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?
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Kindergarten-Grade 3–After the failure of her father's olive crop, María 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, María 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
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Gr. 1-3. The Virgin Mary takes many names around the world, and in the Dominican Republic, the author's birthplace, she is Nuestra Senora de la Altagracia. This magical story, based on a legend of Altagracia, begins as Papa returns home from a trip to the city with an overflowing basket of oranges, like those he used to eat in his native Spain. That night, after Papa warns the family that they may have to abandon their failing olive farm, young Maria dreams of planting orange seeds, and a beautiful lady with a crown of stars, Altagracia, materializes in an orange-laden grove. The next morning, the family plants orange seeds and gives thanks to Our Lady--and sure enough, a bountiful orange crop is born. Argentina-born illustrator Vidal uses small brushes and gouache to create lovely, stylized folk-art-style paintings of the hard-working family and tropical landscapes. The tale unravels rather slowly, but this talented team evokes an enchanted, sun-kissed world where dreams, and gratitude, bear fruit. An author's note tells more about Altagracia. Karin Snelson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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