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MY NAME IS MARIA ISABEL by Alma Flor Ada

MY NAME IS MARIA ISABEL

by Alma Flor Ada, translated by Ana M. Cerro, illustrated by K. Dyble Thompson

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: April 30th, 1993
ISBN: 0-689-31517-1
Publisher: Atheneum

 When Mar°a Isabel Salazar L¢pez's family moves, there are already two Mar°as in her new class, so the teacher decides to call her Mary L¢pez. Since she doesn't readily recognize this new name, Mar°a Isabel is continually scolded for being inattentive; worse, her pride in being named for her grandmothers is dishonored. Mar°a Isabel's reluctance to assert her wish to be called by her full name involves her in an apparent web of deception when she doesn't get a part in a pageant (she doesn't recognize her name when the teacher is assigning roles) but lets her parents believe she'll participate. Fortunately, an essay assignment provides a solution: she finds the courage to write that her ``greatest wish is to be called Mar°a Isabel Salazar L¢pez,'' clearly explaining her reasons; and her teacher responds generously to her plea. Cuban author Ada (The Gold Coin, 1991) captures the authentic flavor of Latino culture in this warm, yet never sentimental, story: an entire family genealogy is encapsulated in a Latino name, as well as special connections between its bearer and the relatives for whom she was named. Presented in realistic terms, Mar°a Isabel's struggles will ring true to many children in the US. Pair this with Barbara Cohen's Molly's Pilgrim (1983) for a fine multicultural comparison. (Fiction. 7-10)