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by Diana Cohn illustrated by Amy Córdova

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: June 11th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-88010-731-0
Publisher: Steiner Books

Isabella, an aspiring writer and daughter of rose-farm workers in Ecuador, relates the story of her family’s livelihood.

Isabella is very excited because her school will be commemorating “Pachamama” (Mother Earth) with a special assembly that will include original stories and poems. The students begin their assignment, and the teacher is impressed with Isabella’s introduction about Ecuador’s continual sunshine, which helps the flowers grow so well. Isabella then recounts a time when her parents worked in a rose farm that used insecticides that caused illness and strong headaches, especially for her mother. Healthier and happier days occurred when her parents began work in a new rose farm that practices fair trade and grows roses organically. Isabella’s writing continues with basic section headings to explain the concept of fair trade, how the roses are sold around the world and why celebrating Ecuador’s Pachamama is important. Her composition parallels her overall narration that's distinguished by a standard typeface opposite the child-oriented look of her written story. Colorful folk-art–style drawings in marker and gouache add an authenticity to this South American tale. Unfortunately, the important message about environmental concerns and equitable working conditions dominates, leaving little story for children to latch onto.

A concluding free-verse poem celebrating the benefits of fair trade and environmental consciousness will resonate more with readers than the mostly instructive text. (afterword) (Picture book. 6-9)