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Rica LLAMAS Cover.png
Old House cover .jpg
Rica LLAMAS Cover.png
Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
Rica Baptista wants—no, needs—a pet. A llama, a kinkajou, or maybe an iguana? Rica can’t tell anyone the real reason she wants a pet, because she’s not supposed to know—she overheard that her best friend, Laini, is moving away, and she worries about being left behind. Willing to try almost anything, Rica and Laini try all sorts of schemes to raise money to afford a pet. In a rich and amusing story that will appeal to fans of Judy Moody and Ivy and Bean, a sincere and creative protagonist navigates friend and family relationships from funny to frustrating, endearing to insightful.

Oh, garbanzo beans! You’ll be sorry if you wait to meet big-hearted Rica, who discovers the joy of family, friendship, pets, and the power of finding her own voice.
—Megan McDonald, New York Times best-selling author of the Judy Moody series

Rica is a welcome addition to the chapter book scene—she’s funny, determined, and kind. Readers will be rooting for Rica as she goes after her dream of getting a pet. I crown Rica Baptista the Queen of Trying!
—Debbi Michiko Florence, award-winning author of the Jasmine Toguchi series

Old House cover .jpg


Illustrated by Gladys Jose

Published by Candlewick Press

Isaac is excited about having a sleepover at Grandpop’s house, but he’s a little nervous about being away from home for the first time. Luckily, his knowing Grandpop tells him it’s not quite time to go to bed yet—first, he needs Isaac’s help in putting the house to bed.  TIME FOR BED, OLD HOUSE will help your family embrace a new nighttime tradition.

A fine, uplifting intergenerational story of literacy, literature, and homemade love.

- The Horn Book

  • NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work Nominee 2022

  • School Library Journal and Bank Street Books Best Books of the Year Lists 2021

  • Starred reviews - Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, School and Library Journal, and the Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books

Seaside Dream
Illustrated by Lambert Davis
Published by Lee and Low Books
Available: Lee and LowIndieBound, Amazon


Family. Food. Presents. 
Everything seems ready for Grandma’s birthday celebration but will Cora figure out what her Cape Verdean* grandmother really wants?
A moving portrayal of a grandparent-grandchild relationship as well as a distinctive take on universal aspects of immigration.
- Kirkus Reviews
Lee and Low New Voices Honor Award



Janet Costa Bates is a children’s book author. The Rica Baptista chapter book series features a Cape Verdean American girl navigating family and friend relationships. The first of the series, LLAMAS, IGUANAS, AND MY VERY BEST FRIEND, is a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard selection. Picture book TIME FOR BED, OLD HOUSE received four starred reviews and was an NAACP Image Award Nominee. Her first picture book, Seaside Dream, is a story about immigration and the grandparent/grandchild bond and was a Lee and Low New Voices Honor Award winner.

A graduate of Morgan State University and Boston College, she is a currently member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and was a 2022 mentor for We Need Diverse Books.


Fun Fact

'Seaside Dream' was chosen to be included in a mural for the Children's Room at the Boston Public Library. It's a little hard to see from this picture so you'll just have to trust me. 

OR take a trip to the BPL.



I am available for school visits, storytime events, and speaking engagements, both in-person (depending on the current state of the pandemic) and virtual. Please send a message regarding your request and I will get back to you regarding availability and fees.


Contact Me

(with your parent's permission if you're under 18)



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Represented by Saba Sulaiman, Talcott Notch Literary

Upcoming speaking events include the Massachusetts Reading Association Conference and multiple school visits

Selected prior speaking events include a guest appearance on New York Public Radio Show All of It with Allison Stewart, The Massachusetts Library Association Conference, The National Education Association Annual Conference, and more.
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