Alma And How She Got Her Name (Juana Martinez-Neal)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Alma And How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal, a wonderful tale of a little girl with a very big – and very special – name.

Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has a very long name, so long that it often doesn’t fit when she tries to write it out. She tells her father, who sits her down and promises to explain what her name means, then she can decide if it fits. He then tells her of five people: her grandmothers, Sofia and Candela, her great-grandmother Esperanza, her grandfather José, and her great-aunt Pura. Each family member was special and unique in their own way, and Alma connects with each over a shared interest or characteristic. At last, her father explains her first name, Alma: he chose it just for her. She is the first Alma, and her story is her own to write. But she will always carry her family with her to encourage and inspire her – they’re right there in her name.

Delightful and dear. Alma’s story celebrates both specific Latin-American naming customs and the tradition and emotion behind them, as well as the notion that our names have meaning, often both as a connection to our past as well as an identity all our own. Alma’s namesakes are presented as individuals admirable for gestures big and small, which adds a nice message about how we honor and connect to our older family members, even after they’ve passed. The illustrations are adorable, using simple, charming characters and an exquisite use of light and shadow to set a range of moods. The length is perfect, and JJ loved it. This one was just wonderful, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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