we all have families, we all experience culture, and we all belong to one or more ethnicity groups,” she said.
Aryca was born to Hispanic parents and raised in the border community of Yuma. Her father’s family is originally from La Barca, Jalisco, Mexico, and she remembers the great stories her grandfather would tell about his life there. Some of his stories influenced the book, along with her maternal grandmother and her famous homemade tortillas.
“The tortillas were so good, my twin uncles sold them at school until they caught,” she said.
When asked about the process of publishing her first book, Aryca shared that the project took a little over a year to complete from start to finish. While her venture as an author has been a learning process, she plans to continue writing additional books in the future with the help of AWC alumni Paola Jamileth Roman Briceno, who illustrated all of the images for the book.
Paola loved, “Peanut Butter and Jelly Burritos,” from the moment she read it, and hopes that others can relate to it like she did, while also enjoying her artwork at the same time. Paola was born in Yuma, but raised in San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, Mexico until she was 12.
“This was my first time publishing a book, and it’s an experience I’ll never forget. I worked very hard to create these illustrations so that children will enjoy them. If children can get a smile out of this book, that will make me feel very accomplished,” she said.
While Paola has had a passion for art and drawing for as long as she can remember, her interest in illustration started at the age of 13 after she discovered comic books for the first time at the Yuma Main Library. Taking art classes at AWC helped further develop her skills and mold her into the artist she is today.
“I took several art classes at AWC that forced me to get out of my comfort zone and experiment with my art. That helped me improve immensely, and it helped me view things from a different perspective and explore different mediums and concepts,” said Paola.
“Peanut Butter and Jelly Burritos,” can be found online on Amazon for $15, and is targeted for children ages 3 and up.
Aryca graduated from Yuma High School in 1998 and earned an associate degree in General Education from Arizona Western College in 1999 before leaving Yuma to pursue additional higher education in Tucson. She later returned to her hometown to serve the community as a teacher at AWC, where she has worked for the past 15 years. Aryca began her teaching career at AWC as an adjunct professor in 2004, before becoming a full-time professor in 2011. She currently teaches Family Studies and Psychology at AWC and is also an adjunct Education professor for Northern Arizona University.
Paola graduated from Harvest Preparatory Academy in 2017 and received her associate degree in Studio Art from AWC during the summer of 2019. She’s currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Illustration and Design at the University of Arizona.