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Sonia Manzano (1950–) Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Work in Progress, Sidelights

Born 1950, in New York, NY; Ethnicity: "Puerto Rican." Education: Attended Carnegie-Mellon University, 1968–71. Politics: Democrat. Hobbies and other interests: Kayaking.


Office—Sesame Workshop, 1 Lincoln Plaza, New York, NY 10023. Agent—Sara Jane Freymann, Stepping Stone Literary Agency, 59 W. 71st St., New York, NY 10023.


Actress and writer. Sesame Workshop, New York, NY, actress and writer, performing role of María on Sesame Street, 1971–. Actor in stage productions, including in Godspell, 1971; and The Exonerated, produced off-Broadway. Actor in television films, including (as María) Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, 1978; A Special Sesame Street Christmas, 1978; Sesame Street in Puerto Rico, 1979; Sesame Street: Put down the Duckie, 1988; Sesame Street: 20 and Still Counting, 1989; Sesame Street Jam: A Musical Celebration, 1994; Elmo Saves Christmas, 1996; The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland, 1999; and Sesame Street Presents: The Street We Live On, 2004. Actress in television series, including B.J. and the Bear, 1981, and Law & Order, 2004. Actress in films, including (as grocery clerk) Death Wish, 1974; and (as María) Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird, 1985. March of Dimes, former member of board; George Foster Peabody Awards, member of board, 1997–2001; Symphony Space, New York, NY, member of board; member, Bronx River Alliance, 2004–. Lecturer. Affiliated with Three Amigas (design licensing company).

Honors Awards

Education 2003 Hispanic Heritage honor, Hispanic Heritage Foundation; Parents' Choice honor designation, Child magazine Best Children's Book selection, and Miami-Dade County One Picture Book, One Community selection, all 2004, all for No Dogs Allowed!; hon-
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orary doctorate, Notre Dame University, 2005; two Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series; awards from Association of Hispanic Arts, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, National Hispanic Media Coalition, and Committee for Hispanic Children and Families.


No Dogs Allowed!, illustrated by Jon J. Muth, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2004.

Contributor to Thanks and Giving: All Year, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2004. Author of numerous scripts for television series Sesame Street, beginning 1985; author of video scripts, including The Best of Elmo, Big Bird Visits the Hospital, Sing along with Sonia Mazano, and Sing, Hoot, and Howl. Author of column "Talking Outloud Parenting," for Sesame Street Web site.


No Dogs Allowed! was adapted as a video recording, Spoken Arts, 2005.

Work in Progress

A memoir, titled This Is My Story and I'm Sticking to It; a children's picture book titled A Box Full of Kittens, for Simon & Schuster, 2007.


Sonia Manzano is known to several generations of Americans as María, the role she has performed on the long-running Public Television series Sesame Street for over two decades. Although she continues to devote much of her time to both acting and writing for the popular program, Manzano has also become active as a role model for Hispanic children. One of the first Hispanics to appear regularly on a U.S. television series, Manzano has also been active as a speaker and as a member of several community organizations. As a writer, she has also engaged her core audience—young children—with the 2005 picture book No Dogs Allowed!

With engaging illustrations by John J. Muth, No Dogs Allowed! carries young readers along as six-year-old Iris describes a family outing to a nearby park. Packing up everything they can think of to ensure a day of fun, Iris's large extended family—along with the family dog—overcome a series of setbacks and mishaps en route, only to learn that no dogs are allowed inside the park gates once they arrive. Manzano's story "reflects loving family ties and the value of shared responsibilities," noted Teresa Bateman in a review for School Library Journal, while a Kirkus Reviews critic wrote that "children will happily hitch a ride" and "laugh at the exaggerated but believable details and misadventures" included in "Iris's sunny account."

Manzano told SATA: "After playing 'Maria' on Sesame Street for several years, I decided to add to the experience by writing for the show as well. I watched a lot of television as a child and felt that kids deserved better.

"The first children's book author I admired was Cynthia Rylant. Fiction is what I read the most—fiction about the fascinating things that people do. A good story, read or written, can take you places. I love reading about the human condition and attempting to describe it from my point of view. The things people do fascinate me and I try to share that interest with both children and adults. "I write everyday—first thing in the morning if possible. My parenting column, called "Talking Outloud," can be found at www.sesameworkshop.org."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, June 1, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of No Dogs Allowed!, p. 1744.

Books in Canada, June-July, 2004, Olga Stein, review of No Dogs Allowed!, p. 44.

Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2004, review of No Dogs Allowed!, p. 227.

Library Media Connection, January, 2005, Pam Watts Flavin, review of No Dogs Allowed!, p. 72.

School Library Journal, July, 2004, Jane Marino, review of No Dogs Allowed, p. 82.


Sonia Manzano Home Page, http://www.soniamanzano.com (December 19, 2005).

Soy Unica! Soy Latina! Web site, http://www.soyunica.gov/ (December 19, 2005), "Spotlight on Sonia Manzano."

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