Dalia’s Wondrous Hair / El cabello maravilloso de Dalia
A whimsical, bilingual picture book about an imaginative girl.
by Laura Lacámara
Spanish-language translation by Gabriela Baeza Ventura
Publication Date: May 31, 2014
Imprint: Piñata Books
One night, while Dalia slept safely wrapped in her mother’s cool silken sheets, her hair grew and grew. By the time the rooster crowed, her hair had “grown straight up to the sky, tall and thick as a Cuban royal palm tree.” Her mother was amazed, and wondered what her daughter would do with her wondrous hair.
As Dalia looked at the flowers blooming in the garden, an idea sprouted inside her. She decorated her hair with leaves from the forest and mud from the marsh. Her mother was puzzled and could not imagine what she was. “Are you a leaf-crusted mud-tree?” she guessed incorrectly. That night, while Dalia slept safely cocooned in her mama’s sheets, something stirred and unfolded. When the rooster crowed, the girl ran outside and everyone watched in awe as she carefully unwrapped her towering hair. Could it be? Is Dalia a . . . blossoming butterfly tree?!?
In this whimsical bilingual picture book, Dalia’s hair becomes a magical force of nature, a life-giving cocoon. Author and illustrator Laura Lacámara once again delights children ages 4-9 with her vibrant illustrations and an imaginative story about a girl’s fanciful encounters with nature.
Bonus features include a guide for how to create your own butterfly garden at home, as well as a bilingual glossary of select plant and animal species native to the island of Cuba.
2015 Américas Award Commended Title
Named to the 2015-2016 Tejas Star Reading List
Included in Dallas ISD’s Luminarias 2015-2016 Master List of bilingual/spanish books for grades K-3rd
Named to the Los Angeles Times’ Summer Books Preview 2014-Picture Books
Named to Latinas4LatinoLit.org’s Remarkable Latino Children’s Literature of 2014 List
Finalist, 2015 International Latino Book Award in the Best Children’s Fiction Picture Book – Bilingual
“One magical morning, Dalia awakes to find her hair has grown up toward the sky, ‘tall and thick as a Cuban royal palm tree.’ Throughout the day, to the shock of her neighbors, Dalia covers her wondrous hair with natural material from the environment around her in order to do something truly special, making for an imaginative story. She stuffs and squishes wild tamarind, coontie leaves and mud into her hair, turning it into a butterfly garden overnight. The mixed-media illustrations depict tender interactions between Dalia and the natural world, enhancing the feeling of whimsy. Further enriching the story is the appearance of flora and fauna specific to Cuba. The vibrant illustrations stretch across full pages, the deeply saturated colors and assured lines drawing readers’ eyes across each spread. The placement of the bilingual text is a little sporadic, at times being side-by-side and other times above-and-below, but the presentation of the book overall is excellent. A bilingual author’s note provides further information about the plants and animals referenced and presents instructions for creating one’s own butterfly garden. A delightful account of one fanciful little girl’s enchanted day in Cuba.”—Kirkus Reviews, *Starred Review*
“A rich, warm palette and paintings bursting with vegetation—both drawn from Lacámara’s native Cuba—add to the anything-is-possible atmosphere of this charming bilingual story about a girl who decides to do something special with her towering beehive of hair. Dalia asks her mother to guess what kind of tree she is as she packs her bouffant with leaves from the forest and mud from the swamp. Although Dalia’s ‘do gets a tad icky (“Do you want me to take care of that?” offers a machete-wielding neighbor), the whimsical result is worth it.”—Publishers Weekly
“One day, a young Latina girl’s thick, black, wavy tresses stand straight up into the air. This might sound like a set-up for a bad hair day, but rather than being appalled or upset, Dalia happily makes the most of it. She proceeds to add items in her hair to look more like the natural surroundings, in hopes of resembling a special tree for her mother. The childhood appeal of this little girl interacting with nature will resonate with a broad audience, who will like Dalia. The Spanish translation is good, and it is just as enjoyable to read in English as it is in Spanish. At the end, the author includes a glossary of flora native to Cuba that are mentioned in the story. Additionally, there are some notes on how to create a butterfly garden. Lacámara’s rich and colorful artwork beautifully complement the imaginative text. A fun and enjoyable read-aloud.”—School Library Journal
“The illustrations portray the Cuban countryside in vibrant golds, greens, reds, oranges, and blues and provide a lively heroine whose actions will confound and delight in equal parts.”—Booklist
“…a great cultural learning experience for the child and the adult. It is full of excitement, is enchanting, and the illustrations compliment the story beautifully…This children’s book should definitely be included into school curricula across the country as it would be an asset for any classroom setting.”—TheLatinoAuthor.com
“Filled with real-life natural imagery of the beautiful land of Cuba, Dalia’s Wondrous Hair is a whimsical delight to read aloud and share.”—Midwest Book Review
“The imaginative story kept me guessing and would be fantastic to use with students…The illustrations are vibrant and engaging and I had a smile on my face the whole time I was reading.”—Reading Through Life
LAURA LACÁMARA is a Cuban-American artist and author. She wrote and illustrated Dalia’s Wondrous Hair / El cabello maravilloso de Dalia (Piñata Books, 2013). She is the illustrator of The Runaway Piggy / El cochinito fugitivo (Piñata Books, 2010) and Alicia’s Fruity Drinks / Las aguas frescas de Alicia (Piñata Books, 2012) and the author of Floating on Mama’s Song / Flotando en la canción de mamá (HarperCollins, 2010). She lives in Venice, California, with her family.
Learn more at lauralacamara.com.
GABRIELA BAEZA VENTURA is an associate professor of Spanish at the University of Houston. She has translated numerous children’s books, including Dalia’s Wondrous Hair / El cabello maravilloso de Dalia (Arte Público Press, 2014), There’s a Name for this Feeling: Stories / Hay un nombre para lo que siento: Cuentos (2014), Adelita and the Veggie Cousins / Adelita y las primas verduritas (2011) and Remembering Grandma / Recordando a Abuela (2003).
Learn more by visiting her faculty page.
ATOS Interest Level: Lower Grades
Category: Picture Book
ATOS English: 3.2
ATOS Spanish: 2.8
LEXILE SPANISH: 670L
Accelerated Reader Quiz #: 166957
Activity Guide Here