In the marvelous new picture book Alma and How She Got Her Name, Peruvian born author and illustrator Juana Martinez-Leal introduces us to Alma, a little girl with a very long name. And just what is that name?
Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela.
Yes. That is a very long name. And Alma wants to know just how she got it.
What ensues is a lovely conversation between Alma and her father, who shares stories of all her namesakes: grandparents and great-grandparents who loved books, created art, and spoke out against injustice. Sharing family stories is a great way to share language and conversation, and also develops story telling skills. More importantly, however, it helps children develop a more robust sense of who they are.
I fell in love with this book the first time I read it. The interaction between Alma and her father is tender and humorous, and the background of each of her family namesakes is presented in but a few lines, perfect for reading aloud or for reading independently. Martinez-Leal illustrates her book in mainly monochromatic tones with soft pink and blue highlights, giving the book a gentle, almost old-fashioned feel. It has also been simultaneously published in a Spanish language translation!