Texas Institute of Letters Finalist
Austin Public Library Award for Best Children's Book
Maria Paints the Hills
Real-life Santa Fe painter Maria Hesch (1909–1994) painted innocent narratives of her life as a young girl growing up along the river and next to her grandfather’s alfalfa field that linked the family to the nearby church. In Maria Paints the Hills,, acclaimed writer Pat Mora imagines the story of the young Maria revealed in the paintings. She is a sensitive child, alive to the colors and shapes of her world, a child who makes of her solitary playtime the companionship of her budding artful imagination.
“Look, Tia,” Maria says excitedly. “See the caballitos galloping in the fire? The flames look like little horses.” Pat Mora reminds us that children are the original artists.
“I was born in Santa Fe,” writes painter Maria Hesch, recalling her first stirrings as an artist, “where I lived with my widowed mother and next door to my Grandpa. It was from them that I learned the stories, traditions, and customs that I have tried to portray in my paintings.”
“This little book is both children’s literature and history. The book includes color images of 17 paintings executed by Maria Hesch … A concurrent narrative of Maria’s imaginary life penned by Pat Mora, a respected author of children’s books, paints a charming verbal portrait from the perspective of a little girl….Maria Hesch (1909-1994) was a self-taught artist and is known as Santa Fe’s Grandma Moses. —New Mexico Magazine
“Maria Paints the Hills … offers readers a nostalgic look at Santa Fe. Illustrated with Maria Hesch’s paintings created in the early twentieth century, the picture book tells the story of a little girl whose dream of becoming an artist moves closer to reality when she receives her first box of paints.”—Albuquerque Journal North
“Maria Paints the Hills is a warm and playful book to read over and over so as to savor the magical imaginations of two gifted artists. Hold this book on your lap so everyone can enjoy Maria Hesch’s brilliant portrayals of our New Mexican way of life and Pat Mora’s words that flow like honey.”—Rudolfo Anaya