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Alma and How She Got Her Name

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  4,332 ratings  ·  1,020 reviews
What's in a name? For one little girl, her very long name tells the vibrant story of where she came from — and who she may one day be.

If you ask her, Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has way too many names: six! How did such a small person wind up with such a large name? Alma turns to Daddy for an answer and learns of Sofia, the grandmother who loved books and flower
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published April 10th 2018 by Candlewick Press
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Average rating 4.41  · 
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 ·  4,332 ratings  ·  1,020 reviews

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Alma was given the name Alma Sofia Esperanza Jose Pura Candela. She felt it was long and told her dad so one day. Her dad then told her the reason he gave her each piece of that name. There was a characteristic of a grandparent or aunt that he admired and named her that for a reason. Grandma Sofia loved books and flowers and so on. I love that last name best. He gave her the name Alma as it was all hers. No one had used that before. After the story, Alma loved her long name.

I had fun with this b
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
It all starts with a name, Alma's long name. And then a conversation with her father, tracing each part of her name that belonged to someone in her family tree. Each name that connects her to the past and to her family and to her current and future self.

I love the structure of the book, the way sweet Alma peeks into and enters the past on every other spread, the colors—blue for history and pink for present—and all the facial expressions of the characters.

My favorite page is "I am Candela!" wit
Jillian Heise
I am in 💖 with this picture book! Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela is adorable, even if her name is a mouthful. The story is so sweet as her father teaches her about the ancestors who she is named after, and why he chose those names for her. A story about identity, pride, and family, all combined with the stunning illustrations of Martinez-Neal is a must-share in the classroom. Bonus: Spanish version will be released simultaneously with the English version.
Alma Dinsmore
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Every year for my birthday, my husband has gotten me something with my name on it. He's done it since we first started dating when he got me chocolate from the Alma Chocolate Company. This year he bought me this book. It is such a sweet book. Especially for someone who never thought their name "fit" while growing up. While my name isn't nearly the mouthful that Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela's is, it still has it's own story and I'm proud of it. ...more
So yes indeed, I do well realise that author/illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal won a 2019 Caldecott Honour designation for Alma and How She Got Her Name (and that most reviews seem to be very much glowingly positive). However, while I have certainly enjoyed (and also learned much from) reading about Alma's family history and why she has five "second" names, part of me has definitely wanted considerably more of an actual story and less of a message-heavy lesson (or to at least have the latter a bit ...more
Baby Bookworm
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: our-reviews

This review was originally written for The Baby Bookworm. Visit us for new picture books reviews daily!

Hello, friends! Our book today is Alma And How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal, a wonderful tale of a little girl with a very big – and very special – name.

Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has a very long name, so long that it often doesn’t fit when she tries to write it out. She tells her father, who sits her down and promises to explain what her name means, then she can decide i
Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had to flip through this book a few times and could do it many more times and still get enjoyment. The art has so many interesting layers and details, I kept wanting to look back at it and study it. Martinez-Neal has a very interesting sketchbook-like style. I love the way she sparingly incorporates color and also the way she creates the old photos of people from the MC Alma's family. There is a scrapbook/photo album feel to the way she incorporates these elements.
In addition to the illustrati
Kate Olson
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
@candlewickpress #partner This is the sweet story of how Alma Sofia Esperanza Jose Pura Candela got her name, told to her by her father, and it is absolutely fabulous. It will be available in both English and Spanish editions, although the English version does also include some Spanish words on signs in the book. The author's note about her own LONG name and how she despaired over it while growing up in Lima, Peru before growing to love it later on in the US is a wonderful addition to the story. ...more
Laura Harrison
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
Warm, endearing artwork. Important story about family names and heritage.
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
I LOVE this book! Alma and How She Got Her Name written and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal shares the story of sweet, little Alma. The story begins with her spelling out Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela and complaining to her father about the many parts of her name. Her dad sits her down and shares the story of each part of her name and offers her the opportunity to understand the history of her name.

Juana Martinez-Neal uses pinks, grays, blacks and blues to delicately illustrate this
Mar 20, 2018 added it
Shelves: 2018, picture-books
Love the art, love the story. Definitely going on the shortlist of books for baby showers and birthdays.
The Library Lady
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: picture-books
I know, I know! Strong women! Hispanic heritage! Love it, love it, love it!

Only as a parent I recoil in horror at kids being given long, elaborate names that won't fit in the boxes on a form, names that they will have to spell for people for their entire lives. So I can't love this.

And before you go one step towards writing an irate reply, know that my daughters are Filipina on their father's side, and have a beautiful Spanish surname that is regularly mangled by just about everyone they meet. M
Mid-Continent Public Library
Looking for a book to read to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month? Here is one you will revisit year after year. Alma doesn't have just one name -- she has six! For a little person that seems like a heavy burden until she begins to hear the stories of all those people who share their names with her. A delightful slice of Peruvian culture and a story early readers will identify with. Perfect for read alouds. * Reviewed by Darla from Red Bridge * ...more
La Coccinelle
Nov 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children
This is a sweet little story about a girl whose father is explaining to her how she got her long and elaborate name.

Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has a lot of names. Too many, she thinks. But as her father sits her down and explains the origin of each part of her name, she finds herself relating to the people she was named after.

Soft colours and sweet illustrations highlight the story. The whole thing is simple, but it works. I have to admit that I'm a bit jealous. As someone whose pare
Mary Ann
Oh how I love this book. As one young reader told me, “it makes me want to learn more about my own name.” Alma helps us all feel like we are special for being unique. Alma Sofia Esperanza Josi Pura Candela worries about her long name until her father tells her family stories, one for each person she's named after. The illustrations are soft and gently sweet, showing the distinctive essence of each ancestor and the affections between Alma and her family. ...more
My name is Catherine Victoria Saavedra Pic. Catherine after my mother and Victoria in honor of my grandfather, Victor. Saavedra from my dad and Pic from my mom. Names are not only important as identity markers, but to understand and see ones progression of their own family. I love my Latin name and my Latin culture.

Please read the author's note at the end of the book, it makes this lovely book even lovelier.
Ms. B
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Super cute story about how a little girl ends up with five middle names! It kind of reminded me of the 1974 Caldecott Honor Tikki Tikki Tembo which also featured a child with a many names.
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just lovely. The concept, the art, the text. It all works together beautifully.

And also it has the daughter sitting with her father in that platonic ideal of a reading chair.

Library copy.
Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has a long name, but each part of it is special as it represents and honors a member on her family tree. Nice naming tradition!

There isn't much of a story in this picturebook, but I love the message that our names are the representations and everyday reminders of where we came from.

However, the real star of the show is Juana Martinez-Neal's sketchy yet detailed pencil illustrations with some splashes of red/pink and blue. So soft and cute, yet expressive an
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Readers Looking for Picture-Books About Names and/or Featuring a Latino Cultural Outlook
Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela thinks that her name is too long, and complains to her father that it doesn't "fit." He sits her down and tells her the stories of all the family members she is named after, from her grandmother Sofia to her great-aunt Pura, and as she comes to appreciate these ancestors, Alma becomes more appreciative of her name. In the end, her father tells her that her first name, Alma, is hers alone...

Although author/illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal has provided the art
First sentence: Alma Sofia Esperanza Jose Pura Candela had a long name--too long, if you asked her. "My name is so long, Daddy. It never fits," Alma said. "Come here," he said. "Let me tell you the story of your name. Then you decide if it fits."

Premise/plot: After Alma hears the story of her name will she change her mind? This picture book celebrates families and individuality. Also storytelling.

My thoughts: I love, love, love the premise of this one. I love the story telling. I love the emphas
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
What a sweet story of the many parts of who a child is because of their name. Each name for Alma represented family members and their particular traits and, honestly, it made me reflect on my name; where it came from, what traits I might have from the person who shared my middle name. (It also made me think of the scene in Pulp Fiction where Butch tells the cabbie, "I'm American, honey. Our names don't mean shit" because I feel like this is also first name came from nowhere). The illus ...more
Mary Lee
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-book, 2018, latinx
LOVE LOVE LOVE this and will add it to my stack of books for exploring names at the beginning of the year!
Apr 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Many people in Spanish speaking countries have very long family names. This sweet book offers children a sense of history as they explore what their names might mean, and their own family tree.
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Darling tale of how Alma got her name.
A beautiful story about the importance of names and how they shape our identity.
Featured in a grandma reads session.

How did you come by YOUR name? Why did your parents pronounce upon you the name you've most likely carried throughout your life - reconciled with it one way or another, or loved it, or switched it up. One of the best myths a parent can teach their kiddos is what the author of this book does - how did Alma get her name? She walks Alma (and us) through the halls that show each of her namesakes as real people, loved, adored, honored. Alma has about seven names be
Robert Davis
**** Caldecott Honor (2019) ****

When I was nine years old in the third grade, our teacher told us to write out our full name (first, middle and last) in cursive handwriting. I wrote out my full four worded name. When she looked at my paper, she told me that I was only allowed to have three names. "Why?", I asked? She said that everybody has only three names.

She was wrong of course, but I still felt bad.

I can empathize with little Alma Sofia Esperanza Jose Pura Candela when she complains to her
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Update - Review on blog: https://bookishrealmreviews.blogspot....

This was such an important book for me for two reasons:

1) It's the name of my great-grandmother who passed away last November.
2) I'm currently pregnant with my little girl and each one of her names has a meaning. Her two middle names are an indication of her grandmother and great-grandmother and her last name has a lot of history behind it.

I thought think that this is a great book for any parent that is interested in teaching th
Joy (joyous reads)
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: candlewick
This is such a wonderful story about the history of a little girl's full name.

Alma Esperanza Jose Pura Candela.

Nowadays, the names of our kids hardly reflect our heritage. I know my kids' names don't have any history to speak of. We chose their names for the simple reasons that we liked them. I think it's beautiful when your child asks you where their name came from and you can tell them a short history about it.
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Juana Martinez-Neal is the recipient of the 2019 Caldecott Honor for “Alma and How She Got Her Name” (Candlewick Press), the 2018 Pura Belpré Medal for Illustration for "La Princesa and the Pea" (written by Susan M. Elya, Putnam), and the 2020 Sibert Medal for “Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story” (written by Kevin Noble Maillard, Roaring Brook Press).

Juana was named to the International Boa

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