Gathering The Sun: An Alphabet in Spanish and English

Gathering The Sun: An Alphabet in Spanish and English


Best-selling Book!
Once Upon A World Book Award, Simon Weisenthal Center, 1998
NCSS/CBC Notable Book in the area of Social Studies, National Council of Social Studies and the Children’s Book Council
Pura Belpré Honor Book, American Library Association 1997
NCTE Notable Book in Language Arts, National Council of Teachers of English
“Pick of the Lists” American Booksellers Association
California Readers’ Collection, Elementary List
Commended List, Center for Latin American Studies


The author’s many years of work with migrant families inspired this poetic ABC of the fields, in two languages, and Simón Silva’s magnificent illustrations, in bold colors, have created a work of art to be enjoyed by children and adults alike. (K-12).


Suni Paz has drawn from her extensive knowledge of Latin American folklore for the inspirational music that turns the poems in this book into memorable songs, an irresistible invitation to listen, to enjoy, to sing along.


Some of the most heartening experiences of my life have been my work with Migrant Farm Working families. I have described the academic results of sharing high quality children’s books with Migrant parents and inviting them to create books with their children in Pájaro Valley, California in the book A Magical Encounter: Use of Latino Literature in the Classroom. I have described my work with farm working parents, and the learning I derived from it, in my memoirs, Vivir en dos idiomas.

The poems of Gathering the Sun were born out of these enriching experiences. Simón Silva, who knew intimately the life in the fields during his childhood and has drawn from the heritage of the great Mexican muralists provided strong and magnificent illustrations that have made this book the true homage to the farm workers lives and struggles that I dreamt to create.

It has given me unsurpassable joy to sign this book for golden anniversaries of grandparents and for birthday gifts, for quinceañeras, newborn babies and babies yet to be born, realizing that in each case the book is a symbol of the strength, the resilience, the determination, the dignity and the profound love of family of those who work in the fields and whose labor allows us all to live.

Suni’s unique voice and her masterful compositions have allowed the words in this book to transcend their birth as poems becoming unforgettable songs. My gratitude to Suni and Simón, for allowing this homage to César Chávez and all campesinos to be as inspiring as his example and their lives.


School Library Journal

Pre-School-Grade 5. An alphabet book with exceptional illustrations and excellent poetry that gives voice to the experience of Hispanic agricultural workers. Each letter is matched with a Spanish word (for example, “Arboles” for “A”) and accompanied by a poem in both Spanish and English that describes how the plant, fruit, vegetable, person, or feeling functions in the lives of these workers. Zubizarreta’s English translations are informed and graceful, but predictably cannot match the Spanish originals in rhythm, assonance, or meter. Silva’s vibrant, double-page, gouache illustrations are reminiscent of the artwork of Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco. The colors are brilliant, and the scope has a certain larger-than-life sense to it. This is a book that begs to be read aloud to all students, whether they are Spanish speaking or not. The sound of the poems will draw them in. The touching elegy for Cesar Chavez successfully imparts the impact of a heroic man on his people. Whether used to show the plight of migrant workers or the pride Hispanic laborers feel in their heritage, this is an important book. –Ann Welton, Terminal Park Elementary School, Auburn, WA Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Ages 5-8. Using the Spanish alphabet as a template, Ada has written 27 poems that celebrate both the bounty of the harvest and the Mexican heritage of the farmworkers and their families. The poems, presented in both Spanish and English, are short and simple bursts of flavor: “Árboles/Trees,” “Betabel/Beet,” “César Chávez,” etc. Silva’s sun-drenched gouache paintings are robust, with images sculpted in paint. Brimming with respect and pride, the book, with its mythic vision of the migrant farm worker, will add much to any unit on farming or Mexican American heritage. Annie Ayres

Curled Up with a Good Kid’s Book

Tapping into a rich cultural history of people working the land and harvesting its bounty, Gathering the Sun is brilliantly illustrated, a delightful adventure into the world of language and art, of “simple words and sun-drenched paintings.” More than just an alphabet book, it teaches children the basics of language in the context of family and tradition.

The illustrated alphabet is Spanish, text in both Spanish and English: “arboles (trees), “the companions of my childhood”; duraznos (peaches), “like a gentle caress in the palm of my hand”; tomates (tomatoes), “red tomato in the kitchen, in the little tacos my godmother loves to make”; zanahoria (carrot), “The carrot hides beneath the earth. After all, she knows the sun’s fiery color by heart.”

Through the text by Alma Flor Ada and wonderful art of Simon Silva, beginning readers explore orchards and fields beside those who plant and nurture the crops, the book dedicated to the living memory of César Chávez: “Your example and your words sprout anew in the field rows as seedlings of quiet hope.”

In a joyful celebration of tilling, toiling and the language of nature’s bounty, the text is bilingual, with particular attention to the harmony of words and the images wrought from the earth’s palette, the cycle of growth and those who labor to carry their fruits from field to kitchen, from the hands that tend the plants to those who prepare the spicy and textured foods that grace the tables of grateful families: “In the field row lies a seed, all tucked in like a baby in the crib.”

Gathering the Sun is nothing less than stunning, saturated with color and the shared dignity of hard work, a reflection of the author and illustrator’s appreciation for all aspects of growth, from field to heart to spirit, acknowledging “honor and pride, family and friends, history and heritage, and… the bounty of the harvest.”
–Luan Gaines/2006 for Curled Up with a Good Kid’s Book

Whole World of ABCs and 123s
In her selection of bilingual books for reading to children, librarian Ana-Elba Pavon said of this beautiful, verse abecedario: it is “a tribute to working in the fields. A collection of poems, it includes Cesar Chavez, individual fruits and vegetables, and other Latino symbols. Use the poem under the letter “O” for “Orgullo” or “Pride” as a chant with your audience. Have them repeat each verse of the poem after you read it.” Absolutely!

Gathering the Sun: An Alphabet in Spanish and English by the prolific author Alma Flor Ada is by definition an alphabet book, but is a tribute to working in the fields. A collection of poems, it includes Cesar Chavez, individual fruits and vegetables, and other Latino symbols. Use the poem under the letter “O” for “Orgullo” or “Pride” as a chant with your audience. Have them repeat each verse of the poem after you read it.– Marjorie Coughlan


The Children’s Literature Lover’s Book of Lists by Joanna Sullivan on page 64, page 278, and page 333
Valerie & Walter’s Best Books for Children 2nd Ed : A Lively, Opinionated Guide by Walter M. Mayes on page 41, and Index
In Sweet Company: Conversations with Extraordinary Women about Living a Spiritual Life by Margaret Wolff on page 69
The Reading Teacher’s Book of Lists (J-B Ed: Book of Lists) by Edward Bernard Fry on page 159
“Let’s Read : A Complete Month-by-Month Activities Program for Beginning Readers” by Elizabeth Crosby Stull in Back Matter

Image Gallery


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