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Under the Royal Palms: A Childhood in Cuba
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Under the Royal Palms: A Childhood in Cuba

3.27  ·  Rating Details ·  82 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
In this companion volume to Alma Flor Ada's Where the Flame Trees Bloom, the author offers young readers another inspiring collection of stories and reminiscences drawn from her childhood on the island of Cuba. Through those stories we see how the many events and relationships she enjoyed helped shape who she is today.
We learn of a deep friendship with a beloved dance te
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published November 1st 1998 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
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Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I enjoyed this memoir of Alma Flor Ada's childhood in Cuba very much. This book is the sequel to Where the Flame Trees Bloom, which I haven't read but which I certainly will now. Her descriptions of Cuba in the late 1930's and early 1940's are idyllic and filled with family warmth. I like the idea of a house build around a central courtyard, though it would be impractical here in the northern U.S. with all the snow we get. I would love to see flame trees and all the flowers and fruits she descri ...more
Jul 02, 2011 Charlynn rated it really liked it
There are ubiquitous childhood experiences – playing in the mud, using one's imagination to 'explore', struggling in school – that all children can relate to. Ada uses these unifying topics to tell tales of growing up in Cuba, yet, at the same time, it is her different perspective, because of the setting of her memories and her personal feelings, which lend this book its appeal. Though many facts are provided, Ada personalizes them to add interest and relevance. Pictures of Ada and her family, ...more
Feb 01, 2009 Rian rated it it was amazing
Summary: This is the first volume of Alma Flor Ada's biography.

Response: I completely enjoyed this biography - Alma Flor Ada is a beautiful storyteller! It is so perfect by itself, that I really can't think of anything to add, other than to recommend it!
This book would be a wonderful read-aloud to intermediate level classes, either for a biography unit, an author study, or just to vary the typical read aloud choice of fiction by reading a biography. It make me want to read more of her books,
Apr 08, 2013 Tanja rated it really liked it
Children's book author and illustrator Alma Flor Ada shares memoirs of her childhood in Cuba. The text is accompanied by black and white photographs of herself and family members. A quick read, very enjoyable and at the same time admirable since it must have been a painful journey for the author in reliving parts of her childhood that were marked by tragic events. I found it so easy to disappear in the story and travel back in time and place to experience what life was like for young Alma.
Dec 15, 2011 Daniel rated it really liked it
I can't remember the last time I read a juvenile biography (probably when I was a juvenile myself), but this was a delightful read. The author's keen reminiscenses bring her childhood in a small town in Cuba to life, reaffirming my desire to visit one day. (Laws, shmaws.) Now I just have to figure out how to plug a biography to a child who isn't writing a report on someone...
Oct 25, 2011 Whitney rated it liked it
This book is not especially exciting or thought provoking, but it is a good read. The short stories do not scream Cuba but rather they quietly describe one woman's upbringing in her small town. I think this book would be excellent with a program/lesson about story telling and writing about one's own experiences because each story flows so smoothly.
Diana Pettis
I am going to be rereading this with a group of 4th graders in one of my Title I groups.
Paige Scott
Oct 22, 2016 Paige Scott rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-summaries
1) I love this book to use in a classroom, mainly because it shows the struggles and joys that the author goes through in her childhood, just as some of the students will have probably gone through. Books are such a great way to relate to people sometimes, and sometimes all it takes is someone hearing that someone else went through the same thing they did or are at the time and relating to that. I think it's also a great way to teach the history of Cuba from all the events and places the author ...more
Cliff Bathke
Nov 30, 2016 Cliff Bathke rated it liked it
Shelves: book-summaries
1. this a book of stories about the authors life in Cuba. these are tails that show how Alma Flor Ada was changed and inspired to become the writer she is today. Her relationship she has with her dance teacher is inspiring with out her help school would have been a lot worse that year. Her uncle has been secretly helping heal lepers. To the loss of her other uncle in a airplane crash.
2. grades 3-4
3. I would bring this book out when talking about what inspires kids or the history behind Cuba.
4. I
Emma Hoyer
Stories like this are some of my favorite ways to see history preserved. There are unique perspectives from all over the world that need to be written down in much the same fashion as Alma Flor Ada decided to do with this book. There are elements of beautiful language, and the stories she has are told in such a way that the reader is not bored. There are elements of surprise, intrigue, and in general, this book tells just the right amount of information that one could hope for in reading a book ...more
Tony Ruiz
Apr 23, 2010 Tony Ruiz rated it liked it
Under the Royal Palms: A Childhood in Cuba – Alma Flor Ada
Grade: 5-8
Pages: 96
Theme: Cultural
Genre: Biography, Diversity
Response: I was recommended this book from a friend, who was born in Cuba, and moved here to the United States when he was around 4 or 5 years old. He remembers living in poverty, but at the time, it didn’t seem like poverty. The photographs give a glimpse into the country and life of Alma, through her experiences, both good and bad. I thought it was great for intermediate stude
Jun 09, 2013 Madeline rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2013
In this autobiography bilingual children’s author Alma Flor Ada captures snapshots of her childhood and relays them from her perspective. Ada tells of great adventures like her uncle purchasing a plane and crash landing to his death, her family hosting a Jewish woman who fled during the Second World War, and an aunt and uncle who together worked to aid lepers in the community. Ultimately Alma ties the experiences of her youth to who she is today and how that has helped her understand the world ...more
Reading this book was such a treat. Alma Flor Ada shares a mix of happy and sad moments from her childhood. She also shares ordinary days that are filled with love and playfulness. It made me think back to some of my own childhood moments. These stories give us a taste of what life was like for her growing up in Cuba.i especially loved the story about counting bats with her grandmother as the bats flew in and out at night. She explained that it would become impossible, but that was part of the ...more
Ten essays of reminiscences from the author's childhood in Camaguey, Cuba, are intended to inspire young readers to see there are interesting stories in their own lives. She recalls the fatal crash of her pilot uncle, the fun she had with her extended family in their big Quinta Simoni home, her beloved ballet teacher who died of cancer, her stern Uncle Manolo and his work with lepers, and sights and sounds such as the water pots of tinajones, the predatory marabu plant, and chatter of gossiping ...more
Feb 05, 2010 Ch_beverlyatwood rated it liked it
Shelves: mc-literature
This book received the 2000 Pura Belpre Award. It was originally published in 1998. The publisher is Atheneum Books for Young Readers. The reading level is for children ages 8-12. Its format is that of a chapter book. This book tells of the author's early account of her growing up in Cuba. It describes her family, their traditions, joys and tragedies. Relationships are nurtured with others outside of her family and children can relate to them with their own relationships with family and friends.
Alina Vanryzin
Jun 15, 2011 Alina Vanryzin rated it liked it
Shelves: 10th-grade
After returning from Cuba I began developing a growing interest for life in Cuba before and during Castro's rule. This book a non-fiction memoir of life during the aftermath of the Cuban revolution. I knew what my Cuban grandparents had told me about the revolution but this book gave me another perspective on what life was like in the seemingly perfect society of communist Cuba.
Jun 25, 2012 Marie rated it really liked it
Under the Royal Palms is a collection of stories about the author’s childhood in Cuba. Among the chapters, readers will learn about Alma’s unique and mysterious family, her friendship with a dance teacher that helped her get through a rough year at school, and secretive life of the French family who helps in Alma’s family’s shop.
Feb 01, 2009 Lynne rated it it was ok
Alma Flor Ada shares stories of her childhood growing up in Camaguey, Cuba in this companion memoir to Where the Flame Trees Bloom. Black and white photographs accompany the text which offers a glimpse into Ada’s life.
Megan Knippenberg
Dec 01, 2012 Megan Knippenberg rated it liked it
Read this for my Children's Lit class. Learned some new Spanish words and a bit about what life was like in Cuba in the 1940's.
Paulette Elsner
Paulette Elsner rated it it was ok
Jun 10, 2014
Sheila rated it liked it
Jun 03, 2012
Nov 30, 2016 Heid added it
Friendship, Healing and Pain
Sharon Toler
Sharon Toler rated it liked it
Apr 05, 2012
Aug 23, 2011 Heather marked it as to-read
2000 Pura Belpré Medal Winner (for narrative)
Debbie rated it liked it
Jan 27, 2009
Melanie rated it liked it
Dec 12, 2011
Robin rated it it was amazing
Feb 09, 2013
Brinton rated it really liked it
Apr 11, 2015
Heather rated it liked it
Feb 24, 2015
Jessica rated it liked it
Jul 12, 2015
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Dr. Ada was the founder and First Editor in Chief of :
NABE, Journal of the National Association for Bilingual Education

She has been active for many years in various professional associations including : IRA, International Reading Association
CRA, California Reading Association
CABE, California Association for Bilingual Education
USIBBY, US Branch of the International
More about Alma Flor Ada...

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