My Name Is Mar'a Isabel

Alma Flor Ada, Author, K. Dyble Thompson, Illustrator, Ana M. Cerro, Translator Atheneum Books $16.99 (64p) ISBN 978-0-689-31517-6
Armed with her new blue bookbag, Maria Isabel bravely faces her first day at a new school. But when she meets her new teacher, she is told there are already two other Marias in the class. ``Why don't we call you Mary instead?'' her teacher suggests, unaware that Maria was named for both her grandmothers, a grandfather and her father. Maria's inability to respond to ``Mary'' leads to more problems. Simply told, this story combines the struggle of a Puerto Rican family's efforts to improve their life with a shared sense of pride in their heritage. The author's carefully drawn characterizations avoid stereotypes, thus increasing their appeal and believability. An essay involving a wish list gives Maria a chance to reclaim her name, and allows her teacher to make amends. Abetted by Thompson's straightforward black-and-white drawings, this contemporary tale serves as a good reminder that no two names are really alike. Ages 7-10. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/29/1993
Release date: 04/01/1993
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