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A Gift of Gracias: The Legend of Altagraciaby Beatriz Vidal
Synopses & Reviews
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?
"Vidal's (Federico and the Magi's Gift) finely detailed gouache paintings provide exquisite accompaniment to Alvarez's (The Secret Footprints) retelling, a Dominican legend of a miracle performed by Nuestra Señ ora de la Altagracia, Our Lady of Thanks. The prose plants just enough magic to prepare readers for Marí a's night visions and their magical results. When Papá returns from the city, he brings Marí a oranges; as she tries one, she observes, 'It tasted like a sweet sunrise.' As they eat, Marí a's father prepares her for the dismal prospect of moving to the city, since their farm is failing, but her father's friend, Quisqueya, whispers, 'We will find a way to stay.' Marí a dreams that night: Quisqueya appears as her guide, urging her to 'Say gracias,' as she plants orange seeds in the ground. She does, and the seeds bloom into full-grown orange trees, and 'a beautiful lady with golden skin and a crown of stars' appears. When Marí a tells her family what she dreamed, they immediately plant orange seeds. Miracles follow — 'in a matter of months, trees that would normally take years to grow yielded a large crop,' and Quisqueya magically acquires a portrait of Our Lady of Altagracia. Vidal smoothly moves from the lushness of the orange grove and rolling hills to the dream sequences. Together, author and artist make dreams-come-true seem possible, as long as one remains grateful. Age 58." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Children of all backgrounds will be drawn in by the universal themes of home and family....Vidal has painted colorful, yet warm illustrations that add depth to the story." School Library Journal
"Alvarez creates a lovely tale based on legends from her childhood in the Dominican Republic....Vidal's detailed, lovingly rendered pictures glow like the oranges and the stars she so beautifully depicts." Kirkus Reviews
After Maria's family's olive crop fails, a mysterious woman appears in her dreams and suggests the family grow oranges instead. That very day the family plants seeds that yield a magnificent orange grove and saves the farm. Who was the mysterious woman? Illustrations.
About the Author
Alvarez is a poet and fiction writer. She teaches creative writing and literature at Middlebury College.
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