Thursday, October 13, 2005
Title: Doña Flor: A Tall Tale About a Giant Woman With a Great Big Heart
Author: Pat Mora
Illustrator: Raul Colón
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (October 25, 2005)
Award winning Pat Mora and illustrator Raul Colón, an award winner in his own right have collaborated once again in this funny, touching and gorgeous book. They have partnered once before with Tomás and the Library Lady, which won several awards, including the Tomás Rivera Mexican-American Children’s Book Award.
Doña Flor is a giant woman who lives in the Southwest and makes giant tortillas which the children use as rafts and the grown ups use to roof their houses making the air smell of sunshine and warm corn. Her casa is as huge as a mountain, which she made herself adding estrellas to make the adobe shine. To cheer up the villagers, she scratches them out a rio. Everything she grows in her garden grows to amazing sizes and she lets the children in her pueblo use flowers for trumpets and the huge sunflowers for umbrellas. The people love the beautiful and kind Doña Flor and look up to her so it is no surprise when the villagers hear a loud roaring to call on her for help against the strange sound. What follows is a funny and wonderful tall tale of Doña Flor’s hunt for the creature that is terrifying the villagers she protects and loves. Pat Mora’s story telling is humorous, wonderful and filled with her love for the Southwest. The imagery is amazing; you can almost smell those giant corn tortillas and hear the roar of the “monster gato”.
The illustrations by Raul Colón are lovely, a wondrous combination of watercolor washes, etchings and colored and litho pencils. Doña Flor and her world are vividly portrayed and you can almost step into each page and walk into the fantastic world created by Ms. Mora. The characters faces are so beautiful; Doña Flor in particular is a gorgeous rendition of a Mexican woman with a beautiful oval brown face, full lips and deep brown eyes. She is reminiscent of a Diego Rivera painting or a Da Vinci Madonna. The colors are soft yet vibrant – luscious blue-greens and the rich warm hues of a desert sunset. Ay que bonito! I loved this book and the story made me laugh out loud. I love turning the pages and finding more and more to love in the illustrations of children marching with their flower trumpets – copa de oro my grandmother called those flowers and just about every house in our neighborhood growing up had them growing so the book also brought back a rush of warm and happy memories.
Pat Mora writes poetry, non-fiction and children’s books. She is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship and a Kellogg National Fellowship. She is a native of El Paso, Texas and currently lives in Santa Fe.
Raul Colón has illustrated many books for children. He has been awarded gold and silver medals from the Society of Illustrators for his picture-book art. Mr. Colón resides in New York City.
Until next week,
Gina MarySol Ruiz