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Finding Identity in Family History

Alma and How She Got Her Name

Juana Martinez-Neal


Pre-K to 3

If you ask her, Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has way too many names: six! How did such a small person wind up with such a large name? Alma turns to Daddy for an answer and learns of Sofia, the grandmother who loved books and flowers; Esperanza, the great-grandmother who longed to travel; José, the grandfather who was an artist; and other namesakes, too. As she hears the story of her name, Alma starts to think it might be a perfect fit after all — and realizes that she will one day have her own story to tell.

About the Author

Juana Martinez-Neal is the recipient of the 2018 Pura Belpré Medal for Illustration for "La Princesa and the Pea" (written by Susan M. Elya).

Alma and How She Got Her Name is her first picture book as author-illustrator. Martinez-Neal says that the essence of Alma, which has autobiographical elements, is "you are everyone that came before you, and you are uniquely yourself."

Juana is the illustrator of "Babymoon" (written by Hayley Barrett), "Fry Bread" (written by Kevin Mailliard), and "Swashby and the Sea" (written by Beth Ferry). She is also the illustrator of "La Madre Goose" (written by Susan M. Elya).

Juana was named to the International Board on Books for Young People Honor list in 2014, and was awarded the SCBWI Portfolio Showcase Grand Prize in 2012. She was born in Lima, the capital of Peru, and now lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with her husband and three children.

Juana Martinez-Neal

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