Children’s book author Michelle McNiff is a journalist and novelist whose work has been published in fiction and non-fiction. With her new book, Pedro Pan: One Boy’s Journey to America, McNiff chronicles one Cuban family’s sacrifice in sending their son on a historic “Freedom Flight” to America to escape the aftermath of the Cuban revolution in the late 1950s.
McNiff was inspired to write this important historical fiction book by her own family’s daring escape from Cuba.
McNiff’s mother escaped as a young adult, leaving Havana without her parents. On board the plane, she consoled children like Pedro on a freedom flight. Pedro Pan: One Boy’s Journey to America is a fictional account of the secret Pedro Pan Operation that brought 14,600 children to the United States, leaving their homes, family, and culture behind. Her mother’s grandparents were one of the last groups to narrowly leave Havana, just before the Cuban Missile Crisis.
As a journalist, McNiff is intrigued by the sacrifice and resilience of immigrants leaving behind their country for a better life and likes to write about these important events, inspired by survival tales and opportunities for a new life. In 1995, on assignment for WSVN 7, she interviewed the late Monsignor Bryan O. Walsh, the leading force behind the Pedro Pan Operation.
Her book is dedicated to her Cuban-American relatives, Hispanic culture, and all the “Pedro Pans” who took freedom flights to America.
Another influence was her Italian grandfather leaving Italy as a teenager and sailing into New York. McNiff is also currently writing a fiction novel about the life stories of a unique Holocaust survivor, a nine-year-old girl who was the only family member to survive the Holocaust and traveled after the war to live her life in the United States.
Hailing from South Florida, when she isn’t writing fascinating survival stories of sacrifice and perseverance, McNiff enjoys traveling, writing, and drawing inspiration in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, close to where Walt Whitman published Leaves of Grass. She is the President of New Moon Media Group, a full-service public relations, marketing, and media firm, and a principal writer for New Moon Media House, a publishing imprint of New Moon Media featuring books for children and adults. Pedro Pan: One Boy’s Journey to America is her debut children’s book.
In memory of my beloved grandparents Dr. Manuel Infante Ayala and Maria Josefa Infante, my aunts Martha Infante Bailey, and Teresa Giral Mosquera, and my uncle Dr. Juan A. Giral. They escaped tyranny and oppression by fleeing Cuba, leaving their homes, family, and culture in a lost paradise the day they left Havana for America. And to all the Pedro Pan children, including my mother, Mercedes Infante, who took freedom flights without their parents.