Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Mentor Text Author Study: Anika Aldamuy Denise

Author Anika Aldamuy Denise may live in a tiny town in the tiniest state but she has giant talent. Denise writes picture books in prose and rhyme and both as well as fiction stories. She and her illustrator husband, Christopher Denise, have collaborated on several books.


Kids love books about monsters and books about trucks and books about Halloween. And there's plenty of each on the market. In Monster Trucks, Nate Wragg (Illustrator), Denise combined monsters and trucks to create trucks that are monsters that go out for a nighttime race on a spooky speedway. Clever rhyme and character names like Frankentruck, Vampire Truck, Zombie Truck, and Werewolf Truck pull the readers into the story packed with action. When readers are introduced to the Little Blue Bus described as perky…and cute they learn she can take care of herself adding an element to girl power to the story.


Baking Day at Grandma's, a story about food and family with a heaping spoonful of heart is a collaboration between the author and her illustrator husband, Christopher Denise. The rhyme, rhythm, and refrain flow perfectly making this a fun read aloud. And the illustrations will make you want to hug a bear.

"It's baking day!
It's baking day!
It's baking day at Grandma's!"

Pigs Love Potatoes, Christopher Denise (Illustrator), is another story about food and family but it's also a rhyming and counting book that adds another layer of educational content.


Writers often hear that a well-developed character is important to a story and character driven stories are popular with editors. In Starring Carmen!, Lorena Alvarez Gomez (Illustrator), everything about Carmen shouts DIVA!
Any young extrovert with a flair for the dramatic or the exhausted parents of one will appreciate how Denise developed the character of Carmen. And the character’s personality is further developed with the help of her supporting cast, her brother Eduardo and her parents. Everything Carmen says and does show a star is born!

"Later, at dinner
Carmen announces an ENCORE!
“You wear us our, queridia,”
says Carmen’s mom.
Sí, Carmenita, we need a break
from show business,” says Carmen’s dad."

In the sequel, Lights, Camera, Carmen!, Lorena Alvarez Gomez (Illustrator), Carmen’s character expanded her aspirations. And in staying true to her character, a disappointment only leads Carmen to a new opportunity in entertainment.

Hermanito, I’ve made a decision. “I’m
Taking a break from the theater to pursue and film career.
“What’s a film career?” asks Eduardo.
“My destiny!” says Carmen.
“All I have to do is win the Dino-Krispies contest.”

Bella and Stella Come Home, Christopher Denise (Illustrator), is about a little girl named Bella who is filled with apprehension as she explores her new home on moving day. Stella is her stuffed elephant who turns into a real elephant at the new house. Written from the point of view of Bella, the main character speaks to the reader. Through the stuffed elephant Stella, Bella compares her old home with the new. The illustrations bring the elephant to life and Bella’s fears. When Stella expresses a concern, Bella is the one that provided comfort. Anika Denise creates a character that is very relatable to children and especially those who have had to deal with the emotions of leaving familiar surroundings behind.

“We look out the screen door into the garden.
Our old garden had an oak tree in the back.
This one only has shrubs and grass.
Stella thinks every garden should have an oak tree.
I agree.”


Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré, Paola Escobar (Illustrator) is a narrative nonfiction picture book biography about the well-known librarian, Pura Belpré’, the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York City who brought diverse stories to her library. Denise begins the story with Belpré leaving her home in San Juan and traveling to New York on a visit bringing her words and memories of her abuela’s folktales she heard around a tamarind tree. Planting story seeds is the metaphor used throughout the book to show how as a librarian Belpré’s storytelling grew into books and as a published author her stories spread throughout New York and beyond reaching more and more children.

“When Pura’s story is done,
each child makes a wish on the candle,
and, with a wisp of air…
La vela is blown out.
Now Pura has a wish too:
to plant her story seeds throughout the land.”

This book is beautifully illustrated; the endpapers and backmatter are also a work of art.


Look for these books from Anika Aldamuy Denise releasing later this year. Bunny in the Middle celebrates middle children which is a great hook and character to develop. IThe Love Letter, best friendHedgehog, Bunny, and Squirrel each find a love letter... 

Both books are certainly on my reading for research booklist.



  1. Such wonderful books! Anika is so talented, and a lovely person too. Look at those gorgeous upcoming titles!

    1. Right? She can write anything. I hope to meet her in person one day.

  2. Wow her books seem all so different! I'm not familiar with this author so thanks for introducing me to her. Looks like i can get Pigs Love Potatoes, Baking Day at Grandma's and Bella and Stella come home from my library. Looking forward to reading them!

    1. Welcome! Yes, Anika is very talented and can write anything. :)

  3. Anika is a lovely #kidlit lady with wonderful books!

  4. Wow! I've reviewed one of the Carmen books and LOVED it! She's such a great character! But I haven't read any of these others. The cover illustration for Baking Day is so perfect, I want to hug it. I like seeing how these books have multiple layers, always something that makes a MS stand out from the crowd. Thanks for this post, Keila!

    1. I love, love, love that Carmen! I think you would enjoy all her work Jilanne. Anika is such a versatile writer.

  5. Thank you, Keila, for sharing Anika's brilliant stories with us. Terrific mentor texts!

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Great new mentor texts to me. The only familiar one is the biography of Pura Belpre'. There's an award named after her given to diverse books. Now I know why.

  8. A wonderful collection of mentor text titles! I've read so many of them and appreciate reading your thoughts on them.

  9. I like what you guys are up too. Such clever work and reporting! Carry on the superb works guys I’ve incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it will improve the value of my site :) find more resources here

  10. This design is spectacular! You certainly know how to keep a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost...HaHa!) Excellent job. I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool!
    the lead generation company