Franklin H. Perez’s first short story was published in a New York City literary newspaper in 2009. The story, “The Adventures of the 3&5 Horned Rhino Beetles,” was inspired by Perez’s childhood. He constantly played with these beetles and dreamed that he was like them. He wanted to fly and be strong like them and have super human strength. According to Perez, he found his love of writing for children while growing up in Yagüate. “There, the sweet aroma of sugar cane wafted all over us, bringing a charm and a sense of delirium that we couldn’t resist,” said Perez. His childhood, his son Sebastian and his many experiences inspire Perez to write from his imagination. Franklin has written 25 children’s books. After earning a B.A. in Liberal Arts from City College (CUNY), he has had many odd jobs, including a school family para-professional, licensed real estate professional, driver and a licensed tour guide of New York City. Through these experiences, he became a jack of all trades. More importantly, these experiences enriched his life and inspired him to write more. Though he will always embrace his Yagüatense side, he is a New Yorker at heart, and is currently living in Greater New York. If he’s not working on his latest story, you can find him reading, learning a new language, exploring a new travel destination, watching a television series or imagining flying like his rhino beetles!
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I was an expert in a certain geography way before I began kindergarten. With the help of the horned rhino beetles and my imagination, I flew over my town and the whole world many times.
I remember climbing up and through a soursop tree that leaned against my house, reaching the very top of the roof. I would lie down there to watch these lovely little beetle bugs fly by. Yagüate was the magical town where I grew up, and this roof was my happy place, a sanctuary where I could lie down and watch these beauties, especially, at dusk. Observing the beetles became like a religion for me, rather like how my grandmother prayed daily for a few minutes with a rosary in her hands. But my time up there on the roof was decidedly much longer. I often gazed deep into the stars. It was up there that I learned that my star’s name was Theta Piscium.
It was so magical to fly over my town with my tiny friends —and in my imagination. I later nicknamed these horned rhino beetles, “rhinastronauts.” It was during these flights that I learned the geography of my town, the terrain of the mountains and the “true north” versus the north projected flat on map grids. Later, the compass taught me what I already knew.
My grandmother never quite figured out how I could run all sorts of errands so promptly without getting lost in town. I remember her saying:
“Oh, my little boy, you are so smart. God bless you!”
By watching these beetles so carefully, I learned much about them.
I remember some baby beetles flying in front of me; they actually suspended themselves in the air and gestured toward me. I didn’t understand a thing, but it was just a matter of time before I figured out the mystery. I beheld their kind and beautiful gestures. And, over time, I figured out their language! This is what they were saying to me:
“Kilki-manish!” (“We love you!”)
I also observed that they beamed down a symbol from their faces and hearts. The symbols looked like triangles.
Immediately, I created a gesture and thought I could reciprocate their kindness. I borrowed half the salute from one of my favorite TV series, StarTrek. To do this, I took my thumb and index fingers and joined them together and formed a sort of triangle with both hands. First, I made the symbol over my heart, and then I flipped over the symbol and took it to my forehead while I bowed down to the beetles in a gesture of pure love.
The beetles and my magical town sparked my imagination, leading me to write. These inspirational beetles and this cherished place took me to a land where I’d never been before. Later when I learned how to read, I remember devouring everything I could about these ferocious-looking insects. Every time I stopped by the library, I looked them up in the encyclopedia.
The more I read about them, the more I fell in love with these fearsomely beautiful creatures... They were so beyond special to me. Once when I read that they were descendants of the Egyptian scarab beetle, I thought that maybe they had evolved from the time of the dinosaurs. I also learned that they can carry 850 times their weight! This makes them the strongest creatures on Earth, relatively speaking. All of these amazing characteristics fostered my enthusiasm and love for these bugs. Not only do I still dream of flying like them, but I also dream of taking a ride on the back of a giant beetle, the boldest Tunkun, if he ever comes back as legend has it. Dinosaurs could not defeat him. Immortals never die!
Finally, I always wanted to debunk the myth that Europeans and Native American Indians had created soccer.
It was such a great joy for me when I learned that these beetles were the true creators of this great sport, making soccer the oldest sport ever practiced.
My mission as writer is to act as vessel to bring a positive message, and uplift children around the world with my literature. I will use all the talents that the Universe has given me and embrace life to the fullest, purpose and gratitude. I will do my best to learn as much as I can, do research, so can bring you fresh ideas; though in this way, we can both grow and evolved as better human beings. In the end, I want to install in you, the golden rule, where we all can agree that we need to make a better world for all. Through this focus I will give more than what I take and I will have accomplished my mission with our little ones, our leaders of tomorrow, the children.