Tortilla Sun
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Tortilla Sun

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  195 ratings  ·  57 reviews
When twelve-year-old Izzy discovers a beat-up baseball marked with the words "Becausemagic" while unpacking in yet another new apartment, she is determined to figure out what it means. What secrets does this old ball have to tell? Her mom certainly isn't sharing anyespecially when it comes to Izzy's father, who died before Izzy was born. But when she spends the summer in h...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published May 5th 2010 by Chronicle Books
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Jun 16, 2010 Claire rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: 10 and up, read aloud, families, classrooms
Recommended to Claire by: Chronicle
Izzy is preparing to settle into a new apartment for the summer. She is going through a box one morning and sees a baseball that must have belonged to her father. Her mom just cannot face her husband's death (even after 12 years) and hides the ball.
Now, really curious, Izzy finds and stashes the ball so her mom won't see it.
Unexpectedly a grant comes through for Mom to study in Costa Rica and Izzy must go visit her Nana in New Mexico. Izzy really does not want to do this but is given no choice...more
Elizabeth Varadan


What would you do if you were confronted with a mystery about your father, and your mother won’t talk about it? Izzy’s mother has always been restless. After many moves in California, they have just moved again. While unpacking, Izzy comes across her father’s old baseball with the mysterious words, "Because… Love," written on one side. The words between have been rubbed out. Her mother has never told Izzy anything about her father, except that he died before Izzy was born.

Izzy likes to wr...more
Cindy Hudson
Izzy and her mother have moved more times than she wants to remember. She’s just getting settled again when her mom announces she’s received a research grant to study in Costa Rica and Izzy will be spending the summer with her nana in New Mexico.

Izzy doesn’t know her grandmother very well, and she’s not at all happy about being dumped for a couple of months while her mom is gone. But once she arrives at the small adobe village near Albuquerque, magic starts to happen. As Izzy begins to discover...more
Sandra Stiles
Izzy has just gotten settled into yet another new home. While unpacking she comes across a baseball that had belonged to her father. It has the words because...magic on it. When she asks her mom about it her mom takes it away and puts it up. Izzy gets the ball back out and then learns the next morning that her mother has received a grant to finish up her studies in Costa Rica. She is sending Izzy to New Mexico to stay with her nana. She is not thrilled about this. However when she arrives she fe...more
Cathe Olson
This was a sweet book about a twelve-year-old girl Izzy who spends the summer with her grandmother in New Mexico while her mother finishes her studies. While she is there, she becomes immersed in the Mexican culture that her mother had surpressed out of grief after the death of her husband. Izzy searches for answers about her father's death and she may find them if she can find the voice in the wind.

I'm always looking for books with Latino culture and was very happy to have found this one. There...more
A beautifully written story I simply loved! While reading, I kept highlighting favorite quotes. As 12year old Izzy discovered the secret about her past amd the magic of her grandmother's village in New Mexico while spending the summer there, the magic of the story captured me, taking me on an emotional ride that brought tears of sorrow and joy to my eyes. A heartwarming story around family and friendship and about finding the courage to deal with the past, to heal and allow the joy back into one...more
2.5, actually. I was totally on board until the visit to Socorro and the gobbledygook about seeing the truth. Then there was just too much schmoopiness and annoying fatalism.

I did like the idea of Izzy's story cards ... could have students write their own beginnings and then have others continue them? Could also develop a lesson on famous first lines, the power of a hook ... relate to music as well. Although I am now so decrepit, the kids probably won't recognize any of the songs that would firs...more
This was a wonderful story of a girl without a sense of place or even of family. Her father died before her birth, and her mother, after moving to CA from NM, has never settled in one place long enough for Izzy to put down roots. When a grant for her mother to complete her research comes through at the last moment, Izzy is sent to NM to spend the summer with her grandmother, who she hasn't seen in 6 or 7 years. What she discovers about her family and herself makes for a magical story.
Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
If you read this book, have a box of tissues ready. I plan on posting a longer review but want to think about this a little more. I will say that I loved having a story featured around Latino characters and celebrating the Latino heritage and culture. I would like to use this as a read aloud with my fifth graders this year. Very powerful message.

See my full review on:
Erin Sterling
A sweet, coming-of-age story about a girl who has to go live with her grandmother in New Mexico while her mother does graduate work in Costa Rica and learns the magic of a small, tight-knit community and uncovers some details about her past and how her father died. The story flowed well and the characters were warm and loving. My only complaint is that the village life seemed a little *too* idyllic, even the tragic bits.
This should be the next Newbery winner!

My journey through the story touched something bigger in my soul. I love Young Adult books and read at least one a week. But, I haven't read one like Tortilla Sun that touched me so deeply since Return to Sender by Alvarez or Star Girl by Spinelli. my full review will be up on Monday June 28, 2010.
I have only 4 words. I LOOOOVVVEEEE THIS BOOK!!!!!! I didn't quite like it ( I guess ) in the beguinning ,but then I just loved it for the next week that I read it. This is a book anyone could enjoy!!! It is amazingly great!!
Edward Sullivan
An impressive debut--a beautifully written, gentle family story though the plot does seem a bit derivative of other stories of this kind.
Great debut novel - enchanting and magical. But beware, it will make you hungry!
For every one of us that longs to believe in magic.
What a beautiful book.
Kristina Miranda
The only thing twelve-year old Izzy knows about her father is that he died before she was born. Moving from place to place with her mother in San Diego, Izzy yearns to finally settle down. While unpacking yet another box, Izzy finds an old baseball with some hand-written words on it, and suspects it belonged to her father. Her mother refuses to talk about it, and sends Izzy to spend the summer in a small pueblo in New Mexico with her grandmother. Izzy secretly brings the baseball with her, deter...more
This is one of those books that recognizes that children have real experiences and hard things in their life, without becoming a Problem Book.

Izzy's dad died before she was born, and her mom loves her very much, but moves her around a lot. This summer, her mom is heading out to do research and Izzy is stuck visiting her grandmother for the summer. The horror!

The story continues along, unfolding prettily. There is magic in the world, and especially in the little village. Izzy wins races, learns t...more
Libby Ames
Izzy Roybal is used to her life of constantly moving from place to place with just her mother. She wonders about her father who died before she was born, but knows her mother refuses to discuss the topic. However, Izzy’s life begins to change when she spends the summer with her Nanna in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In the town where her mother was born and her father and mother met, Izzy catches glimpses of their past and the mystery surrounding her father’s death. Talking to long time residents of...more
Mar 23, 2011 Carol rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
Twelve year old Izzy lives in San Diego but mother is going to Costa Rica to finish her research. Izzy has to go to New Mexico to live with her grandmother. She has always wanted to know about her father who died before she was born. She doesn’t make friends easily because they are always moving.

Izzy learns about folk medicine, songs, how to make tortillas and a lot about her heritage and how to deal with grief.

This book is filled with the smells, sounds and folklore of Hispanic culture. There...more
Supersaturated with Hispanic New Mexican culture. Really enjoyed that with a hint of the magical-realism of some Latin American writers. That having been said, the plot which involved the unveiling of family secrets, was a little overwrought. I didn't totally understand the mom's response to her father's death, for example.

If you're traveling to New Mexico, or are homesick for New Mexico and are looking for a good read for the upper elementary set, this would be a good bet. It was an enjoyable r...more
C.J. Omololu
Beautiful debut with a pitch-perfect middle-grade voice. Great setting and characters with just a hint of magic that makes it even more special. Jen has created a New Mexico village that makes me want to move there and get to know the people who inhabit it even better.

When Izzy is shipped off to her grandmother's village, she starts to put the pieces of her early life together - how did her father die? Is the baseball she found full of magic? Why does she hear words on the wind? Pick this up an...more
The Shutterbug
I read this book for a Children and Young Adult Lit. class. I went to NMSU where Jennifer Cervantes teaches, (She came to our class and I got my book signed!) It's a great coming of age story for a young Latina. Being a Latina who grew up in New Mexico I can relate to Izzy. At first I found some of her actions and her stubbornness a bit annoying but I had to remind myself that she is a twelve year old. Of course she would make mistakes at her age. In the end though she matured and learned to for...more
I pick this up because I wanted to read a book related to my roots. I like the magical journey Izzy had to take to find the truth of her father and finding herself too. I liked that each person in the book had a meaning to be part of the story and with clues for her. At the end all the clues of memories she had, she put them together as a puzzle and made a wonderful discovery, the ending of her story and a beginning to a new one. I happy I found this book and I need to have to try the tortilla r...more
Really beautiful, lyrical writing.
May 29, 2011 Aisha added it
I think that the book was amazing because it talked about a little girl and her life rather than the other books that just have the info about the character that is very boring but this book was actually really good. I recommend this book for others to read but definitely young kids form 8 and above most likely because they will like the book and the way it is kind of like a mystery like you will never know what happens next so I think that it is a very good book. I really enjoyed reading it.
I like this book because it's interesting and taught me two things. One is family is very important even if the person isn't really related to you. Also, you shouldn't always think about yourself because you might hurt yourself or someone else. I enjoyed it so much because I really understood how Izzy felt about not meeting her dad. I didn't experience it yet, but I think her life is great now because she gets to stay with Nana and Maggie, even her mother.
Caitlin Day
This book is so flavorful with descriptions of the lively foods of a Mexican village that this little girl is visiting with her mother. She is determined to find out a secret of a word on a baseball that she finds, but instead she finds so much more than that. This book does a great job of describing the culture in Mexico and makes it come to life. Children will love this book and the pictures that go with it.
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wonderful setting 1 7 Jun 23, 2010 10:03AM  
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"Sometimes you can't see the magic. You just know it's there because you can feel it."

I am the author of the newly released middle grade novel TORTILLA SUN.

"Cervantes's prose is lean and lightly spiced with evocative metaphor." School Library Journal

"An imaginative, yet grounded novel." Publishers Weekly

"A beautiful and engaging debut novel." Kirkus

Tortilla Sun -- When twelve-year-old Izzy discov

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