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Love, Amalia
     

Love, Amalia

by Alma Flor Ada, Gabriel M. Zubizarreta
 

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A young girl’s discovery of her cultural heritage helps her lovingly cope with loss in this tender tale from acclaimed authors Alma Flor Ada and Gabriel Zubizarreta.Amalia’s best friend Martha is moving away, and Amalia is feeling sad and angry. And yet, even when life seems unfair, the loving, wise words of Amalia’s abuelita have a

Overview

A young girl’s discovery of her cultural heritage helps her lovingly cope with loss in this tender tale from acclaimed authors Alma Flor Ada and Gabriel Zubizarreta.Amalia’s best friend Martha is moving away, and Amalia is feeling sad and angry. And yet, even when life seems unfair, the loving, wise words of Amalia’s abuelita have a way of making everything a little bit brighter. Amalia finds great comfort in times shared with her grandmother: cooking, listening to stories and music, learning, and looking through her treasured box of family cards.

But when another loss racks Amalia’s life, nothing makes sense anymore. In her sorrow, will Amalia realize just how special she is, even when the ones she loves are no longer near?

From leading voices in Hispanic literature, this thoughtful and touching depiction of one girl’s transition through loss and love is available in both English and Spanish.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Ada and Zubizaretta’s (Dancing Home) uneven collaboration focuses on the deep bond between Mexican-American sixth-grader Amalia and her grandmother. When Amalia’s best friend, Martha, moves away from Chicago, Amalia’s Abuelita helps Amalia cope with the anger and sorrow. But when Abuelita unexpectedly dies, Amalia descends into an overwhelming grief that renders her unable to connect with the many relatives who descend upon their household—and whose stories Abuelita often shared with her on their weekly Fridays together. The authors successfully depict family love and closeness across generations and distances, but their combined voice lacks energy, relying on summaries and platitudes: “Moments like this made their friendship so special.” Two of the livelier sections are memories: one of a camping trip with Martha’s family and one of Amalia’s grandmother’s guidance in helping her granddaughter resolve a wrong action. In the final chapters, when Amalia directly faces her grief and reaches out to her relatives, the book finally takes on an authentic emotional poignancy, bringing a closing richness to this story of a girl’s first experience of loss. Ages 8–12. Agent: Adriana Dominguez, Full Circle Literary. (July)
From the Publisher
“Ada and Zubizarreta (Dancing Home, 2011) reunite to focus on a young Latina girl coping with loss…. The authors tackle issues of love, loss and familial ties with a sympathetic, light hand and blend Spanish words and Latino music and recipes into Amalia’s tale. A charming story, especially for children facing the loss of grandparents.”

Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2012

“With sensitively drawn characters and a low-key story moving between present and past, the authors construct a portrait of a multigenerational immigrant family. The Latino culture of the family is reflected in the cooking the two do together, the memories Abuelita passes on, and all the letters she has kept from distant loved ones.”

Horn Book Magazine, July/August 2012

“Ada and Zubizaretta’s (Dancing Home)…collaboration focuses on the deep bond between Mexican-American sixth-grader Amalia and her grandmother…. The authors successfully depict family love and closeness across generations and distances…. In the final chapters…the book…takes on an authentic emotional poignancy, bringing a closing richness to this story of a girl’s first experience of loss.”

Publishers Weekly, May 28, 2012

“Amalia is upset when her best friend announces that she is moving from Chicago to California. When Martha leaves, Amalia turns to her grandmother for comfort. It is in her kitchen and at her table that the child learns not only about her family and her Mexican heritage, but also about herself…. This story utilizes a special intergenerational relationship to introduce Mexican culture and traditions within the themes of changing family and friendships. Spanish words and phrases are woven into the text…this quiet story may provide a different perspective on the loss of a loved one.”

School Library Journal, August 2012

“Latina sixth-grader Amalia is so upset by her best friend Martha’s move from their Chicago neighborhood to California that she can’t even say good-bye. When her beloved abuelita passes away suddenly a few days later, she doesn’t even have the chance to say good-bye….Sprinkled with Spanish words and phrases, this quiet story charmingly emphasizes the importance of both friendship and intergenerational relationships. It concludes with simple recipes for making some of Abuelita’s favorite desserts.”

Booklist, August 1, 2012

September 2012 The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“A touching portrayal of love and loss…. The emotions ring true, with Amalia’s raw pain of loss and resentment respectfully and vividly depicted.”
September 2012 The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“A touching portrayal of love and loss…. The emotions ring true, with Amalia’s raw pain of loss and resentment respectfully and vividly depicted.”
Kirkus Reviews
Ada and Zubizarreta (Dancing Home, 2011) reunite to focus on a young Latina girl coping with loss. Sixth-grader Amalia lives in Chicago with her Mexican-American mother and Puerto Rican father. While making melcocha (taffy) one afternoon with Abuelita, Amalia shares that her best friend, Martha, is moving to California. Abuelita calms her with tales of the people she has lost through the years. While these tales temporarily relieve Amalia's anxiety about Martha's move, she is still upset. When Martha and her family leave sooner than expected, Amalia becomes angry and is convinced that she has lost her friend forever. She feels the emptiness of life without Martha and reminisces about the great times they had together, but her worries are pushed aside when Abuelita dies unexpectedly. As her family gathers from Mexico and Costa Rica to celebrate Abuelita's long life, Amalia has a difficult time understanding why everyone else isn't as sad as she is. After her mother gives her one of Abuelita's most cherished possessions, she begins to understand the important role she played in her grandmother's life and finds the courage to contact Martha. The authors tackle issues of love, loss and familial ties with a sympathetic, light hand and blend Spanish words and Latino music and recipes into Amalia's tale. A charming story, especially for children facing the loss of grandparents. (recipes) (Fiction. 8-12)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“A touching portrayal of love and loss…. The emotions ring true, with Amalia’s raw pain of loss and resentment respectfully and vividly depicted.”
September 2012 - The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“A touching portrayal of love and loss…. The emotions ring true, with Amalia’s raw pain of loss and resentment respectfully and vividly depicted.”
Children's Literature - Justina Engebretson
Could life get any worse? For sixth grade Amalia, it feels as though the whole world has come to an end and nothing will ever be the same again. Her best friend Martha is moving away to California, miles and miles away from Chicago. Martha seems excited about the move, while Amalia is fighting anger one minute and tears the next. Even the wise and kind words of Amalia's grandmother cannot seem to pull Amalia from her despair, though she does find some small comfort in her grandmother's kitchen while baking and listening to old family stories. When Martha comes to say goodbye, she leaves Amalia a card but Amalia refuses to open it. She tries to forget Martha is gone but everywhere she goes, Amalia is reminded of her. Less than one week after Martha's goodbye, tragedy strikes again, only this time Amalia does not get the chance to say goodbye. Amidst her pain and loss, Amalia learns some important lessons about life and love, while finding a gift she will treasure her whole life. This chapter book tells a bittersweet tale of friendship, love, and goodbyes. Through Amalia's experience, the author sensitively approaches the topic of death and grief, while painting a beautiful picture of life and the joy of family and friends. The Spanish words sprinkled throughout bring authenticity to the tone of the text and the cultural heritage of the main character. Amalia is a wonderful, three-dimensional character with complex, raw emotions that are genuine and real, making her someone that young girls can relate to. Questions and activities are provided at the end of the book to promote group discussion and further reflection. Overall, this is an excellent story that will appeal to elementary and early middle school girls. Reviewer: Justina Engebretson
School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—Amalia is upset when her best friend announces that she is moving from Chicago to California. When Martha leaves, Amalia turns to her grandmother for comfort. It is in her kitchen and at her table that the child learns not only about her family and her Mexican heritage, but also about herself. As Abuelita shares her Christmas-card ritual with her granddaughter, Amalia is given glimpses of her aunts and uncles and her mother, and notices the care that Abuelita takes in her communication and responses with everyone. It's quite the the opposite of how Amalia treated Martha at the time of her move. When her grandmother dies suddenly, the child feels lost. Her extended family, whom she has heard so much about, is suddenly around, but instead of making her feel better, she feels worse. Through flashbacks, readers see just how close Amalia was to Abuelita and how much she relied on her for comfort and advice. Over time, with the help of the cherished Christmas-card box, she begins to heal, and by recalling Abuelita's words and deeds, she begins to reach out to her family members, and to Martha as well. This story utilizes a special intergenerational relationship to introduce Mexican culture and traditions within the themes of changing family and friendships. Spanish words and phrases are woven into the text. While it does not break new ground, this quiet story may provide a different perspective on the loss of a loved one.—Stacy Dillon, LREI, New York City

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781442424029
Publisher:
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
07/10/2012
Pages:
144
Sales rank:
1,374,186
Product dimensions:
5.78(w) x 8.38(h) x 0.66(d)
Lexile:
940L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Love, Amalia

  • What is it, Amalia? Is something bothering you?” Amalia’s grandmother removed the boiling honey from the stovetop to let it cool. Then she wiped her forehead with a tissue and looked at her granddaughter. The light from the setting sun entered the small window over the sink with a soft glow. The geraniums on the windowsill added a subtle hint of pink. “You are too quiet, hijita. Tell me what’s bothering you,” her grandmother insisted. “It is obvious that something is wrong.”

    “It’s okay, Abuelita, de verdad. I’m fine.”

    Amalia tried to sound convincing, but her grandmother continued, “Is it because Martha did not come with you today? Is she all right?”

    Going to her grandmother’s home on Friday afternoon was something Amalia had been doing since she was little. For the last two years, since they started fourth grade, her friend Martha accompanied her most Fridays. Every week Amalia looked forward to the time she spent at her grandmother’s house. But today was different.

    Amalia paused before answering, “She is not coming back anymore, Abuelita. ¡Nunca más!” Despite Amalia’s efforts to control her feelings, her voice cracked and her brown eyes watered.

    “¿Qué pasa, hijita? What’s going on?” Amalia’s grandmother asked softly, gently hugging her and waiting for an explanation.

    Amalia shook her head, as she frequently did when she was upset, and her long black hair swept her shoulders. “Martha is going away. Her family is moving west, to some weird place in California. So far away from Chicago! Today she had to go straight home to start packing. It’s not fair.”

    “That must be difficult.” Her grandmother’s voice was filled with understanding, and Amalia let out a great sigh.

    For a while there was silence. The sunlight faded in the kitchen, and as the boiled honey cooled into a dark, thick mass, its sweet aroma filled the air.

    “Shall we knead the melcocha, then?” Amalia’s grandmother asked as she lifted the old brass pot onto the kitchen table and poured the sticky melcocha into a bowl. The thick white porcelain bowl, with a few chips that spoke of its long use, had a wide yellow rim. Once, the bowl had made Amalia think that it looked like a small sun on the kitchen table. Today she was too upset to see anything but the heavy bowl.

    They washed their hands thoroughly in the sink and dried them. Her grandmother’s kitchen towels each had a day of the week embroidered in a different color. Since today was Friday, the cross-stitched embroidery spelled viernes in azul marino, deep blue. Abuelita had taught Amalia the days of the week and the names of the colors in Spanish using these towels. Although her grandmother never seemed to be teaching, Amalia was frequently surprised when she realized how many things she had learned from Abuelita.

    After drying their hands, they slathered them with soft butter, which prevented the taffy from sticking to their fingers or burning their skin. Then, with a large wooden spoon, Abuelita scooped some taffy from the bowl and poured it onto their hands.

    As they pulled and kneaded, the taffy became softer and lighter. They placed little rolls of amber-colored taffy on pieces of waxed paper. Amalia had helped her grandmother pull the melcocha many times, but she never ceased to marvel at how the sweet taffy changed color just from being pulled, kneaded, and pulled again. It transformed from a deep dark brown into a light blond color, just like Martha’s hair. Thinking about Martha made Amalia frown.

    Her grandmother might have seen her expression but made no comment about it. Rather, she said, “Wash your hands well, Amalita. Let’s sit for a moment while the taffy cools down.”

    Before washing her hands, Amalia licked her fingers. Nothing tasted as good as “cleaning up” after cooking. The butter and taffy mixed together made a sweet caramel on her fingers, which was every bit as good as the raw cookie dough they “cleaned up” when she and Martha made cookies at Martha’s house.

    Once Amalia had washed and dried her hands, she followed her grandmother to the living room. They both sat on the floral sofa, which brightened the room as if a piece of the garden had been brought inside the house. Abuelita’s fondness for the colors of nature could be seen in each room of her house.

    “I know how hard it is when someone you love goes away. One moment you are angry, then you become sad, and then it seems so unbelievable you almost erase it. Then, when you realize it is true, the anger and the sadness come back all over again, sometimes even more painfully than before. I have gone through that many times.”

    Amalia listened closely, trying to guess who her grandmother was talking about. Was she thinking of her two sons who lived far away or her daughter who always promised to visit from Mexico City but never did? Or was she referring to her husband, Amalia’s grandfather, who had died when Amalia was so young that she could not remember him?

    “But one finds ways, Amalia, to keep them close,” her grandmother added. And then, smiling as if having just gotten a new idea, she said, “Ven. Come with me.” She then got up and motioned Amalia to follow her to the dining room.

    Amalia just wanted to end the conversation. It was bad enough that Martha had told her that she had a surprise and it had turned out to be that Martha was moving to California very soon. Martha’s leaving sounded so definite and permanent that she hated even the thought of it. Talking about it only made Amalia feel worse. She wished she did not need to wait for her father to pick her up and could just walk home. Maybe then she could call Martha and hear her say that it all had been a great mistake and they were not moving after all. And it would all disappear like bad dreams do in the morning.

  • What People are Saying About This

    From the Publisher
    “Ada and Zubizarreta (Dancing Home, 2011) reunite to focus on a young Latina girl coping with loss…. The authors tackle issues of love, loss and familial ties with a sympathetic, light hand and blend Spanish words and Latino music and recipes into Amalia’s tale. A charming story, especially for children facing the loss of grandparents.”

    Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2012

    “With sensitively drawn characters and a low-key story moving between present and past, the authors construct a portrait of a multigenerational immigrant family. The Latino culture of the family is reflected in the cooking the two do together, the memories Abuelita passes on, and all the letters she has kept from distant loved ones.”

    Horn Book Magazine, July/August 2012

    “Ada and Zubizaretta’s (Dancing Home)…collaboration focuses on the deep bond between Mexican-American sixth-grader Amalia and her grandmother…. The authors successfully depict family love and closeness across generations and distances…. In the final chapters…the book…takes on an authentic emotional poignancy, bringing a closing richness to this story of a girl’s first experience of loss.”

    Publishers Weekly, May 28, 2012

    “Amalia is upset when her best friend announces that she is moving from Chicago to California. When Martha leaves, Amalia turns to her grandmother for comfort. It is in her kitchen and at her table that the child learns not only about her family and her Mexican heritage, but also about herself…. This story utilizes a special intergenerational relationship to introduce Mexican culture and traditions within the themes of changing family and friendships. Spanish words and phrases are woven into the text…this quiet story may provide a different perspective on the loss of a loved one.”

    School Library Journal, August 2012

    “Latina sixth-grader Amalia is so upset by her best friend Martha’s move from their Chicago neighborhood to California that she can’t even say good-bye. When her beloved abuelita passes away suddenly a few days later, she doesn’t even have the chance to say good-bye….Sprinkled with Spanish words and phrases, this quiet story charmingly emphasizes the importance of both friendship and intergenerational relationships. It concludes with simple recipes for making some of Abuelita’s favorite desserts.”

    Booklist August 1, 2012

    Meet the Author

    Alma Flor Ada is an authority on multicultural and bilingual education. She is the author of numerous award-winning books for young readers, including Dancing Home, My Name Is Maria Isabel; Under the Royal Palms, a Pura Belpré Medal recipient; and The Gold Coin, a Christopher Award recipient. She lives in California, and you can visit her at AlmaFlorAda.com.

    Gabriel M. Zubizarreta draws from his experiences of raising his three wonderful daughters in his writing. He hopes his books will encourage young people to author their own destinies. He coauthored Dancing Home with Alma Flor Ada. Gabriel lives in Northern California with his family and invites you to visit his website at GabrielMZubizarreta.com.

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