Jennifer Cervantes: Tortilla Sun



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Nses with its flavor aroma and texture Few books are as sensuously enjoyable as this one which is somewhat surprising for a novel that deals so frankly with death If all authors could write ike Jennifer Cervantes the world would be packed with enthusiastic readers I give Tortilla Sun three and a half stars and considered rounding up to four and I believe I ve found a new underrated book to recommend to those who have yet to be wooed by its velvety voice Thank you Jennifer Cervantes for a treasure Sacrifício (Alera, like Tortilla Sun Iove it Izzy and her mother have moved times than she wants to remember She s just getting settled again when her mom announces she s received a research grant to study in Costa Rica and Izzy will be spending the summer with her nana in New MexicoIzzy doesn t know her grandmother very well and she s not at all happy about being dumped for a couple of months while her mom is gone But once she arrives at the small adobe village near Albuuerue magic starts to happen As Izzy begins to discover about her family and herself she begins to feel Royal Crush (From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess, like she may have finally found a place to call homeTortilla Sun by Jennifer Cervantes weaves aittle magic into the story and a The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty lot of magic into readers as the tale unwinds Izzy s nana has a way with tortillas and a way with people as well The story of Izzy s parents and her own past slowly comes out in small bites to help her digest it aittle bit at a time and in the process she comes to know and Wildcat (Mavericks Tackle Love, love the people of the villageTortilla Sun had meonging to see the Sandia Mountains feel the warmth of the sun and hear the call of the wind Bright New Mexico comes as vividly alive as the colors worn by many of its people This book is recommended for ages 9 to 12 but I think girls up to 14 or 15 may enjoy it too And the moms are Amanhã na Batalha Pensa em Mim likely to be delighted by Izzy s journey of self discovery Issues to discuss include family heritage ethnic traditions dealing with grief and finding acceptanceThere s a recipe in the back for tortillas that I can t wait to try and making them could be a fun mother daughter book club activity I highly recommend Tortilla Sun This was a sweet book about a twelve year old girl Izzy who spends the summer with her grandmother in New Mexico while her mother finishes her studies While she is there she becomes immersed in the Mexican culture that her mother had surpressed out of grief after the death of her husband Izzy searches for answers about her father s death and she may find them if she can find the voice in the windI m alwaysooking for books with Latino culture and was very happy to have found this one There is A Dance of Sisters lots ofanguage food tradition folklore and even superstition that really make the reader feel that the have traveled to New Mexico This will be a great addition to my elementary school Judge (Breeding, library A middle school reader about a young girl Izzy who is shipped off to spend the summer with her grandmother in New Mexico so her mother can continue her research in Costa Rica Izzy is drawn into her Latin roots makes some young friends has to deal with some trauma as well as discovering why her mother has been so reluctant to discuss her deceased husband The town storyteller Socorro also adds a bit of mystery to the whole story Enjoyable read Worthwhile addition to schoolibraries too ReviewWhat would you do if you were confronted with a mystery about your father and your mother won t talk about it Izzy s mother has always been restless After many moves in California they have just moved again While unpacking Izzy comes across her father s old baseball with the mysterious words Because Love written on one side The words between have been rubbed out Her mother has never told Izzy anything about her father except that he died before Izzy was bornIzzy ikes to write stories although she seldom gets beyond the beginning Now a new story is buzzing in her mind about the strange words on the baseball Then Izzy earns she is to spend the summer with her grandmother in New Mexico while her mother finishes research in Costa RicaIn New Mexico Izzy soon steps into another world Her grandmother Nana is an herbalist full pithy wisdoms The Castillos Chinese Whispers live in part of Nana s house Their son Mateo is Izzy s age When the two become friends Mateo tells Izzy about Socorro the village storyteller who sees the future and a map that tells of hidden treasure And often asife unfolds in the village her mother came from Izzy hears a mysterious whisper carried by the wind that seems to be the voice of her fatherTortilla Sun is a beautiful story of a young girl s search for wisdom and truth and her discovery of her culture The book moves at a Wheres Mummy Mouse? leisurely pace that gathers in momentum and mystery with a touch of magic The characters are richly drawn and the village blossoms withife Izzy is a sympathetic protagonist entirely believable To tell why the book is called Tortilla Sun would give away too much of the story and I don t want to be a spoiler This is a book young people will enjoy and read than once Izzy is preparing to settle into a new apartment for the summer She is going through a box one morning and sees a baseball that must have belonged to her father Her mom just cannot face her husband s death even after 12 years and hides the ball Now really curious Izzy finds and stashes the ball so her mom won t see it Unexpectedly a grant comes through for Mom to study in Costa Rica and Izzy must go visit her Nana in New Mexico Izzy really does not want to do this but is given no choice in the matter This is a sweet story of Izzy s magical summer in a tiny village near Albuuerue Izzy is finally allowed to know about her father She finds and creates extended family during a warm and wonderful summer that is not easy but is comforting Izzy s mom is distant and they move a Get Over Your Damn Self lot Her dad died before she was born So when her mother gets a chance to study in Costa Rica for the summer and sends Izzy toive with her grandmother in New Mexico she finally gets a chance to find out about her mother s past and it sheds a great deal of Alpha Dog (Weredog Chronicles) light on who she is and how sheives Her grandmother is warm and open and Izzy uickly falls into Mr. Funny life in their small Latino community Mysteries paranormal events and an attractive slightly older boy add to the story Most kids in grades 4 and up with find something toike in this book If you read this book have a box of tissues ready I plan on posting a Heres to the Ladies longer review but want to think about this aittle I will say that I Saying Yes to the Millionaire loved having a story featured around Latino characters and celebrating the Latino heritage and culture I wouldike to use this as a read aloud with my fifth graders this year Very powerful messageSee my full review on Izzy has just gotten settled into yet another new home While unpacking she comes across a baseball that had belonged to her father It has the words becausemagic on it When she asks her mom about it her mom takes it away and puts it up Izzy gets the ball back out and then The Majors Guarded Heart / The Highlanders Dangerous Temptation / Paying the Vikings Price learns the next morning that her mother has r A beautifully written story I simplyoved While reading I kept highlighting favorite uotes As 12year old Izzy discovered the secret about her past amd the magic of her grandmother s village in New Mexico while spending the summer there the magic of the story captured me taking me on an emotional ride that brought tears of sorrow and joy to my eyes A heartwarming story around family and friendship and about finding the courage to deal with the past to heal and allow the joy back into one s ife because as Izzy s Nana says Life is magic. Dscape of watermelon mountains whispering winds and tortilla suns Infused with the flavor of the southwest and sprinkled with just a pinch of magic this heartfelt middle grade debut is as rich and satisfying as Nana's homemade enchiladas.

Ch so ong and thin that they break and you re Merry Christmas, Daddy left with no plans at all Nana tells Izzy Perhaps byetting Izzy go she s sending a signal that she too may be ready to rejoin the community in the near future Twelve years is a Roped in long time to be separated from friends and family Tortilla Sun is chock full ofuxurious writing phrases that sound so nice I re read them several times just for the pleasure of it My favorite I felt as though melted chocolate had oozed its way from my heart to my toes coating me with comfort on its way down Oh my yes I l certainly think on that description from time to time imagining my sweetest moments as a fountain of chocolate gurgling its cacao pathway over my insides salving my heart in delicious flow Of course that might make me hungry The process of storytelling is addressed compellingly in Tortilla Sun focusing on an aspect many impatient consumers forget Readers and viewers of television and movies can be so impatient to get to the good part that writers are forced to set events into motion prematurely to keep their audience content That often mutes the story s power because the triumph of good over evil only has maximum impact if it arrives fortuitously We need time to feel the inevitability of evil s success for it to be a welcome relief if and when the good guys suddenly improbably find an avenue to victory It should feel ike such an unexpected gift that it Secrets of the Tycoons Bride (The Garrisons, leaves usaughing and physically trembling in relief because we genuinely believed it wouldn t turn out the way it should How euphoric it is to get a game changing victory after you were certain of doom That s the crux of exceptional story weaving and Nana understands it well She could give Izzy all the details of her father s Samanthas Gift life and death at once but it won t mean as much as it should apart from context and that context can only be achieved by Izzy interacting with the villagers whooved her father hearing from them the part of his story they knew and can relate as no one else could It s not dry facts Izzy craves but a true portrait of her father and portraits take time to paint finesse brushstrokes blotting and detail work to reveal what the subject of the portrait meant to its artist Nana uses tomatoes for the analogy as she slices a couple of them for Izzy s Friscos Kid (Tall, Dark Dangerous lunch All stories are told in due time Justike these needed time to grow on the vine until they were ripe An unripe story is Courting Miss Adelaide (Noblesville, Indiana, like an unripe tomato no good at all What impatient consumers of art need to realize is that they can push for storylines to wrap up uickly but all they re getting is an unripe tomato A story has to plump on the vine to grow succulent enough for us to sink our teeth into and enjoy Nana reinforces this conceptater when Izzy presses her to reveal too much at one time Remember some stories need to be unfolded slowly so we can appreciate what s inside of them Socorro take the same approach to the magic of story and as a soothsayer she knows something about magic You must be very patient to tell stories And you must sit with the idea allowing it to simmer A Convenient Wife like soup on the stove You wouldn t go to all the trouble of cutting up the ingredients throwing them in the pot and expecting it to cook without fire right Creative artists canearn from these similes about the writing process but so can fans who give in to their own short attention spans and demand the delivery of their entertainment be expedited Writers will concoct better stories and consumers have higher uality entertainment to enjoy if everyone slows down and shows patience The payoff is exhillirating Much of Tortilla Sun is Izzy s struggle to wrap her mind around her father s death a calamity that couldn t have affected her mother personally but feels distant to Izzy because it occurred before she took her first breath She wants to know her father well enough to A Colton Target love him but is afraid of how sad shel feel if she understands what she Love Isnt Enough lost It s a conundrum but there are many in Nana s village who wouldove to help her through it Izzy doesn t see why anyone should die young especially a good man as everyone says her father was but Nana explains that some Prodigal Prince Charming lives weren t fated toast Task Force Bride long Each of us comes into thisife with only a thread of time to A Soldiers Family (Wings of Refuge, live our essence Some threads are shorter than others It s not theength of the thread but the strength of its fiber that determines a Desejo Indomado (To Tame A Playboy, life s value a sturdy strand may taper prematurely but it s never going to snap When the end comes for a dear friend of the family while Izzy isiving in the village Nana has hopeful words about the future of death we won t endure its sting forever Death sweeps the earth but has no power in el cielo Heaven is where we will really know those we Dangerously Attractive (Harlequin Intrigue love She is gone only for a short moment Remember that The moment ofoss feels interminable when we re Mistress left stranded without the reason for our heart s contentment the one who brings meaning to our daily existence but the parting isn t permanent Death is not absolute Nana assures Izzy Yet Izzy is full of uestions about her father s passing Is itegitimate for her to miss him even though they never met Does one ever recover from death to taste happiness again in spite of missing their Cinderella Story Part 2 (36 Hours) loved one so much Nana gives us words of comfort to deal with bereavement a gentle shepherd s staff to guide us forward so we don t get stuck in the muck and mire of grief You will always feel his absence but you can still find joy Like now we are sad but that doesn t mean we can t smile or thatife won t ever be normal again You shouldn t feel bad for moments of joy We must find our way back to joy Bit by bit And some of us will find it sooner than others But the final A Ranchers Redemption lesson for Izzy is thatife cannot break as easily as she fears We may believe it s shattered beyond repair by a tragedy that makes us feel A Doctor, a Nurse, a Christmas Baby like prisoners of our own grief but no catastrophe no matter how agonizing can really destroy ourife Socorro conveys this point to Izzy with her truth catcher a talisman Socorro says will reveal to Izzy the truth about her own A Mother in the Making life and the tragedies that shaped it When the truth catcher is accidentally smashed Izzy despairs of discovering the truth she s waited twelve years for but Socorro isn t concerned The truth has a habit of appearing one way or another and the talisman s broken condition isn t as fatal to its usefulness as Izzy assumes You know mija sometimes we need to see things from a different point of view You are stillooking at the truth catcher as a whole But you see it has only changed shapes Try not to see the truth catcher as you think it should be Instead study two pieces at a time to see if or how they connect That s how you will remake it We crack Her Kind Of Cowboy like glass under the relentless pressure of tragedy and can never be glued back together perfectly the fractures will always be visible But our truths hopes and dreams have merely assumed new shape and we can benefit as much from them as we did before if we re able to reconcile ourselves to aittle brokenness We can divine the truth even after our catcher shatters There s still a wonderful His Pregnant Christmas Princess life to be pieced back together andived with thankfulness and joy 2011 was a year of spectacular candidates for the Newbery awards but I feel justified saying Tortilla Sun is superior to all four Honor books selected by the Committee I think it s at Through the Language Glass least as good as Clare Vanderpool s Moon Over Manifest which won the 2011 Newbery Medal What a blissful experience Tortilla Sun is the confection of the words melting on one s tongueike ice cream awakening the se. Tainly isn't sharing anyespecially when it comes to Izzy's father who died before Izzy was born But when she spends the summer in her Nana's remote New Mexico village Izzy discovers ong buried secrets that come alive in an enchanted an.

I Private Arrangements (Forged of Steele, love when a new storytelling talent creates such a beautiful first novel that we reeft wondering how they could have possibly been the one behind it As soon as I spotted Tortilla Sun on bookstore shelves in 2010 I instinctively identified it as a contender for the Newbery awards The book s aura was magical and the description on the book jacket promised a powerful story if the author executed it well Jennifer Cervantes s ability to come through in that regard was unknown but if she could put forth an exceptional inaugural performance I sensed this book would be special Tortilla Sun didn t end up winning recognition from the Newbery Committee and it took me six years to pick up the book and find out if my preliminary appraisal was accurate but I m happy to say it You Are Not A Gadget lived up to my expectations and Jennifer Cervantes s writing is milk and honey dripping from the story s branches a soothing treat for parched throats The tree itself is robust and deeply rooted to draw nourishment from the rich soil of Mexican culture it s planted in but Tortilla Sun is a joy to read for the melody of its prose as much as any strength of plot or character creationike the song of a million crickets on a muggy summer night It s rare to find a novel that approaches Tortilla Sun s ability to enchant us with the sound and rhythm of words and those of us who took a chance on Jennifer Cervantes s first book were blessed by what her talent brought to our Sanctuary lives This is a cuento a story about magicove hope and treasure If you read this under the glow of the moon or by the Forever Faithful (Forever Faithful, light of the summer sunisten for whispers in any breeze that passes by Then close your eyes and Friendfluence let the cuento take you to where magic still exists and spells of fear and hope are told through the heart of the storyteller from the Prologue to Tortilla Sun It s twelve year old Izzy Roybal and her mother against the world without their father and husband who died before Izzy was born We don t getong to see mother and daughter together before Izzy s mother is called away on a research expedition to Costa Rica but we get a hint that Izzy wishes she knew about her father when she finds a scuffed up baseball of his in an old box of her mother s belongings a ball with the words Because magic scrawled on it Izzy s mother always shuts down talk of Izzy s father putting it off for another day and it One Part Woman looksike it Stranger ll have to wait ateast until the end of summer now that Izzy s mother is Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis leaving for Costa Rica Izzy travels to New Mexico to stay with her mother s mother Nana in a cozy hamlet steeped in Latino culture and it doesn t takeong for Izzy to observe that the town is vastly different from urban California where she and her mother have apartment hopped for years Nana hosts a fiesta to welcome Izzy the first full day she s there inviting dozens of neighbors to her garden estate merry conversation twinkling in evening repose as Izzy meets the village residents Nana s house is roomier than most in the area arge enough to service boarders and the Castillos who share the house are the first people Izzy gets to know Thirteen year old Mateo Castillo ives on the other side of the small door off Izzy s bedroom she The English Spy (Gabriel Allon, learns this her first night at Nana s when she hears soft talking and the muted thrum of guitar music beyond the door Izzy meets Mateo at the fiesta and they get along comfortably from go but he s not the only friend she makes at the party Nana s village is populated by interesting people than Izzy could get to know in a single novel and she takes a specialiking to a few of them Six year old Maggie stands out from the Latino neighbors with her blonde hair and blue eyes shadowed by her dog Frida a feline who unconvincingly masuerades as a canine Maggie s parents are deceased and she To See Paris and Die lives with an elderlyady named Gip who has stories to tell about Izzy s father from before he married her mother Izzy s parents were beloved in the village but her mother hasn t returned since Izzy was a baby and Izzy isn t sure why She doesn t know any details of her father s passing either but answers await in the village Is she ready to Out of China learn the whole truth The most intriguing village resident is Socorro aithe woman of indeterminable age who mostly keeps to herself The silver streak in her hair marks Socorro as a soothsayer Mateo uietly informs Izzy she can glimpse the future and advise those willing to Mary Tudor listen but she must be approached with solemnity and respect A seer is not to beightly regarded Could Socorro tell Izzy what she As Aventuras de Hornblower (Saga Hornblower longs to know about her father As Izzy relaxes into villageife for the summer she finds that everyone in these parts knows something about her father She The Accidental Tourist learns of his awesome athletic talent the indomitableove he demonstrated for his new wife and soon to be first child and the details of his heartbreaking death Izzy s father was a baseball star in the making a terror with the bat who was on the brink of ualifying for a Major League roster His young Barcelona life held unlimited promise before tragedy stole him from his wife and daughter and Izzy wants to know everything about that tragedy even if it hurts Her ties to Nana s community strengthen as friends regale her with stories of her family s past and she finds herself watching over six year old Maggieike a big sister when Gip s wavering health prevents her from taking care of the girl On the verge of earning from Socorro what could have been had her father survived Izzy unintentionally waltzes into another tragedy one she doesn t see coming until too ate Her relationships with dear friends in the village are sorely tried when Izzy s mistake imperils the Collected Poems life of one as precious to her as her departed father Is history set to repeat in the saddest of ways or willove s magic spare Izzy and her family another traumatic oss that will change the course of their future From the moment she arrives in Nana s village Izzy senses the wind is whispering to her a spiritual companion kept at a distance most of her ife but eager to embrace Izzy now It s as though the spirit of A Song for Issy Bradley lostoved ones is guiding her steps urging her to connect with Nana Mateo Maggie Gip and Socorro to throw herself into the fiesta of village The First Family life and take comfort from a community that adores her so When you know you re unconditionallyoved you can relax and breathe easy A Sudden, Fearful Death (William Monk, letting the stress of uncertainty melt off your body in waves Tortilla Sun is a story of profound wisdom derived from Mexican tradition and that wisdom gives Izzy s heart wings to soar above the heaviness of past sadness We see in Nana s philosophy of color and excitement thatife is to be perpetually celebrated can there be too much The 7th Month (Detective D.D. Warren, laughter dancing and color Nana reacts to Izzy s surprise at the wild array of colors in her house But of course it s colorful Life is color isn t it Color and fun andovely words and Nana has a place for all three in her home That s why Izzy s bedroom is named Estrella the room with the best view of the stars at night hovering majestically in the firmament Different as Estrella is from her bedroom back home in the city Izzy comes to ove it ike a member of the family Though she wishes Izzy and her mother had visited years ago Nana understands her daughter s hesitancy to return to the village After the sudden death of her new husband before their first child s birth the village is as much a place of mourning as joy for her now and though she d surely Probability Statistics, Books a la Carte Edition like to mingle again withoved ones plans often don t solidify if a portion of our heart is reluctant Sometimes plans stret. When twelve year old Izzy discovers a beat up baseball marked with the words Becausemagic while unpacking in yet another new apartment she is determined to figure out what it means What secrets does this old ball have to tell Her mom cer.

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JC Cervantes