Portuguese American Journal

Book | Calvin and the Sugar Apples | By Inês F. Oliveira – Editor’s Note

Ten-year-old Amelia has always had Calvin, her chinchilla friend, to talk to about her problems. But Calvin is no longer in his cage, and her parents just say he’s in a “better place.” When Amelia and her best friend, Camila, have an argument, and Amelia later misses the school talent show, she doesn’t know what to do. Without Calvin, who does she talk to about her disappointments at school? And who does she talk to about missing Calvin? Everything feels wrong without Calvin. And, just when Amelia thinks she’s completely alone, a new student, Iris, arrives and they begin to sort things out together. Amelia learns that expressing oneself can happen in different ways, but it always starts with talking it out. Calvin and the Sugar Apples is a relatable early reader that taps into important life lessons about friendship, grief, and talking through feelings.


“Debut author Oliveira’s lush prose brings the Portugal setting to life and portrays Amelia’s grief with realism. Her struggle to manage her emotions, as well as the deeper understanding she reaches of herself and the people around her, is endearing and rewarding. Balezza’s b&w pencil illustrations appear throughout, adding nuance to Amelia’s heightened feelings.” ― Publishers Weekly

“This book is beautifully written with a poetic feel that’s perfect for middle grade kids. Middle grade kids are often dealing with their big feelings about friendships, confidence, worthiness, loneliness, and sadness, and this story will capture not only theirs but anyone’s heart.” — Gloria Amescua, author of Child of the Flower-Song People,

“With language more poetic than prosaic, Oliveira tells Amelia’s story for all the kids out there who have trouble expressing themselves. It will break and heal your heart all at once.” — Cookie Hiponia, author of We Belong

“Plotted as crisply as a ballet, with all the down-to-earth details of family life, brimming with color and humorous asides, this is a book unafraid of dealing with the weight of grief that exists even within the young.” — Katherine Vaz, author of Saudade, Mariana (in six languages), Our Lady of the Artichokes, Fado & Other Stories, and Above the Salt (Flatiron Books/Macmillan, November 2023)

“Prepare to be charmed by Amelia, the endearing protagonist of Oliveira’s thoughtful debut. You’ll feel an instant connection with Amelia as she navigates the complexities of friendship and loss.: — Arianne Costner, author of My Life As A Potato

“This delicately told story deals with the weight of missing a treasured companion in a nuanced and balanced way through the eyes of a child who finds strength and comfort in new and unexpected ways. It will warm your heart!” — Tina Athaide, author of Orange for the Sunsets and Meena’s Mindful Moment

About the Autor

Inês F. Oliveira is a debut author from Portugal, where she lives by the sea with her husband and two children. She holds a master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University and committed many years to the technological field. That was before turning to words and writing. She believes words have the power to scatter light into children’s eyes and insists on reading aloud with her children every night.

About the Illustrator

Vanessa Balleza is a Venezuelan author and illustrator of children’s books, with a knack for capturing warm moments with vivid detail and imagination. She seeks to involve adults and children in fostering a lifelong love of reading and art, using the power of imagination and creativity as her tools. Vanessa lives in Saint Cloud, Florida, with her husband and two children.


Related Post – Interview

In this interview with Millicent Borges Accardi, for the Portuguese American Journal, Inês F. Oliveira speaks of what inspired her to write for children, her experience as a foreign student in the United States, what she loves about her native Portugal, and how much family means to her.


Book Details

Autor: Inês F. Oliveira

Illustrator: Vanessa Balleza

Publisher‏: ‎The Collective Book Studio

Publication Date: August 29, 2023

Language‏: ‎English

Hardcover‏: ‎240pp

Available @ Amazon.com

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