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A Gift of Gracias: The Legend of Altagracia

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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 plant the seeds that soon yield a magnificent orange grove and save the farm. But who was the mysterious lady who ...
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Vidal, Beatriz 2005 Hard cover New. No dust jacket. Text in English, Spanish. Library binding. Paper over boards. 40 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: Children/juvenile.

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Westminister, Maryland, U.S.A. 2005 Large Hardcover First Edition Brand New. No Jacket as Issued Signed By Author! Flat signed by author on title pg.

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Westminister, Maryland, U.S.A. 2005 Large Hardcover First Edition Brand New. No Jacket as Issued Signed By Author! Flat signed by author on title pg.

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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?

From the Hardcover edition.

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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)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375924255
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 10/11/2005
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.75 (w) x 10.25 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Julia  Alvarez
Julia Alvarez
With her vivid tales of growing up between the two disparate cultures of the Dominican Republic and the United States, Julia Alvarez has drawn comparisons to writers ranging from Jane Austen to Gabriel García Márquez. However, its is Alvarez's fresh, vivid voice that sets her apart, and speaks to fans from both cultures.

Biography

Julia Alvarez was born in New York City during her Dominican parents' "first and failed" stay in the United States. While she was still an infant, the family returned to the Dominican Republic -- where her father, a vehement opponent of the Trujillo dictatorship, resumed his activities with the resistance. In 1960, in fear for their safety, the Alvarezes fled the country, settling once more in New York.

Alvarez has often said that the immigrant experience was the crucible that turned her into a writer. Her struggle with the nuances of the English language made her deeply conscious of the power of words, and exposure to books and reading sharpened both her imagination and her storytelling skills. She graduated summa cum laude from Middlebury College in 1971, received her M.F.A. from Syracuse University, and spent the next two decades in the education field, traveling around the country with the poetry-in-the-schools program and teaching English and Creative Writing to elementary, high school, and college students.

Alvarez's verse began to appear in literary magazines and anthologies, and in 1984, she published her first poetry collection, Homecoming. She had less success marketing her novel -- a semiautobiographical story that traced the painful assimilation of a Dominican family over a period of more than 30 eventful years. A series of 15 interconnected stories that unfold in reverse chronological order, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents addresses, head-on, the obstacles and challenges immigrants face in adapting to life in a new country.

It took some time for "ethnic" literature to gain enough of a foothold in the literary establishment for Alvarez's agent, a tireless champion of minority authors, to find a publisher. But when the novel was released in 1991, it received strongly positive reviews. And so, at the tender age of 41, Alvarez became a star. Three years later, she proved herself more than a "one-hit wonder," when her second novel, In the Time of Butterflies was nominated for the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Award. Since then, she has made her name as a writer of remarkable versatility, juggling novels, poetry, children's books, and nonfiction with equal grace and aplomb. She lives in Vermont, where she serves as a writer in residence at her alma mater, Middlebury College. In addition, she and her husband run a coffee farm in the Dominican Republic that hosts a school to teach the local farmers and their families how to read and write.

Good To Know

From 1975 until 1978, Alvarez served as Poet-in-the-Schools in Kentucky, Delaware, and North Carolina.

She has held positions as a professor of creative writing and English at Phillips Andover Academy in Massachusetts (1979-81), the University of Vermont (1981-83), and the University of Illinois (1985-88).

In 1984, Alvarez was the Jenny McKean Moore Visiting Writer at George Washington University. Currently, she is a professor of English at Middlebury College.

She and her husband run a coffee farm, Alta Gracia, in the Dominican Republic.

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    1. Hometown:
      Middlebury, Vermont
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 27, 1950
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Middlebury College, 1971; M.F.A., Syracuse University, 1975

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