7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #779: Featuring Devon Holzwarth

h1 January 23rd, 2022 by jules

Want to see a beautiful new intergenerational picture book from Pura Belpré Award winner Ruth Behar and illustrator Devon Holzwarth? Tía Fortuna’s New Home: A Jewish Cuban Journey (Knopf) will be on shelves next week, and it tells the tender story of a girl named Estrella who learns about Sephardic Jewish culture from her aunt. Tía Fortuna — who, as a child, had to flee her home in Havana — must now leave her home near the sea in Miami; bulldozers are on their way to tear down the Seaway and construct a “fancy hotel.”

This heartfelt story follows the pair as they say goodbye to Tía Fortuna’s casita at the seaway, all the while Tía sharing some memories and reliving her past. They visit the shore and “breathe in the salty air,” and they play in the sand. Estrella doesn’t understand how Tía Fortuna can be so happy when she’s having to say goodbye to her home. “It’s not mañana yet,” she responds. “Let’s enjoy today.” Back at the seaway, they snack on warm borekas, Tía Fortuna explaining how it is they are “filled with hope”:

Because they are the food of your grandfathers’ grandfathers’ grandfathers and your grandmothers’ grandmothers’ grandmothers. They took them from Spain to Turkey to Cuba. Now we eat them here in Miami.

She adds, “We come from people who found hope wherever they went.”

Estrella and Tía Fortuna say goodbye to her home, Tía making sure to grab her good-luck mezuzah. They then head to la Casa de los Viejitos, Tía immediately mesmerized by a banyan tree she sees there. Inside, Tía makes new friends. And before Estrella leaves, Tía gives her a special gift.

An appended Author’s Note explains that Behar’s characters are fictional, though she is “lucky enough to have a lovely, real-life Sephardic aunt who lives in Miami Beach and serves me borekas whenever I visit.” This same note also includes information about the history and forced migrations of Sephardic Jews. There is also a glossary, given that many terms throughout the book are presented in Spanish.

Holzwarth’s fluid, graceful illustrations, reminiscent of the work of Christine Davenier, bring Estrella and Tía to life on the page. She beautifully composes spreads that incorporate both Tía’s childhood and present, packing in a lot of information in a visually satisfying way. The palette is one of appealing teals, cool coppers, and warm yellows that, in the end, make way for vivid golds (as you can see below).



(Two images above: Click either one to see spread in its entirety)



(Two images above: Click either one to see spread in its entirety)



(Two images above: Click second one to see spread in its entirety)


(Click cover to enlarge)


TÍA FORTUNA’S NEW HOME: A JEWISH CUBAN JOURNEY. Text copyright © 2022 by Ruth Behar. Jacket art and interior illustrations copyright © 2022 by Devon Holzwarth and reproduced by permission of the publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, New York.

* * * Jules’s Kicks * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

1) This piece from Margaret Renkl in the New York Times. Renkl forever.

2) Hearing from illustrators that they can use 7-Imp posts in classes with students.

3) The television adaptation of Station Eleven.

4) Simone Dinnerstein’s new album of Schumann, Satie, Philip Glass, and more.

5) A new tofu press. (It’s the little things.)

6) Going along for the wild ride that is the final season of Search Party.

7) This week, we went to our first concert since the pandemic — Patty Griffin in a tiny theater with all kinds of safety protocols. She played “Be Careful” (from, arguably, her most brilliant album), which didn’t make me cry because my daughter will soon be going to college OR ANYTHING:



What are YOUR kicks this week?

5 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #779: Featuring Devon Holzwarth”

  1. Hi Imps! Hello to Tia Fortuna, Estrella, Devon, and Ruth! Hope is important, and beautiful.

    Jules: Yay for 7-Imp classroom use! That’s fantastic! The song you shared made me think of Joni Mitchell and Jonatha Brooke.

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Entertainment
    2) Conversations
    3) Control
    4) Secure
    5) Okay
    6) Known
    7) Clear

  2. Love this beautiful book and the story it tells, thanks for singling out this line in particular, which is one to hold close: “We come from people who found hope wherever they went.” Really love Tia Fortuna talking to the banyan tress and the two illustrations of the starry night.

    Jules – hooray for a safe concert! What a gorgeous, moving song, now I’m listening to the whole album on spotify. Will add Station Eleven to my watch list, I loved that book, and I am sure I am one of a very large number of people whose thoughts turned to it in the early, scariest days of the pandemic. Yay for the joy of a new tofu press, the little things are such big bringers of joy.

    Little Willow – love all your kicks so much, and Known is my favorite, what a wonderful thing it is to be known.

    My kicks this week:
    1) This story of a coach in Bethel Park, PA telling his football team their workout was cancelled and the assignment was to shovel snow for neighbors who couldn’t do it themselves, and not accept money for it: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2022/01/19/snow-shovel-football-coach-pennsylvania/
    2) Got the first 2 mailings for the game Remember August, created by Shing Yin Khor, and I love it already.
    3) Sunny, cold, days.
    4) Long catch-up phone calls from two good friends on the same day. Must’ve been something in the air.
    5) Making hopeful plans for future in person getaways.
    6) Still loving my Quantum Leap rewatch. I’m in Season 3 and there were 5 seasons total, so this should last me a while.
    7) This podcast talking with middle schoolers about the pandemic and school. The kids are all right. https://www.amle.org/middle-school-walk-and-talk-a-podcast-series/
    7.5) Having Sunday morning coffee in bed while Daisy snoozes beside me.

    Have a great week Imps!

  3. Tia Fortuna’s New Home looks wonderful, Jules. Thank you for sharing. I think it’s marvelous illustrators are using 7-Imp for their classes. I can certainly understand why this is true.
    Little Willow—Secure is one of the most underrated words, but so important.
    Hooray for Sunday morning coffee in bed with Daisy, Rachel.

    My kicks:
    1. Grocery shopping–It’s so great to have fresh fruits and veggies
    2. Neighbor and son snowblowing and shoveling my drivewy
    3. Picture books
    4. Finishing a massive blog post
    5. Watching the Victoria series for the first time
    6. Receiving Matthew Cordell’s new enamel pins he is selling with the girl and wolf
    7. Walks and snuggles with Mulan

    Enjoy your week everyone.

  4. Little Willow, those are two musicians whose music I love. My friend Chris and I once saw Jonatha live and got to talk to her afterwards. … I like your thought-provoking kicks.

    Rachel, I enjoyed that novel too, but I’m AMAZED at how much of it I do not remember, watching the television adaptation. It’s a really well-done series. … Thanks for the links! Your second kick reminds me that we are doing Universal Yums, and we are really loving the packages that arrive monthly. Love that fourth kick. Hugs to Daisy. (P.S. I like that coach’s style.)

    Margie, those pins look GREAT! Your neighbors also sound great. Hugs to Mulan!

    Have a good week, you all!

  5. Jules: Fun!! I enjoy Jonatha.

    Rachel: I love time travel stories and yet I haven’t see Quantum Leap properly aside from one episode I randomly caught on TV once at some odd hour. Someday!

    Margie: I’ve seen a handful of episodes of Victoria and I liked it! I tend to like Jenna’s performances, including Doctor Who and The Cry.

    Hi Daisy! Hi Mulan!

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