Under the Royal Palms: A Childhood in Cuba
Under the Royal Palms: A Childhood in Cuba
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Annotation: The author recalls her life and impressions growing up in Cuba.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #4356253
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 1998
Edition Date: 1998
Pages: 96
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-689-80631-0
ISBN 13: 978-0-689-80631-5
Dewey: 921
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Short vignettes of growing up in a small town in Cuba make up this companion volume to Where the Flame Trees Bloom 1994). Sometimes the commentary about life and its miracles and mysteries is intrusive, but, fortunately, there is not too much adult voice-over, and the events are told mainly from the viewpoint of the child, who just glimpses adult secrets or tries to understand her own. The best story is about her bond with a ballet teacher who included Ada in the class even though she was clumsy; the teacher gave her a place and helped her through a lonely time. The attention paid to small daily things as well as the occasional awareness of historical events will encourage readers to look for their own family stories. (Reviewed November 15, 1998)
Horn Book
To prepare for Christmas, Milo and his dinosaur siblings go shopping, decorate their tree, and write letters to Santasaurus. Milo's brother and sister want toys, while he wants to ride in Santasaurus's sleigh. On Christmas Eve, his wish comes true as he helps deliver presents all over Dinosaur World. This simple, kid-friendly story, with its festive illustrations, captures the holiday spirit.
Kirkus Reviews
Of books comprising nuggets of memory there seems to be no end, and in a companion volume to her Where the Flame Trees Bloom (1994, not reviewed), Ada recounts small stories of growing up in the town of in CamagAey, Cuba. She captures with some feeling the powerful effect of scent on memory: night jasmine, coffee, ylang-ylang, and her grandmother's perfume of lavender and sage. She immortalizes sibling hurts and uncles' gifts, and writes of the childhood mystery of adult conversations partially overheard and partially understood. She is rich in family, attempting with her grandmother the impossible task of counting bats as they fly, and smashing her favorite doll when her dashing uncle dies in a plane crash. She is rich in memories of other adults, too: Madame Marie, a French-Jewish refugee; Gilda, a dance teacher, whose affection carried Ada through an impossible year at school. Some repetition does not detract, and children might be moved by Ada's exhortation to consider their own family stories. (b&w photographs) (Memoir. 9-14)
Publishers Weekly
In this handsomely designed companion volume to Where the Flame Trees Bloom, Ada once again draws upon her experiences growing up in post-war Cuba. In a short introduction, the author describes her hometown, Camaguey, as a """"city of contrasts""""--diverse religions and education and economic levels (""""some had so much and others had very little""""). The 10 stories that follow do not focus on these oppositions so much as the unique experiences of young Alma and her extended family. Several memories poignantly expose the disparity between those who have and those who have not, such as """"Explorers,"""" in which young Alma and her cousin get lost in a marabu field and are aided and fed by a poverty-stricken family. Others illustrate life lessons (for example, the impossible but gleeful task of counting bats in flight for their nightly feeding taught Alma to appreciate the process of an endeavor, rather than its completion). But the best of these stories simply recreate a poignant or humorous moment from the author's girlhood: Alma sipping from a porron (a small clay pot) at school, lovingly filled with water by her mother; Alma's pride in her uncle's daring turning to grief when he dies in an airplane crash. Many of the stories stand well alone, but some take a meandering expository path to recount a history or explain a term. These more formal (though often graceful) tangents distance readers from the slices of life. Still, at the core of the collection, there is a heartfelt portrayal of a quickly disappearing culture and a vastly beautiful land. Ages 8-12. (Nov.)
School Library Journal
Ada presents stories about growing up in Cuba in the 1940s that would not otherwise be available to readers living in the U.S. This collection offers a close look at an active and loving extended family, and it provides information on a prolific author. An accessible resource for students studying Latino writers. (Gr 3-5) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Word Count: 15,443
Reading Level: 6.6
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 6.6 / points: 3.0 / quiz: 28240 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:6.1 / points:6.0 / quiz:Q19672
Lexile: 1070L
Guided Reading Level: V
Fountas & Pinnell: V

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 teacher that helped sustain young Alma Flor through a miserable year in school. We meet relatives, like her mysterious Uncle Manolo, whose secret, she later learns, is that he dedicated his life to healing lepers. We share the tragedy of another uncle whose spirited personality leads to his love of flying...and the crash that takes his life.
Heartwarming, poignant, and often humorous, this collection encourages children to discover the stories in their our own lives -- stories that can help inform their own values and celebrate the joys and struggles we all share no matter where or when we grew up.

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