LAWRENCE — Cesar Sanchez Beras has done it again.
The 48-year-old Lawrence author has published two new children's books, and had a third reprinted after it was translated from Spanish to English. That's a total of 13 books for the prolific writer.
"I'm able to publish so many works because I have a variety of topics, from fables, sonnets and plays," Beras said. "I also try to write every day. I don't need a quiet or serene place, but time to sit and write."
The new books are "Carnival Surprises" a one-act play written in rhythmic verses, and "The Adventures of the Sleuth Fish and Professor Dolphin," a 34-page story about sea animals who go in search of the city of happiness after finding a map on a sunken ship. In addition, his story, "The Little Blue Frog," first published in 2008, has now been re-released in English.
Rhina Espaillat of Newburyport, founder of the Powow River Poets, translated "The Little Blue Frog" into English for Beras. She has now translated four of his books.
"I think Cesar is one of the best people writing in Spanish today," said Espaillat, herself a published poet. She said she is glad Beras is writing for children, many of whom are more interested in video games, computers and television.
"It's important to woo children back into reading, and people like him are great," she said.
Beras said he is aware of the lure of technology, but he is not worried.
"I know I'm competing against the Internet and video games, but I have hope that children will continue reading because schools still use books," he said.
Beras's characters are whimsical and colorful, with personalities taken from the pages of real life.
"Carnival Surprises" tells the story of Gaspar and Maria. The two meet on the streets and promise to see each other later that night at a masquerade ball. But in their haste, they forget to tell each other what costumes they will be wearing.
In "The Adventures of the Sleuth Fish and Professor Dolphin," the dolphin resembles Sherlock Holmes, sporting a cape and deerstalker hat and smoking a pipe. Like the fictional detective, the dolphin changes disguises throughout the book.
Throughout their journey, the sea animals meet different characters, including a purple octopus with thick eyebrows, mustache and top hat who wants to help them find the lost city.
"My goal is not only to educate children, but to let them have fun while reading," Beras said.
One subject close to his heart is protecting the environment.
"We all live on the same planet and need to save it," Beras said. "Through characters like frogs, snakes or stars, I want to show children that we're all part of the human chain, and everything around us is valuable."
Mark Schorr, executive director of the Robert Frost Foundation in Lawrence, described Beras as an "image poet."
"He comes up with an image that's so striking it sticks in your mind," Schorr said.
One such case is Beras's poem about the flock of crows that fly over the city at sunset, making them look yellow in color with the sun.
"I always think of Cesar when I see the crows," Schorr said. "I like how he takes the urban migration of birds colored by the sunlight and tries to fit it into the environment."
Beras was born in the Dominican Republic, and moved to Lawrence in 1995. He began writing as a hobby in 1984, and published his first poetry book in 1993, titled, "Memories from the Past."
He said he finds inspiration in nature, as well as Lawrence's old textile mills, the architectural designs of buildings on Essex Street, railroad tracks that have laid dormant for years, and city residents.
Beras's 10th book, "Lawrence City and Other Poems," was dedicated to his adopted city. It features 150 poems, many of which highlight city landmarks, including the Ayer Mill clock, City Hall and Bellevue Cemetery.
He has also penned poems about love, as well as philosophical thought, social and political subjects.
But Beras said by far, children are his preferred audience. He first delved into children's poetry when he started teaching. He has been a Spanish teacher in the Math, Science and Technology High School at Lawrence High School for 16 years.
"By writing for youngsters, I discovered a talent I didn't know I had," he said. "It's a challenge to write for children, but it also given me the opportunity go back to my childhood and relive those memories."
Beras has won several accolades for his poetry. "The Little Blue Frog" won the 2004 National Children's Literature Prize in the Dominican Republic. "Lawrence City and Other Poems" won the Massachusetts Book Award. He has also received the Dominican annual Prize for Poetry and was first-place winner of the Dominican National 10-stanza poetry competition, 1990. In 2004, he was named poet laureate at Cambridge College in Lawrence.