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Tortilla Sun

3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  316 Ratings  ·  81 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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Apanakhi Buckley Absolutely! Here's what one of my college students said about the book, "Finding out where you come from will make you understand who you are and…moreAbsolutely! Here's what one of my college students said about the book, "Finding out where you come from will make you understand who you are and where you belong. Just like Izzy [in Tortilla Sun] when she knew all about her father, every puzzle piece came together and learning about her heritage made her feel she belonged." I strongly recommend it to young adult and middle level readers.(less)

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May 17, 2016 Josiah rated it liked it
I love when a new storytelling talent creates such a beautiful first novel that we're left wondering how they could have possibly been the one behind it. As soon as I spotted Tortilla Sun on bookstore shelves in 2010, I instinctively identified it as a contender for the Newbery awards. The book's aura was magical, and the description on the book jacket promised a powerful story if the author executed it well. Jennifer Cervantes's ability to come through in that regard was unknown, but if she co ...more
Judi Paradis
Jan 18, 2015 Judi Paradis rated it liked it
Izzy's mom is distant and they move a lot. Her dad died before she was born. So, when her mother gets a chance to study in Costa Rica for the summer and sends Izzy to live with her grandmother in New Mexico, she finally gets a chance to find out about her mother's past, and it sheds a great deal of light on who she is and how she lives. Her grandmother is warm and open, and Izzy quickly falls into life in their small Latino community. Mysteries, paranormal events, and an attractive slightly-olde ...more
Elizabeth Varadan
Jan 15, 2012 Elizabeth Varadan rated it it was amazing


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
Cindy Hudson
Jul 23, 2010 Cindy Hudson rated it it was amazing
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
Sandra Stiles
Oct 31, 2010 Sandra Stiles rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 16, 2010 Claire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Cathe Olson
Aug 02, 2010 Cathe Olson rated it really liked it
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
Jul 07, 2012 Tanja rated it it was amazing
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
Edward Sullivan
Dec 18, 2010 Edward Sullivan rated it liked it
An impressive debut--a beautifully written, gentle family story though the plot does seem a bit derivative of other stories of this kind.
Sep 25, 2010 Julianne rated it really liked it
Great debut novel - enchanting and magical. But beware, it will make you hungry!
Sep 15, 2012 Meredith rated it it was ok
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
Twelve-year-old Izzy and her mother have moved from one San Diego neighborhood to another several times during her short life. Consequently, Izzy feels rather rootless and disconnected from the rest of her family. She happens upon a baseball with a couple of words on it, and wonders what the words, probably written by her father, mean. When her mother must spend the summer in Costa Rica for her studies, she sends Izzy to stay with her maternal grandmother in New Mexico. Izzy is resentful and con ...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.
Anne Hennessey
Dec 22, 2015 Anne Hennessey rated it it was amazing
Izzy is a 12 year old girl who lives with her mother, a widow who is careful to reveal much information about Izzy’s father. One summer as Izzy’s mother decides to continue her schooling in Costa Rica, which means Izzy will spend the summer with her grandmother in New Mexico. Before she leaves, Izzy discovers her father’s old baseball with a mysterious message written on it and makes it her mission to figure out what it means. Izzy meets her nana’s friends and learns to make tortillas, she also ...more
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.
Jun 26, 2010 Melissa rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 08, 2011 Olivia rated it it was amazing
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!!
Jun 26, 2010 Betsy rated it really liked it
One Sentence Review: I might not be the biggest fan of some of the more touchy feely emotional moments in the book, but the writing of Ms. Cervantes rang true for me in this interesting new novel.
Sep 28, 2014 Jacqueline rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written and emotionally engaging story of a young girl discovering her family history and heritage. The Hispanic community in an adobe village in New Mexico is vividly portrayed with delightful characters. Some of my favorite quotes from this book:

p. 214 "Sometimes we long for what the world tells us is missing, and miss what is right in front of us."

p. 138 " You must be very patient to tell stories. And you must sit with the idea, allowing it to simmer like soup on the stove. You wo
Linnea Hendrickson
Jun 09, 2011 Linnea Hendrickson rated it really liked it
This is a beautifully written, charming story with an authentic New Mexican setting.
Kimberly Hill
May 09, 2015 Kimberly Hill rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Awaiting for Jennifer's next book.
Sep 25, 2010 Freya rated it it was amazing
For every one of us that longs to believe in magic.
Nov 04, 2010 marie rated it really liked it
What a beautiful book.
Nov 26, 2010 Melissa rated it really liked it
Very sweet.
Teresa Garrett
Izzy, from Los Angeles, is being sent to spend the summer with her grandmother in a small New Mexico village while her mother is in Costa Rica completing research for her PhD. Izzy takes her father's baseball with her hoping to find the answers to his death while visiting his home town. Izzy has had limited contact with her grandmother up until now and finds it awkward to have to stay with her. Her grandmother is thrilled beyond words for the chance to get to know her only granddaughter. Right a ...more
Teresa Scherping
Izzy and her mom live in California, but they've moved around so much that Izzy's never had anywhere to really call "home" before. But now that her mom has a work assignment far away, Izzy is spending the summer with her Latina grandma in her mom's tiny hometown in New Mexico. Izzy hopes to find out more about her dad, who died before she was born. She also wants to know why an old baseball of his has the words "because magic" written on it. Izzy discovers right away that this New Mexico town is ...more
Kristina Miranda
Mar 14, 2013 Kristina Miranda rated it really liked it
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
Oct 24, 2012 heidi rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook, reviewed, mid-grade
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
Jun 27, 2014 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Tortilla Sun by Jennifer Cervantes is a delightful book that is full of beautiful imagery. Very good for a debut novel. The first few chapters were a little slow, but once the action picked up, it never slowed down. I recommend it for anyone who likes Mexican food (especially tortillas), magic, or a spellbinding story.
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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

More about Jennifer Cervantes...

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“I felt as though melted chocolate had oozed its way from my heart to my toes, coating me with comfort on its way down.” 0 likes
“You must be very patient to tell stories. And you must sit with the idea, allowing it to simmer like soup on the stove. You wouldn't go to all the trouble of cutting up the ingredients, throwing them in the pot and expecting it to cook without fire, right?” 0 likes
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