Alma and How She Got Her Name


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  • PUBLISHER: Candlewick Press
  • RELEASE DATE: April 10, 2018
  • AUTHOR: Juana Martinez-Neal
  • ILLUSTRATOR: Juana Martinez-Neal
  • AGE LEVEL: 4-8, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-9355-8 (English Hardcover)

What’s in a name? For one little girl, her very long name tells a vibrant story of where she came from — and who she may one day be.

In her author-illustrator debut, Juana Martinez-Neal opens a treasure box of discovery for children who may be curious about their own name or origin story.

★ Kids’ IndieNext TOP 10 Spring 2018

★ A Junior Library Guild Primary Spanish Selection

★ Amazon Editor’s Pick April 2018 Ages 5-8

★ CBC’s April 2018 Hot Off the Press


Publishers Weekly:

★ Martinez-Neal’s first outing as an author is a winner—her (…) pencil drawings (…) teem with emotional intimacy. It’s an origin story that envelopes readers like a hug. —Starred review


★ 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. —Starred review

School Library Journal:

★ The softly colored images and curvilinear shapes that embrace the figures evoke a sense of warmth and affection (…) A beautifully illustrated, tender story to be shared with all children —Starred review


Mostly monochromatic against a cream background, the illustrations (…) are delightful, capturing the distinctive essences of Alma’s many namesakes. A celebration of identity, family and belonging.

De Colores:

★ In Alma’s search for her identity, Martinez-Neal tells a gentle story of family culture and history and fills it with illustrative detail that will encourage the youngest readers to embark on their own journeys of self- and family discovery. Youngest readers (and older readers as well) will relate to “Alma y cómo obtuvo su nombre” and “Alma and How She Got Her Name”, and teachers and librarians will find tons of teachable moments here. Both versions of this loving story are highly recommended. —Beverly Slapin

The Wall Street Journal:

Like artifacts, the names that parents give children often have stories to tell. Every piece of Alma’s name, she discovers, comes to her from someone in her family, and, as she and her father talk, Alma feels a new sense of connection (…) Touching on cultural themes (…) this is a tender outing for children ages 4-8.

Story Monsters Ink:

A great book for introducing family history and the importance of our place within it.


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