San Juan's Day
Arizona Daily Star
June 23, 2008

Stories by Rosalie Robles Crowe

Tucson, Arizona | Published:

Except for the fact that Roni Capin Ashford was born in New York City, she's a native Arizonan.

"I was supposed to have been born in Nogales," she said. But her mother accompanied Ashford's dad, Harlan Capin of Nogales, on a business trip, you see. . . .

Ashford was home by the time she was a month old, so it hardly seems fair to withhold "native" status from her personal data. Especially since she's so knowledgeable about our area's history, traditions, folklore and culture.

Her knowledge has helped her write two bilingual children's stories that introduce readers — kids and parents — to some of Southern Arizona's cultural treasures.

The most recent — released last fall by the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Press, which also published her first book ("My Nana's Remedies / Los remedios de mi Nana," (2002)) — celebrates Southern Arizona's monsoon season.

"Hip, Hip, Hooray, It's Monsoon Day! / Ajúa, Ya llegó el chubasco" boasts 13 pages of text with an equal number of beautiful watercolor illustrations by Richard Johnsen of Sahuarita.

In addition, there are eight pages of discussion material and glossary explaining monsoons, San Juan's Day, and plants and animals mentioned in the story.

Ashford, who writes under the pen name Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford, has received lots of compliments on her "Monsoon Day" book. It has been honored as a commended title by the Consortium of Latin American Studies / AMÉRICAS AWARD and also recognized as one of 2007's Southwest Books of the Year, Children's Top Picks.

But perhaps one of the most gratifying comments came from an adult who was delighted to see a book that explained the local traditions so tinged with the Mexican culture.

"This is who we are; this is our story," he said.

Ashford is a fourth-generation Arizonan who claims English and Spanish as her native tongues. She grew up speaking both languages in Nogales, and she has used both throughout her careers — as a teacher/translator for Tucson Unified School District, as a bilingual teacher and now as a writer.

The roots for her books grew from the stories she used to tell her students as a BERT — bilingual educational resource teacher.

"I wrote them so I could teach my students to read in Spanish and English," she explained.

Ashford will be signing copies of her book at Tuesday's El Día de San Juan Fiesta on West Congress Street.

● Contact reporter Rosalie Robles Crowe at or 573-4105.