THE POWER OF A DREAM: MARIA FELICIANA ARBALLO, LATINA PIONEER is a nonfiction picture book, in which Feliciana Arballo, on an arduous journey from Mexico to California in 1775, follows her dream of a life without prejudice for her children and descendants.
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Primary Audience: Children ages 5 – 10 (grades 1-4), as well as parents and teachers who can use the book to teach children about this important part of U.S. and California history and how it relates to today’s issues of race, immigration, heritage, and the value of diversity.
Description: The story tells of a little-known part of U.S. history when, in 1775, some of the first Spanish settlers embarked on a colonization expedition from Mexico to California led by Captain Juan Bautista de Anza. THE POWER OF A DREAM focuses on Feliciana Arballo, a young widow who made the arduous four-month journey with her daughters: the infant Estaquia and four-year-old Tomása. Feliciana is referenced in the diaries of Anza and Father Pedro Font, who also went on the journey. Feliciana was an inspiring, brave, and remarkable woman, especially for the time in which she lived. She loved music and dancing, and she helped distract the colonists from the hardships they faced. As many immigrants do today, she followed her dream to have a better life in California for herself and her children, including eight more children she had with her second husband. Her children are part of her legacy: many of them played important roles in the history of California, as I discuss in one of my author notes. The other author note provides a background to the expedition itself.
Title: The Power of a Dream: Maria Feliciana Arballo, Latina Pioneer
Author: Linda Covella
Illustrator: Debbie Bolton
Genre: Nonfiction historical picture book
Publisher: MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing
Publication Date: 2/26/19
Grade Level*: 1-4 (Ages 5-10)
Also available in dyslexic font.
Further reading: Feliciana is a fictionalized character in my book Yakimali’s Gift, which is a novel about the 1775 expedition and 15-year-old Fernanda, who joins the expedition and finds not only romance, but truths that change the way she sees her family, her ancestry, and herself.