About the Book
Long, long, long ago, Bella and her grandmother Mamá Alma admired their vegetable garden. They liked gardening together. They grew sunflowers and lilies too, and chatted with lizards and hummingbirds. They walked around the flowers and vegetables holding hands, something they had done frequently since Bella was a baby. As her grandmother aged, Bella helped her to walk. “Every year, I need your help more and more,” said Mamá Alma.
Sitting on their favorite rock, they remembered how Mamá Alma carried Bella to show her the sun and everything that grew in its powerful rays: trees, cacti, corn and flowers. The oldest and wisest woman in the village, she taught her granddaughter to sing, tell stories and weave. Mamá Alma is pleased that Bella has become the best healer in the village, the one everyone comes to for help with a sick bird or a stomach ache. Mamá Alma tells her granddaughter to remember their happy times together and to plan an annual “remembering day,” a special time to think about her when she is gone.
In this special bilingual picture book for children, acclaimed author Pat Mora creates an origin myth in which she imagines how the Mexican custom of remembering deceased loved ones—El día de los muertos or the Day of the Dead—came to be. With tender illustrations by Robert Casilla that depict Bella and Mamá Alma’s loving relationship, this book will encourage children to honor loved ones, whether by writing stories and poems or creating their own remembering place.
Named to the 2016-17 Tejas Star Reading List; 2015 Skipping Stones Honor Award
“Mora worries that the Mexican tradition of honoring their dead on the Día de los Muertos may be misunderstood and become commercialized, so, the author offers this imagined story of how a “remembering day” to honor loved ones now dead might have started in the distant past. The realistic style and warm colors of the illustrations bring to life the loving relationship between Bella and her grandmother. A warm family story.”
“In a tender story, Mora imagines the origins of el Dia de los Muertos in a village in ‘the land now called Mexico.’ An aging grandmother and her granddaughter work in a garden, reminiscing about their time together. Explaining how ‘our bodies do not live forever,’ Mama Alma urges Bella to plan a ‘remembering day’ each autumn, to honor her and other loved ones. Casilla sets the story against a lush landscape of green hills and thatched huts; his softly glowing portraits of grandmother and grandchild speak to the holiday’s quieter and more contemplative aspects. Ages 5-8.”
“There is no shortage of books about el Dia de los Muertos, but Mora brings the concept to a deeply personal level in this bilingual story that imagines the holiday’s origins. Casilla’s gentle, earth-toned paintings bring Bella’s world to life with remarkable realism.”
ROBERT CASILLA was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, to parents from Puerto Rico. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He works from his home studio in New Fairfield, Connecticut, where he lives with his wife and two children. Robert has illustrated many multicultural children’s books, such as First Day in Grapes (Pura Belpré Honor Award), The Little Painter of Sabana Grande, Jalapeño Bagels, The Legend of Mexicatl and The Lunch Thief. He has also illustrated a number of biographies, including ones about Dolores Huerta, Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens and Simón Bolívar. For more information, visit www.robertcasilla.com.
AR Quiz #177323
ATOS English: 4.0
ATOS IL: LG