Her Story: Ladies In Literature 2018 with R. M. Romero

Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a special, month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader in which we celebrate the literary female role models whose stories have inspired and empowered us since time immemorial. From Harriet M. Welsch to Anne Shirley, Becky Bloomwood to Hermione Granger, Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a series created for women, by women as twenty-six authors answer the question: “Who’s your heroine?” You can find a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!


About R. M. Romero

R. M. Romero is a biracial Jewish author of fairy tales and children’s fiction. While afflicted with wanderlust, she currently lives in Miami Beach with her witchy black cat. Her debut novel, The Dollmake of Kraków, was named a 2018 Sydney Taylor Notable Book, won the Silver Medal for Older Children’s Literature in the Florida Book Award, and has been nominated for the Flemish Children’s and Youth Prize. She is represented by Jenny Bent of The Bent Agency.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads


As a child, I wanted to become a marine biologist, studying the sea and all the creatures in it. The walls of my bedroom were covered with posters of whales and dolphins. My cousins and I would collect seashells along Wildwood Crest during the summers. When I visited my Cuban grandmother in Miami Beach, I tried sending letters to the mermaids I believed lived just offshore. (They never answered. Mermaids are apparently terrible correspondents.)

Unfortunately, I spent my childhood landlocked in Colorado and being near the ocean was an annual rather than daily occurrence.

So when my third grade teacher started reading The Merlin Effect by T.A. Barron to my class, I was eager to return to the sea — if only in my imagination — by losing myself in the story.

The book follows Kate Gordon, a teenage girl whose father is working with a group of scientists along the coast of Baja, California. But her father isn’t there to study grey whales and nearly extinct fish like the others. He is searching for the Horn of Merlin, a powerful object that belonged to the great magician himself and went down with a Spanish galleon in the 16th century. But it is Kate who encounters the Horn…and Merlin himself. Beneath the waves, she meets merfolk and seadmons, she saves the magician, gives hope to a lost pod of whales, and helps defeat the wicked sorceress Nimue with cleverness and compassion.

In a story whose central tragedies come from the warring egos of powerful people, Kate’s quiet strength made a deep impression on me. She felt real, both ordinary and extraordinary all at once. She found magic inside of her rather trying to seek it out elsewhere. She made mistakes and had moments of weakness that she had to fight to overcome. Most of all, she was driven by kindness and her desire to do right rather than be right.

The Merlin Effect was the first time I saw a space for myself inside of myths and fairy tales. I had always loved those kinds of stories; they offered an enchanting and hopeful world in which children would be always find thier way out of the dark woods and King Arthur would return from Avalon when all seemed lost. But all the characters who even remotely resembled me were rarely at the heart of such tales. It wasn’t until Kate that realized that even if girls and women were sidelined or absent in the original versions, they could emerge from the margins and enter the story to become heroines. I could make them heroines with a wave of my pen. And that was the best and truest magic of all.

I never did have a career as a marine biologist. But I do live by the sea and write stories about girls like Kate.

Title The Dollmake of Kraków
Author R. M. Romero
Pages 336 Pages
Intended Target Audience Middle Grade
Genre Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Publication Date September 12th 2017 by Delacorte Press
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

In the land of dolls, there is magic.
In the land of humans, there is war.
Everywhere there is pain.
But together there is hope.

Karolina is a living doll whose king and queen have been overthrown. But when a strange wind spirits her away from the Land of the Dolls, she finds herself in Krakow, Poland, in the company of the Dollmaker, a man with an unusual power and a marked past.

The Dollmaker has learned to keep to himself, but Karolina’s courageous and compassionate manner lead him to smile and to even befriend a violin-playing father and his daughter–that is, once the Dollmaker gets over the shock of realizing a doll is speaking to him.

But their newfound happiness is dashed when Nazi soldiers descend upon Poland. Karolina and the Dollmaker quickly realize that their Jewish friends are in grave danger, and they are determined to help save them, no matter what the risks.

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