A Gift of Gracias: The Legend of Altagracia

A Gift of Gracias: The Legend of Altagracia

by Beatriz Vidal
     
 

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After their olive crop fails, Maria fears that her family will have to abandon their farm on the new island colony. Then, one night she dreams of a mysterious beautiful lady shrouded by trees with branches hung with hundreds of little suns. They are oranges like the ones Maria's parents once ate in their homeland, Valencia, Spain. That very day Maria and her family

Overview

After their olive crop fails, Maria fears that her family will have to abandon their farm on the new island colony. Then, one night she dreams of a mysterious beautiful lady shrouded by trees with branches hung with hundreds of little suns. They are oranges like the ones Maria's parents once ate in their homeland, Valencia, Spain. That very day Maria and her family plant the seeds that soon yield a magnificent orange grove and save the farm. But who was the mysterious lady who appeared in her dream and will Maria ever find her again?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Vidal's (Federico and the Magi's Gift) finely detailed gouache paintings provide exquisite accompaniment to Alvarez's (The Secret Footprints) retelling, a Dominican legend of a miracle performed by Nuestra Se ora de la Altagracia, "Our Lady of Thanks." The prose plants just enough magic to prepare readers for Maria's night visions and their magical results. When Pap returns from the city, he brings Maria oranges; as she tries one, she observes, "It tasted like a sweet sunrise." As they eat, Maria's father prepares her for the dismal prospect of moving to the city, since their farm is failing, but her father's friend, Quisqueya, whispers, "We will find a way to stay." Maria dreams that night: Quisqueya appears as her guide, urging her to "Say gracias," as she plants orange seeds in the ground. She does, and the seeds bloom into full-grown orange trees, and "a beautiful lady with golden skin and a crown of stars" appears. When Maria tells her family what she dreamed, they immediately plant orange seeds. Miracles follow-"in a matter of months, trees that would normally take years to grow yielded a large crop," and Quisqueya magically acquires a portrait of Our Lady of Altagracia. Vidal smoothly moves from the lushness of the orange grove and rolling hills to the dream sequences. Together, author and artist make dreams-come-true seem possible, as long as one remains grateful. Ages 5-8. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-After the failure of her father's olive crop, Mar'a fears that her family will have to leave their farm in the New World. Then one night, inspiration comes when she dreams of planting the seeds from the oranges that came from her parents' homeland of Valencia, Spain. A beautiful and mysterious woman-Our Lady of Thanks-enters the dream, foretelling a bountiful harvest. The next day, Mar'a convinces her family to begin planting the seeds, and soon their land is transformed into a fertile orange grove. Rich in cultural authenticity and brimming with the magical realism that is characteristic of Hispanic literature, this elegantly woven tale introduces the legend of Our Lady of Altagracia, the patron saint of the Dominican Republic. Children of all backgrounds will be drawn in by the universal themes of home and family, but the story will have particular relevance for those raised in Hispanic or Catholic cultures. With an exquisite use of watercolor and gouache, Vidal has painted colorful, yet warm illustrations that add depth to the story. An author's note offers a detailed account of the legend, personalized by actual events from the author's youth.-Debbie Lewis O'Donnell, Alachua County Library District, Gainesville, FL Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Alvarez creates a lovely tale based on legends from her childhood in the Dominican Republic. Our Lady of Altagracia, like Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, is a New World version of the Virgin Mary, revered by both the Indians and the Spanish settlers. Mar'a's parents have not been successful growing olives, and are in danger of losing their farm. However, when her father and the Indian Quisqueya return from town with Valencia oranges from Spain, Mar'a has a vision of "a beautiful lady with golden skin and a crown of stars," in an orange grove. Following Our Lady's instructions, the family plants the orange seeds, saying gracias with each one. In a matter of months, trees that would normally take years to grow bear fruit. In a second miracle, Quisqueya has a vision of Our Lady amidst the stars. The falling stars that he catches on his blanket are transformed into a shining, light-giving portrait of Our Lady. Vidal's detailed, lovingly rendered pictures glow like the oranges and the stars she so beautifully depicts. (Picture book. 5-8)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375824258
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
10/11/2005
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
8.75(w) x 11.25(h) x 0.36(d)
Lexile:
AD670L (what's this?)
Age Range:
3 - 7 Years

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