HomeArticlesScottsdale author and illustrator wins 2019 Caldecott Honor

Scottsdale author and illustrator wins 2019 Caldecott Honor

Scottsdale artist Juana Martinez-Neal was recently awarded a 2019 Caldecott Honor for her author/illustrator debut book “Alma and How She Got Her Name.”

In the beautifully illustrated book, Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela wants to understand why she has such a large name. She learns about Sofia, the grandmother who loved books and flowers; Esperanza, the great-grandmother who longed to travel; José, the grandfather who was an artist; and more. The book is recommended for ages 4-8.

Martinez-Neal says the picture book, which has autobiographical elements, is about the fact that “we are everyone that came before us, and at the same time, we are uniquely ourselves.”

She hopes the book — published in April 2018 in both English and Spanish by Candlewick Press — gets families talking about their names and their ancestors. Publisher’s Weekly called the book “an origin story that envelops readers like a hug.”

Born in Lima, Peru, Martinez-Neal lives in Scottsdale with her husband, 6-year-old daughter and two teenage sons. She’s the daughter and granddaughter of artists, and was told in art college in Peru that illustration was her true gift.

Martinez-Neal is also the recipient of the 2018 Pura Belpré Medal for Illustration for “La Princesa and the Pea” written by Susan M. Elya, and has illustrated several upcoming children’s books including “Babymoon” (written by Hayley Barrett), “Fry Bread” (written by Kevin Mailliard), and “Swashby and the Sea” (written by Beth Ferry).


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