Bella is about to go on the trip of a lifetime. No, it does not involve planes, trains, or automobiles, but it may involve a horse, an odd little cart, and a weird bird, among other surprises.
Oh, and a bit of magic.
While going through old things in the attic of the family home, Bella finds – and oh, my! – falls into another time and place, where she learns that perhaps she can be more than the quiet little sister and the shy student, easy prey for a school bully.
In this magical place she meets ancestors, beings of legend and lore, Death, and most important, she meets herself and learns her potential. And she learns perhaps the most important lesson of all: to be remembered is a blessing; to be olvidado, forgotten, is to let one’s culture and language slip away.
She meets fore bearers she never knew, or scarcely knew in their lifetimes. At nearly 15, coming into the family late in her parents’ marriage, she sees no connection to her past. Nor does she see the threads that bind her family together, feeling too often the outsider.
The legendary characters she meets on her journey teach her the importance of retaining a connection to the cuentos, the stories, that are the backdrop of her culture, the art, music, and literature that frame who she is.
In the land of yesterday she encounters beings – human and fantastical – who by turns protect her, teach her, and caution her to remember their cuentos and share them with a careless society that has forgotten their value.
Dwarves and giants, witches and snakes, tricksters and Death herself leave a lasting mark on Bella. Reading the story of her journey is charming, yes, but it is also a cautionary tale about remembering and sharing one’s culture and language, not as an afterthought, but as a vibrant part of life.
Bella Collector of Cuentos is a tale told by those who do not want to be forgotten. It is also a magical tale about a girl coming into her own.