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UNDER THE ROYAL PALMS by Alma Flor Ada

UNDER THE ROYAL PALMS

A Childhood in Cuba

By Alma Flor Ada

Age Range: 9 - 14

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-689-80631-0
Publisher: Atheneum

Of books comprising nuggets of memory there seems to be no end, and in a companion volume to her Where the Flame Trees Bloom (1994, not reviewed), Ada recounts small stories of growing up in the town of in CamagÅey, Cuba. She captures with some feeling the powerful effect of scent on memory: night jasmine, coffee, ylang-ylang, and her grandmother’s perfume of lavender and sage. She immortalizes sibling hurts and uncles’ gifts, and writes of the childhood mystery of adult conversations partially overheard and partially understood. She is rich in family, attempting with her grandmother the impossible task of counting bats as they fly, and smashing her favorite doll when her dashing uncle dies in a plane crash. She is rich in memories of other adults, too: Madame Marie, a French-Jewish refugee; Gilda, a dance teacher, whose affection carried Ada through an impossible year at school. Some repetition does not detract, and children might be moved by Ada’s exhortation to consider their own family stories. (b&w photographs) (Memoir. 9-14)