Circle of Wonder: A Native American Christmas Story

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"Circle of Wonder centers upon a world that is so dear to me as to be engraved on my memory forever. I was a boy of twelve when my parents and I moved to Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico in 1946. . . . It was a place of singular beauty and wonder and delight. My first Christmas there was beyond my imagining. . . . The night sky was radiant; the silence was vast and serene. In all the years of my life I have not gone farther into the universe. I have not known better the essence of peace and the sense of eternity. I have come no closer to the ...

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Overview

"Circle of Wonder centers upon a world that is so dear to me as to be engraved on my memory forever. I was a boy of twelve when my parents and I moved to Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico in 1946. . . . It was a place of singular beauty and wonder and delight. My first Christmas there was beyond my imagining. . . . The night sky was radiant; the silence was vast and serene. In all the years of my life I have not gone farther into the universe. I have not known better the essence of peace and the sense of eternity. I have come no closer to the understanding of the most holy."--N. Scott Momaday

A mute Indian child has an extraordinary experience one Christmas when, following a figure who seems to be his beloved dead grandfather, he becomes part of a circle in which he, animals, nature, and all the world join in a moment of peace and good will.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Drawing on childhood memories of Christmas in a New Mexican village, Momaday produces a poetic story that skillfully blends Christian and Native American traditions. On Christmas Eve, Tolo, a lonely mute boy, is drawn by the spirit of his beloved grandfather to a bonfire in the mountains, where he shares a ``circle of wonder and good will'' with an elk, a wolf and an eagle. His heart fills with love for his family, for the Christ child and for all creation, and in this brief glimpse of the interconnectedness of all life his loneliness is banished forever. Features Momaday's singular, impressionistic artwork. All ages. (Sept.)
Bloomsbury Review
Both story and illustrations in this wonderful book sprang from Pulitzer Prize-winning Momaday's remembrances of his childhood on the Jemez Reservation, particularly during the Christmas season. He tells the story of a young mute named Tolo who shares the spirituality of the mountains and meadows with his grandfather. Upon his grandfather's death, Tolo plunges into loneliness. The frenzy of the Christmas season reawakens him, and Tolo follows the vision of his late grandfather back into the meadow where he is empowered by other creatures of the wild. Tolo transcends his own sorrow to understand the Christmas spirit.
Book Talk
A truly beautiful book, by a great author. . . . Every youngster (and oldster!) will be enthralled by the paintings of Momaday (Kiowa, by way of Jemez) and his tale of a Pueblo Christmas.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826327963
  • Publisher: University of New Mexico Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2001
  • Pages: 44
  • Product dimensions: 8.89 (w) x 10.34 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author


N. Scott Momaday won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1969 for his novel House Made of Dawn. Several of his books are available from UNM Press, including The Way to Rainy Mountain. He lives in Santa Fe.
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