Reviews for Alma and How She Got Her Name

by Juana Martinez-Neal

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has a very long name for a little girl. So long, in fact, that she has to tape extra paper to the page when she writes it, just so it will fit. One day she complains about this to her father, and he sits down with her to tell Alma the story of her name. Tucked together in a cozy armchair, he opens a photo album to a black-and-white picture of Alma's grandmother Sofia. He tells his daughter how Sofia loved flowers and books, and Alma realizes she also loves those things. I am Sofia, she declares. Next, she hears about her great-grandmother Esperanza, who dreamed of traveling; and when readers turn the page, Alma stands before a large world map, zigzagged with red string marking all the places the girl wishes to go she is Esperanza, too. As her father continues, Alma comes to understand that her name fits her perfectly. Martinez-Neal brings her gentle story to life through beautiful graphite- and colored-pencil artwork set against cream-colored backgrounds. Soft blue and red details pop against the charcoal scenes, which perfectly reflect the snapshots of Alma's family. While Alma feels enriched by learning her family's history, she is also empowered by the knowledge that she will give her name Alma its own story.--Smith, Julia Copyright 2018 Booklist


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Alma Sofia Esperanza Jos Pura Candela has a very long name, and she's about to find out how she came to have it.Alma is a cute little girl with the sweetest pair of striped red-and-white pants ever. She also happens to have a very long nameso long, in fact, that it never fits. Her father sits her down to tell her the story of her name, "Then you decide if it fits." And so Alma learns about her grandmother Sofia; her great-grandmother Esperanza; her grandfather Jos; her great-aunt Pura; and her other grandmother Candela. And Alma? She learns Alma was picked just for her. "You will make your own story." Peruvian-born Martinez-Neal never expresses it in the text, but the illustrations are filled with references to Peru, the country where Alma's family comes from. Mostly monochromatic against a cream background, the illustrationsprint transfers with graphite and colored pencilsare delightful, capturing the distinctive essences of Alma's many namesakes. Alma is depicted as the color of the paper background, with pink cheeks and a black bob haircut. Whereas the story starts with Alma's name written in a childish print on a piece of paper that needs an extra piece of paper taped to it, the story ends with Alma's name in grand and elegant display types. That's her name, and it fits her just right! A Spanish edition, Alma y cmo obtuvo su nombre, publishes simultaneously.A celebration of identity, family and belonging. (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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 © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Alma Sofia Esperanza Josi Pura Candela feels self-conscious about her long name until her father tells her about the family members after whom she is named. The pictures--grayscale print-transfer illustrations with soft textures--steal the show in their depiction of the sweet closeness between Alma and her father as well as her connection to her ancestors. Also available in Spanish. (c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.