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My Name Is Maria Isabel Paperback – September 1, 1995


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 5
  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (September 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 068980217X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689802171
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.2 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Armed with her new blue bookbag, Maria Isabel bravely faces her first day at a new school. But when she meets her new teacher, she is told there are already two other Marias in the class. "Why don't we call you Mary instead?" her teacher suggests, unaware that Maria was named for both her grandmothers, a grandfather and her father. Maria's inability to respond to "Mary" leads to more problems. Simply told, this story combines the struggle of a Puerto Rican family's efforts to improve their life with a shared sense of pride in their heritage. The author's carefully drawn characterizations avoid stereotypes, thus increasing their appeal and believability. An essay involving a wish list gives Maria a chance to reclaim her name, and allows her teacher to make amends. Abetted by Thompson's straightforward black-and-white drawings, this contemporary tale serves as a good reminder that no two names are really alike. Ages 7-10.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-4-- This gentle story tells of Maria Isabel Salazar Lopez, who finds herself dubbed "Mary Lopez" when her family moves and she is placed in a class with two other Marias. Maria Isabel finds it hard to respond to a name that does not seem like hers. Her teacher doesn't understand why it is so difficult for her to answer to "Mary" until the child is inspired to address her paper on "My Greatest Wish" to the topic of her name. The result is not only a happy ending, but also an affirming study of heritage and how it is integrally bound up in an individual's sense of self. The brief text, adequately extended by line drawings, reads aloud well and could certainly be used in conjunction with Gary Soto's The Skirt (Delacorte, 1992) to illustrate the Hispanic culture that is part of the lives of many contemporary children. --Ann Welton, Terminal Park Elementary School, Auburn, WA
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

What a great way to learn about other cultures!
Elena Dieck
I read this book in college as a part of a book club required by the school.
Christine Olsen
I would also recommend it to kids to read for enjoyment.
K. Wilson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Christine Olsen on September 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
I read this book in college as a part of a book club required by the school. I loved this book as soon as I read it. It can teach teachers how to be culturally sensative to all their students. A name is a very important possession to most of us. It is an only possession to some children. It is also good for those teachers who are stuck thinking that children "should just learn our language" when in reality it is a long process. I would like to recommend this book to those who are teaching children ESL and those regular classroom teachers who have ESL students in their rooms. I loved it!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on December 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
A sweet story that kids will easily identify with. I found this book very easy for a small child to understand, and I appreciated the theme that any kid can take to heart. Not fitting in and the fear of not being liked by one's superior (in this case, a teacher) is a universal theme. The fact that Maria gets saddled with an incompetent teacher from the start doesn�t help matters for her anyway. As much as I�d like to rail against the idea of a teacher changing her student�s name because, �We already have two Marias in this class�, I know that there is no lack of incompetent, yet well meaning, teachers in the world who�d do this very thing. It isn�t entirely clear in the story why it is that Maria doesn�t discuss her problems with her parents or her teacher. People reading this book to children should make it clear that Maria would have dealt with a lot less misery if she had simply told someone why she felt badly. And some kids may wish for a more concrete ending than the one offered here. Why doesn�t the teacher apologize to Maria? In any case, this book might fit in well with other stories of new kids in school. Even the Ramona Quimby books would pair nicely, as a very different little girl dealing with school and her teacher.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By K. Wilson on July 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
My Name is María Isabel is the story of a little girl facing a difficult problem when she is forced to change schools mid-year. At her new school, her teacher decides to call her Mary because there are already two girls named María in the class. María Isabel does not want to be called Mary but she doesn't know how to tell her teacher. She consistently fails to respond when the teacher calls on her in class because she doesn't recognize Mary as her name. This leads to the teacher assuming that she does not want to participate in the school's Winter Pageant. When the teacher has the students write an essay titled, My Greatest Wish, María Isabel gets her chance to say how she feels.

This book would be appropriate for ages 8 and 9. Children in this age group are beginning to develop empathy for others, and an understanding of right and wrong. Most children will be able to relate to facing a problem and not knowing what to do about it. I would use this book for a read-aloud in a school setting as part of a discussion about cultural sensitivity and awareness. I would also recommend it to kids to read for enjoyment.

The artwork consists of black and white pencil or charcoal drawings placed sporadically throughout the text. The drawings are placed consistently with the text that they refer to and they are culturally accurate. The illustrator also added elements of María Isabel's thoughts into many of the pictures. For example, when María Isabel is reading Charlotte's Web and feeling as if she is caught her own spider's web, there is a drawing of her in bed reading with shadows of a spider's web on the wall behind her.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on November 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
Maria Isabel by Alma Flor Ada was a joyful book. It made me think of my sister. Maria Isabel has a hard time as school because the teacher called her a new name because her name was too long. I liked the book because it was a delightful book and it always had adventures. I would recommend this book to girls because she they would love this book.
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By Daniel L. Berek on December 19, 2008
Format: Paperback
Me Llamo María Isabel (My Name Is Maria Isabel) tells the story of a young girl who moved from Puerto Rico to New York City and how she seeks to adapt to her new society while retaining her cultural identity. On her first day of school, because there are already two girls named Maria in the class, María's teacher introduces the new girl as Mary Lopez. María Isabel, however, does not like the sound of the Anglo name, which sounds strange to her. María Isabel Salazar López is proud of her appellation, as she was named after much admired members of her family. She knows that the teacher means no harm, but does not know how to tell her what she wants. While reading Charlotte's Web, María Isabel realizes how her spider heroine conveyed her message and finds an ingenious way to tell her teacher and everyone else how she really feels.

Alma Flor Ada tells a beautiful story about dignity without preaching. My only criticism is that, with other Latino and Latina students in her class, she could not have asked them to translate her desire to the teacher, or why María Isabel was not in a bilingual class. The story's central theme, though, is very real. Overall, this story is a gem; if you are looking for a great way to brush up on one's Spanish, try that version, titled "Me Llamo Maria Isabel."
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