Defying Censorship, Authors Unveil Children’s Book Celebrating Interracial LGBTQ+ Family

(1888PressRelease) Susie Rich and Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal challenge book banning trend with Obie’s Adventures in the Berkshires.

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. – In a bold response to the escalating trend of book banning and the stifling of diversity, equity and inclusion, Susie Rich, a Black author, and Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, a gay Latino civil rights advocate, have collaborated to publish a unique children’s book Obie’s Adventures in the Berkshires. Highlighting interracial LGBTQ+ themes, the tale follows the adventures of a little dog named Obie who is part of an interracial gay family.

As censorship reaches unprecedented levels in classrooms and libraries nationwide with nearly 900 books banned, the authors challenge the labels of “harmful” and “explicit” themes. They aim to represent the everyday experiences of a diverse family enjoying outdoor recreational activities, much like any other American family, including their little dog.

Set against the picturesque backdrop of the Berkshires, known for its scenic beauty and fresh air, the book narrates the journey of Obie and his dads from Boston to the Berkshires. They explore Beartown Forest, learn to swim in Benedict Pond, and Obie befriends different woodland creatures.

In a time when discussions around race and LGBTQ+ identities face constant threats, Rich and Espinoza-Madrigal have consciously woven these themes into the narrative and subtext of their charming picture book.

Rich, a social work and homelessness prevention veteran, has a portfolio of children’s books known for their diverse characters and protagonists of color. Her works include The Whale, the Ocean, the Duck, and the Pond (2018), DUANE: Don’t Underestimate Any Natural Elements (2017), I Don’t Care What You Wear as Long as It’s Clean (2015), Too Much Hopscotch (2014) and How My Daddy Taught Me to Dance (2014). Illustrations from Too Much Hopscotch were featured at Logan Airport in the special exhibit “Massachusetts: Where Imagination Comes to Life.”

Rich’s contributions have been instrumental in diversifying children’s literature when the representation of people of color is significantly lacking. Only 94 out of 3,200 children’s books featured Black characters when she began her writing journey. The representation of diverse characters and LGBTQ+ experiences continue to be inadequate.

With support from SDP Publishing Solutions and Lawyers for Civil Rights’ BizGrow Project, Rich continues to add to the children’s literary canon. BizGrow played a pivotal role in connecting the authors.

The authors united around promoting diversity, equity and inclusion by sharing a day in the life of Obie, the dog of Espinoza-Madrigal, the Executive Director of Lawyers for Civil Rights and his husband Seth Riseman.

Espinoza-Madrigal, a recognized civil rights advocate, has won numerous landmark cases on civil rights issues, including immigrants’ rights and LGBTQ/HIV equality. His work has been featured in the New York Times and has received accolades such as the Boston Bar Association’s Beacon Award and President’s Award. He was also named “Lawyer of the Year” by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly for his leadership during the Martha’s Vineyard migrant crisis. Obie’s Adventures in the Berkshires marks his foray into fiction.

Espinoza-Madrigal praised Rich’s work, stating, “Susie’s stories are powerful. She centers the lived experience of Black people, particularly Black children. I am proud to produce a book about diverse voices and experiences in defiance of censorship. This is urgently needed in children’s literature. As more identities and themes are under siege, it’s critical that we speak up — and write.”

Rich emphasized the importance of representation in children’s literature by stating, “It is important for black boys and black girls to see themselves reflected in the books they first encounter and read. I am also ensuring that Latinx and LGBTQ+ characters appear in my books. This helps all children learn about themselves and others. Especially now, we all deserve to feel like we have a valid place in the world.”

Readers are invited to share Obie’s adventures by visiting the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts, where activities such as hiking in Beartown Forest and swimming in Benedict Pond are enjoyable.

The book, designed to be accessible and affordable, is available in paperback format from SDP Publishing Solutions, SusiesStories, Barnes & Noble and Amazon. An eBook version is also available.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to support the life-changing work of Lawyers for Civil Rights. For more information, visit

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