From School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-A story set during the final months of Mexican rule that incorporates historical events and the many factions of early California-americanos, mexicanos, indios, californios-into it. Orphaned at age five, Rosa and her younger brother were cared for at the Mission Rafael by Padre Ygnacio before they became servants at the large Medina rancho. The children are treated benevolently, often as family. However, Rosa longs for knowledge about her own parents-a secret that comes to light at the conclusion. The book includes a historical note, black-and-white reproductions from the time period, and a glossary of Spanish terms. (Unfortunately, there is no pronunciation guide.) A current map of the U.S. shows the locations of San Francisco and Sonoma Valley; however, historical locations and Baja California are not marked. The strength of this well-researched book lies in the inclusion of so much factual information. However, the quick pace of the plot allows for little depth of character or emotional reaction to the events. None of the characters plays a strong or active role in the historical happenings. Rosa primarily reports the events that take place around her. Despite the book's shortcomings, it will be a popular follow-up to other "Dear America" titles (Scholastic).-Carolyn Janssen, Children's Learning Center of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 5-8. Maria Rosalia de Milagros, a 13-year-old orphan working on a California rancho in 1846, picks up a discarded diary that changes her life forever. She writes in secret--no one knows she can read and write--and the journal becomes a "refuge in a sea of work" and a powerful tool that helps her make sense of her life. She writes about the hard work; the rare pleasures of church festivals; her coworkers and wealthy employers; and the disturbing increase of norteamericanos
coming to California. Some of them, like kindly Senor Johnson, become friends and neighbors; others steal land and are eager to appropriate Alta California for the U.S. Maria's most heartfelt writing, however, is about being orphaned. Garland has cast Maria as a sturdy heroine, whose love for Alta California infuses her story with a strong sense of place, and the historical details are both accurate and interestingly woven into the story. Like other books in the popular Dear America series, this one is illustrated; it also includes a glossary of Spanish terms, an epilogue, and a lengthy historical note. A worthy addition. Jean FranklinCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved