Alma and How She Got Her Name by J. Martinez-Neal

  • Jill Brown


Martinez-Neal, Juana. Alma and How She Got Her Name. Candlewick Press, 2018.

Alma and How She Got Her Name is the perfect book for any child who questions the meaning behind his or her name. In Juana Martinez-Neal’s first picture book, she tells the beautiful story of a young girl who wonders why her name is so long. Alma Sofia Esperanza Jose Pura Candela slowly hears the special meaning behind each one of her names from her Dad and begins to see how well her name fits her. Alma learns about her ancestors and how they can be role models in her life and how their personalities are reflected in her.  

Martinez-Neal has created stunning illustrations using graphite and coloured pencils that evoke a calming mood and complement the theme of family connection and intimacy. The author makes excellent use of descriptive, expressive language to tell this story. The words and pictures work together to emphasize the importance of family and finding a sense of belonging.

This story is a perfect way for parents to start a conversation with their children about their name and their ancestors. This book would also make a great resource in the classroom as it celebrates cultural diversity and it will send a powerful message to students with names that are often mispronounced or made fun of. Children will learn to feel proud about who they are and what their name means. Juana Martinez-Neal shares the story of the meaning behind her own name at the end of the book and invites the reader to do the same.

Highly Recommended: 4 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Jill Brown

Jill Brown is currently in her fourth year of the B.Ed. Elementary program at the University of Alberta. She has had a passion for reading since an early age and she looks forward to sharing that passion with her future elementary students.

How to Cite
BrownJ. (2019). Alma and How She Got Her Name by J. Martinez-Neal. The Deakin Review of Children’s Literature, 8(4).
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