STARRED REVIEW
November 2005

Here she comes to save the day

By Pat Mora, illustrated by Raúl Colón
Review by
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Somewhere deep in the American Southwest lives a big lady a really big lady. Big enough to be Swamp Angel's sister or Paul Bunyan's cousin, Do–a Flor lives in the mountains where she was born. Nurtured by the sweet songs of her mother, Flor grew and grew and grew, until she was big enough to build her own house, "as big as a mountain and as open as a canyon."

Flor might be big, but she is a gentle giant, blessed with the ability to talk to animals of all sizes, from the teeniest bug to the village schoolchildren to the most ferocious puma. And, when one of these pumas terrorizes her neighbors and friends, Dona Flor steps in and tames the giant cat and saves her village.

Pat Mora and Raul Colon, who created the award-winning picture book Tomas and the Library Lady, team up again to bring children a traditional-sounding tale with a Spanish accent. With Spanish words easily sprinkled among the English, Dona Flor reads like a story told by an abuela to her English-speaking grandchildren. And this abuela loves telling her story and adding delicious details each time she tells it giant tortillas that can be used as rafts or roofs, Flor reading an entire encyclopedia in five minutes, and tiny pumas sleeping in the wrinkles of her dress.

Colon's signature art, a combination of watercolor, etching and litho pencils, carefully reflects the plot, helping the non-Spanish reader understand the occasional unfamiliar words. Often, Colon draws Flor so large that her head is cut off by the frame of the illustration. Stomping off to find the troublesome puma, Flor's angry fists pump the air as she completely fills the frame. Later, with tiny villagers at her feet, our heroine plucks una estrella from the night sky and hangs the star over her door so her friends can find their way to her.

Creating the feeling of an old-fashioned tall tale, Mora and Colon have crafted an original story, filled with gentle rhythms of a bedtime lullaby certain to satisfy young readers.

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Doña Flor

Doña Flor

By Pat Mora, illustrated by Raúl Colón
Knopf
ISBN 9780375823374

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