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A library for Juana

by Pat Mora


Publishers Weekly :

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Mora (Tomas and the Library Lady) concisely traces the rise of spirited Juana Ines from inquisitive youngster to a 17th-century Mexican scholar. Insatiably curious Juana, age three, follows her older sister to school and asks to join the class. Mora laces her narrative with lively anecdotes, as when the determined Juana shows up for dinner dressed as a boy after her mother announces that only boys can attend university. At 10, the girl's mother sends her to live with family in Mexico City, and by age 15, Juana takes up residence in the viceroy's palace there, as a lady-in-waiting. Vidal's (Rainbow Crow) meticulously detailed, small-scale watercolor-and-gouache art details the bustling city as well as the finery of the palatial residence, where Juana immerses herself in the library and becomes an accomplished writer of poems, plays and songs. A standout spread shows Juana flanked by 40 scholars assembled by the viceroy at a giant round table; small insets depict the topics of their quiz (a harp, a caduceus, the planets in orbit around the sun). The narrative, unfortunately, appears in an uncommonly small font, but this story of persistence and pioneering will inspire youngsters. Even with the book's rather abrupt ending, the heroine's journey, coupled with Vidal's depiction of expressive faces and lovely renderings of flowers that spill from the borders of the pictures make for a memorable volume. Ages 5-8.

Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

School Library Journal :

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Gr 2-4-Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz died in 1695 in a convent in Mexico. Despite the passage of more than 300 years, she is still considered one of Mexico's most brilliant scholars. An internationally known bibliophile and poet whose works are studied in university Spanish literature courses, she was a Renaissance woman in the most complete sense of the word. Mora's beautifully crafted text does credit to its subject, following her from birth to death. Sor Juana Ines comes across as intelligent, headstrong, humorous, and kind, and her retreat to the convent as a place of learning seems natural. The use of one of her riddle poems, both in Spanish and in a witty English translation, gives young readers a taste of this eminent poet. The text is perfectly complemented by Vidal's brilliant, detailed illustrations that have the look and exactitude of Renaissance miniatures. This is an exceptional introduction to an exceptional woman, and would enhance any collection.-Ann Welton, Grant Elementary School, Tacoma, WA

Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.


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