Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal | SLJ Review

PreS-Gr 2 –It’s said there’s a story behind every name and Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela is surely a moniker worthy of six tales.

redstarMARTINEZ-NEAL, Juana. Alma and How She Got Her Name. ISBN 9780763693558.

————. Alma y cómo obtuvo su nombre. Spanish ed. ISBN 9780763693589.

ea vol: illus. by Juana Martinez-Neal. 32p. Candlewick. Apr. 2018. Tr $15.99.

PreS-Gr 2 –It’s said there’s a story behind every name and Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela is surely a moniker worthy of six tales. After complaining that her name is so long that it “never fits,” Alma’s father shares stories with the girl about the people she’s been named after, including a book lover, an artist, and a deeply spiritual woman, among others. Martinez-Neal, the recipient of the 2018 Pura Belpré Illustrator Award for La Princesa and the Pea , works in print transfers with graphite and colored pencils for these images, limiting her palette to black, charcoal gray, and blushes of color. The round, stylized figure of the girl, dressed in pink striped pants and a white shirt, pops against the sepia pages (reminiscent of old, family photo albums). As Alma’s namesakes emerge from the shadows when they are introduced, they and their distinguishing items (books, plants, paintbrushes, etc.) are highlighted in a pale, gray-blue. The softly colored images and curvilinear shapes that embrace the figures evoke a sense of warmth and affection. At the story’s end, the only tale readers have not heard is Alma’s. “You will make your own story,” states her father. VERDICT A beautifully illustrated, tender story to be shared with all children, sure to evoke conversations about their names.–Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal

This review was published in the School Library Journal March 2018 issue.

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