New Release: Pedro’s Yo-Yos

Today, we are delighted to celebrate the release of Pedro’s Yo-Yos: How a Filipino Immigrant Came to America and Changed the World of Toys, the backstory of the yo-yo and a colorful biography of businessman Pedro Flores.

It can spin and roll, leap and twirl. You can stretch it between your hands or swing it between your legs. The tricks you can do with one are nearly endless. No wonder the yo-yo is one of the most successful toys ever made! And its popularity began with a Filipino immigrant.

Pedro Flores was born in the Philippines in 1896, when Spain still ruled his country. After the US took over, Pedro traveled to California, received an education, and looked for ways to go into business for himself. Then he remembered a toy from his childhood called the yo-yo, which means “come back” in Tagalog. With a couple of blocks of wood and a little string, Pedro created his first model yo-yo and practiced tricks to show it off.

It was an instant hit! When children saw the yo-yo in action, they clamored to get one themselves. So Pedro always performed his tricks near movie theaters, outside candy shops–anywhere he knew children would see the toy. Soon he was hiring fellow Filipinos to advertise it for him, while he ran factories that manufactured more than a million yo-yos a week! Winner of Lee & Low’s New Voices award, Pedro’s Yo-Yos is the lively story of one immigrant’s ups and downs as an entrepreneur and his determination to create a toy that would capture the imagination of children and adults all over the world.

Praise for Pedro’s Yo-Yos:

⭐ “Bright smiles on the faces in Angel’s illustrations add even more warmth to Peñas’ insightful and stirring account. A glowing addition to the stories of immigrants who have made good in this, their new country.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Informative. . . The concise text, which nicely encapsulates key moments from Flores’ life, is beautifully accompanied by Angel’s naturalistic and expressive digital paintings.” —Booklist

Order your copy today:
Lee & Low Books
Barnes & Noble

Photo of Rob Peñas wearing glasses and a collared shirt under a purple sweater.

Rob Peñas is a second-generation Filipino-American whose parents immigrated to the United States in the 1960s. He grew up in a house filled with books and playing 16-inch softball. Pedro’s Yo-Yos was a New Voices winner and marks his debut. Rob was inspired to write this book when he learned that the ever-popular yo-yo toy was credited to a Filipino. It was important to Rob that Pedro’s story and achievement not be left in obscurity. He lives with his family in Kansas, where the prairie is not too far away.

Photo of Carl Angel cropped at the collar. He has black hair and is wearing a black shirt.

Carl Angel is a visual artist who enjoys participating in the creation of narrative media–whether it is illustration, design, or independent films. He has illustrated, designed, and art directed numerous books for young readers, including Lakas and the Manilatown Fish, Willie Wins, and Xochitl and the Flowers / Xóchitl, la Niña de las Flores, among others. He lives with his wife and son in Burbank, California. Visit his site at