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Martina Has Too Many Tías

Illustrated by Sara Palacios



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About The Book

A quiet girl overwhelmed by her rambunctious family finds a magical land of solitude only to discover what truly makes a home a home in this lively and magical bilingual picture book that reimagines the beloved Caribbean folktale “La Cucaracha Martina.”

Martina does not like parties. Parties are full of tías with their flashy fashions and boom-and-bellow laughter that’s too much for quiet Martina. At least with all that noise, no one notices when she slips away. She finds herself in a magical place: a warm, familiar island where she can finally play in peace and quiet. Martina is home at last—or is she?

About The Author

Photograph Emma Otheguy

Emma Otheguy is the author of several books for young readers, including the picture books A Sled for Gabo and Martina Has Too Many Tías, the bilingual picture book Martí’s Song for Freedom, and the middle grade novels Sofía Acosta Makes a SceneCousins in the Time of MagicSilver Meadows Summer, and, with Adam Gidwitz, The Madre de Aguas of Cuba, part of the Unicorn Rescue Society series. Visit her at

About The Illustrator

Photograph © Sara Palacios

Sara Palacios is the recipient of a Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor for Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match and the illustrator of several other picture books, including A Song of Frutas, The Flying Girl, and Martina Has Too Many Tías. Sara graduated with a degree in graphic design and went on to earn BFA and MFA degrees in illustration from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. A native of Mexico, Sara now lives in San Francisco. Visit her at

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (June 20, 2023)
  • Length: 40 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781534445369
  • Grades: P - 3
  • Ages: 4 - 8

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Raves and Reviews

* "A seemingly simple story that speaks to the importance of water conservation. . . [Engle] works in the delight this neighborhood experiences with an understated but resonant message that is never preachy or pitying. Sua’s illustrations made on painted paper depict the liveliness with brilliant greens and majestic blues. . . Sprinkles of Spanish add to the sense of place. . . Engle packs so much into just a few powerful sentences. An excellent choice."

School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

"A vibrant world of forests and oceans awaits a young girl escaping her home in this reimagining of the Cuban folktale Martina and the Beautiful Cockroach . . . Representation for children who get overstimulated by noise is lovingly paired with the variety of brown skin tones in Martina’s family as well as the inclusion of cherished family members living joyfully in large bodies."

The Bulletin of the Center

"Otheguy riffs on the Caribbean folktale “La Cucaracha Martina” in this emotionally aware story about family and self. . . . Circular forms suffuse Palacios’s festive digital renderings of Martina’s magical journey toward family connection."

Publishers Weekly

"In this expert picture-book riff on the classic Caribbean folktale “La Cucaracha Martina,” Otheguy celebrates big families with room for all types of dispositions . . . Colorful collages, digitally rendered, bring a sense of vibrancy. Palacios’s visual representation of the cacophony of sounds in the overlays—in particular the page with all three tías—is bright and loud; you can feel the noise pop off the page."

Horn Book Magazine

"As readers turn the pages, the vivid hues and simplistic yet textured art will draw them into the story, bringing Martina’s home to life in full color with seamlessly integrated bilingual text and vivid visuals showcasing the rich culture of the Caribbean within Martina's nostalgic imagination. Whether they're swept up in the narration or marveling at the details of each scene, little ones will be captivated by the vibrant energy and cultural nuances that infuse every page of this tale."


* "In this sweet homage to the Caribbean folktale “La Cucaracha Martina,” a young girl comes to cherish familial love. Colorful, digitally rendered illustrations have a three-dimensional, collage feel, exuding warmth and light and capturing a child’s world of imagination. . . An affirming story that feels like a warm hug from a beloved relative."

– Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Awards and Honors

  • Kirkus Best Picture Books of the Year

Resources and Downloads

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More books from this author: Emma Otheguy

More books from this illustrator: Sara Palacios