Alma and How She Got Her Name

Juana Martinez-Neal. Candlewick, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-9355-8
Her full name is Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela, and it’s so long that “it never fits,” as the girl explains to her father. (When she writes it on a sheet of paper, she has to tape an extra piece to the bottom.) But as Daddy explains that there’s a remarkable relative behind each of her names, Alma realizes that she embodies their talents and character, and she comfortably communes with the spirits of the departed. She loves to draw like her paternal grandfather, José, and she’s so inspired by her activist maternal grandmother, Candela, that she strikes the classic Norma Rae pose and declares “I am Candela!” surrounded by her stuffed animals. Best of all, Daddy concludes, she is “the first and only Alma. You will make your own story.” Martinez-Neal’s first outing as author is a winner—her velvety and largely monochromatic pencil drawings, punctuated with cherry red, teem with emotional intimacy. It’s an origin story that envelops readers like a hug. Ages 4–8. Agent: Stefanie Von Borstel, Full Circle Literary. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/29/2018
Release date: 04/10/2018
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