Saturday, August 3, 2013

Love, Amalia by Alma Flor Ada & Gabriel M. Zubizarreta

Image from
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2012

Amalia can’t believe it. Her best friend Martha is moving away from their neighborhood in Chicago all the way to “some weird place in California.” There are so many emotions surrounding this sudden change that Amalia doesn’t want to think or talk about Martha at all. She doesn’t think things can get worse, but then her beloved Abuelita dies and Amalia finds herself overwhelmed with even more emotions. Amalia has so many wonderful memories of spending Friday afternoons with her grandmother. They would listen to soft music while Abuelita shared family recipes and tell stories of Amalia’s relatives, her mami, tios, tias, and Abuelito. Who will tell these stories now? How will Amalia learn the all the recipes unshared? How will Amalia get along without her two best friends?

This short book begins with a quote in English and Spanish from a poem by Pedro Salinas. This sets the stage for a quiet, reflective story about sensitive young Amalia. The story is written in third person, with Amalia’s thoughts and feelings at the center. In short chapters Amalia reflects on significant moments she shared with Abuelita and Martha and through these reflections she is able to deal with her grief at losing two close friends. Cultural and family pride is a major theme throughout this intergenerational story, from the delicious foods Amalia and her grandmother make to the values Abuelita passes onto her family. Easily defined by context, Spanish words are deftly incorporated into the narrative and dialogue. Back matter includes two recipes that Abuelita gives to Amalia, as well as a list of open ended questions and an invitation for readers to write to the authors with their answers. These questions would be great for a book club discussion. A good recommendation for readers who are dealing with the loss of a loved one.

Read an excerpt of the book to get an idea of the gentle writing style. This book is also available in Spanish (I believe Ada and Zubizaretta did their own translation). 

*Have kids bring in a card or letter from someone special and either tell or write a story about that person. Alternatively, have kids write a letter to someone special.

*Check out Ada’s website for more discussion questions, as well as research and writing activities, in Spanish and English.

Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Muñoz Ryan
The Skirt by Gary Soto

*More chapter books by Ada:

*More chapter books by Ada and Zubizarreta:

Age 8+ / Grade 3+



  1. That sounds like a really lovely book on how others deal with absence and loss. Looks beautiful too.

    1. Isn't the cover art lovely? I read this book in an afternoon (I suddenly realized I hadn't read anything I wanted to blog about and it was Friday!). Such a gentle book.