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Dona Flor: A Tall Tale About a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart (Pura Belpre Medal Book Illustrator (Awards)) Hardcover – October 11, 2005

4.7 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 3–A charming tall tale set in the American Southwest. Doña Flor, a giant, is a benevolent presence in her pueblo. While at first kids teased the young and large Flor, she quickly became an asset to them, whisking them off to school when they were running late or making tortillas big enough to be used as rafts on the river. The action starts when a puma is heard howling in the vicinity; the villagers are terrified and even Doña Flor can't find it. The animals know where the gato is so she follows their advice and the situation is delightfully resolved. Colón uses his signature mix of watercolor washes, etching, and litho pencils for the art. There is great texture and movement on each page in the sun-baked tones of the landscape. With Spanish words peppered throughout, this is a welcome entry to the canon that includes other heroines like Sally Ann Thunder and Thunder Rose.–Linda M. Kenton, San Rafael Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

PreS-Gr. 2. The creators of Tomas and the Library Lady (1997) offer another glowing picture book set in the American Southwest, but this time, the story is a magical tall tale. In a cozy village, Dona Flor grows from an unusual child, who can speak the language of plants and animals, into a giant, whose heart is as large as her enormous hands and feet. After ferocious animal cries terrorize the villagers, Flor sets out to find their source. The culprit--a tiny, mischievous puma, who ingeniously amplifies his kittenish growl into a beastly roar--is an amusing surprise, and Flor soothes the cat in its own language, returning peace to her village. Mora strengthens her economical, poetic text with vivid, fanciful touches: the villagers use Flor's colossal homemade tortillas as roofs, for example. Colon's signature scratchboard art extends the whimsy and gentle humor in lovely scenes of the serene heroine sweet-talking the animals or plucking a star from the sky. A winning read-aloud, particularly for children who can recognize the intermittent Spanish phrases. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 2
  • Lexile Measure: 860L (What's this?)
  • Series: Pura Belpre Medal Book Illustrator (Awards)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; Big edition (October 11, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375823379
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375823374
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 0.4 x 12.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #309,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on February 5, 2006
Format: Library Binding
Who doesn't like a good gigantic woman tall tale? From to Anne Isaacs', "Swamp Angel" to Lynne Bertrand's, "Granite Baby", I would dare say that there isn't a single poorly written picture book out there featuring a huge female. "Dona Flor" is no exception to that rule. Illustrated by the truly original Raul Colon and written by the prolific Pat Mora the story is not a wholly original one, but it's just well-written enough to deserve the praise it's received. A winner of the 2006 Pura Belpre Medal for Illustration and the Pura Belpre Honor for Narration, the story is a lovely series of small adventures by a larger than life gal.

If a person grows large plants by singing to them, then shouldn't the same logic apply to babies? Sure enough, when Dona Flor's mother sang to her little girl, that same babe grew and grew and grew. Our first image is of Flor washing her face with the snow of a nearby mountain. Able to speak to animals of every kind, she may have been considered different from the other kids but when it came to getting to school on time there was no one better to catch a ride on. When she was grown up she allowed everyone in her home, whether animal or person. One day the villagers are scared out of their wits by the deafening roar of a mountain lion. When the wind starts making a fuss as well Flor gets him under control with a big old hug. Finally, Flor finds the source of the giant cat's cries. Seems a puma has set up a somewhat clever hollow log device that blasts its voice over the countryside. Flor befriends the little kitty (little to her) then she and all her animal friends settle in for the night on some comfy fluffy clouds.

It takes one or two reads of the book to really get a feel for Mora's style of writing.
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Format: Paperback
Doña Flor, written by Pat Mora and illustrated by Raul Colón, tells the story of a giant woman that sleeps on clouds and makes piles of big tortillas. She protects her village from harm and she must do just that when the villagers inform her that a giant mountain lion threatens their safety. The biography of Raul Colón included on the dust jacket describes his illustrations as “an intriguing combination of watercolor washes, etching, and colored and litho pencils.”

When I look at Colón’s illustrations, the etchings remind me of fingerprints. The loops, the arches, the whorls, and all the lines that we might associate with fingerprints are visible in Colón’s illustrations. I am not familiar with techniques or the technicalities of etching and in saying that the illustrations remind me of fingerprints I do not mean to devalue the art in any way. My favorite illustration in this story is of Doña Flor using her thumb to carve out a riverbed in the village. Doña Flor is in a squatting position with her white skirt covering her thighs, and she has used her thumb to make a squiggly path for the water while the villagers look on. The riverbed has the details I associated with the fingerprints which, in this case, could be Doña Flor’s own prints.

Colón’s illustrations are beautiful, colorful, and magical. That I saw fingerprints when I looked closely at his illustrations speaks to the uniqueness of his art. While Doña Flor wears a blue shirt in most of the illustrations sometimes the shirt looks like it is embroidered and sometimes it looks like a plain T-shirt.
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Format: Paperback
With Doña Flor, Mora narrates the story of a giant, benevolent woman, literally aggrandizing and extolling the female protagonist. Doña Flor challenges many unfortunate yet common ideas—that women should take up less space, speak less loudly and opine less frequently—by featuring a goddess-like woman who is unapologetically large and undeniably cherished. In effect, Mora’s story captures a childlike perspective of awe and admiration, reminding readers of the larger-than-life women in their own lives.

Doña Flor: A Tall Tale about a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart (ages 6-8) is a “tall tale” that uses a series of hyperboles to create an exaggerated and fantastical story. Doña Flor is a beloved member of her community, assisting all her friends and neighbors in any way she can. She carries the children on her back when they’re late to school; she makes giant-sized tortillas for everyone to eat, and always functions as a conciliatory, amiable force amongst the village people. And, finally, when a little mountain lion frightens the village by roaring into a hollowed out log, the fearless Doña Flor finds the cat, makes him purr and smile instead of roar and menace, and ultimately teaches him how to get along with the other village animals and people.

Doña Flor’s character functions as the town’s matriarch, but also as the land’s goddess, reminiscent of the character of the Hungry Goddess in my previous post on women in Mexican folktale. Doña Flor creates a river with the swift stroke of her large finger, hugs and comforts the agitated and personified wind, and sustains life and peace amongst the community’s diverse inhabitants.
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