Federico and the Magi's Gift: A Latin American Christmas Story

Overview

IT'S THE EVE of the Epiphany, or the Feast of the Three Kings, and that means the Three Wise Men, or Magi, will ride through the night sky to deliver gifts to children. Four-year-old Federico has misbehaved, and now he is afraid the Magi won’t leave him any presents. As his brother and sister prepare hay and water for the Magi’s camels, Federico stays by himself: Will he get the caballito, or toy horse, he is hoping for? Will the Magi really come? This gorgeously illustrated storybook by Beatriz Vidal glows with ...
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Overview

IT'S THE EVE of the Epiphany, or the Feast of the Three Kings, and that means the Three Wise Men, or Magi, will ride through the night sky to deliver gifts to children. Four-year-old Federico has misbehaved, and now he is afraid the Magi won’t leave him any presents. As his brother and sister prepare hay and water for the Magi’s camels, Federico stays by himself: Will he get the caballito, or toy horse, he is hoping for? Will the Magi really come? This gorgeously illustrated storybook by Beatriz Vidal glows with warmth and holiday cheer, and readers everywhere will surely find themselves scanning the night skies for the Magi.
Praise for A Library for Juana:
“The text is perfectly complemented by Vidal’s brilliant, detailed illustrations that have the look and exactitude of Renaissance miniatures.”—School Library Journal
From the Hardcover edition.

Because he has misbehaved, four-year-old Federico is afraid the three kings will not bring him the toy horse he asked them for and, unable to sleep, he goes outside to await their arrival.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
It's Christmas way south of the border in Vidal's (A Library for Juana) entertaining tale of a popular holiday tradition, recalled from her childhood in Argentina. As the village children excitedly prepare for January 6-the Feast of the Three Kings, or Epiphany Day-Federico frets that, because he has misbehaved, the Magi who come bearing gifts for good boys and girls will forget him. But seeing is believing, and a secret, magical late-night visit to the garden-illuminated by Vidal's glittery constellations in a jewel-blue sky-puts Federico's mind at ease. Young readers will enjoy the blend of exotic and familiar elements. Ages 5-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
This is a charming story that has the side benefit of sharing with American children some holiday traditions from another part of the world. Most tantalizing may be the fact that in most of Latin America, Christmas comes at the start of summer vacation. So the illustrations are filled with flowers, green grass and children playing outdoors in shorts. Children in this part of the world also celebrate Epiphany Day in January, when the three wise men are said to have visited the baby Jesus. Children hope to receive presents in their shoes, which are left outside the bedroom door. Federico has misbehaved and is worried that he might not get the toy horse he has requested. He writes a letter promising to do better, but still can't sleep on this special night. He sits on a hillside outside his bedroom watching the sky "stretched huge above him, a deep blue dotted with millions of starts scattered in magical forms." The constellations are indeed drawn in dots all over the double page spread. In a bit of fantasy, Federico sees the wise men bringing his coveted toy horse. Beatriz Vidal sprinkles her text with words in Spanish, which are translated in a glossary. She also provides a helpful note about Latin American Christmas traditions. Resembling Mexican or other Latin American textiles, the illustrations do not have great depth but are filled with color and artistic design, both flowing vines and flowers as well as geometric shapes and patterns. Federico is an excellent addition to school holiday and multicultural collections. 2004, Alfred A Knopf, Ages 3 to 10.
—Karen Leggett
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-It is January 5 and 4-year-old Federico is worried that the Magi, the Three Wise Men, won't fill his shoes with gifts because he has been naughty. He stays awake to watch for them, and the sight of the colorful Magi sailing through the sky laden with gifts, including his yearned-for toy horse, reassures him enough to lull him to sleep. This story takes place in an unnamed country in the southern hemisphere, where the kids frolic in summer clothing and lush, exotic plants are in bloom. Vidal's meticulous watercolor-and-gouache paintings bring Federico's world alive and make his nighttime garden a truly magical place, beneath a sparkling, star-spangled sky. Federico is so sweet that children won't believe for a moment that his shoes will remain empty. An author's note explains Epiphany Day as it is celebrated in Latin American countries.-E. M. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In the first story that she has both written and illustrated, Vidal makes use of holiday traditions and legends from her childhood in Argentina. Her captivating story focuses on a family with three children who are waiting for the Wise Men to bring their gifts on the Feast of the Three Kings on January 6. The youngest child, Federico, goes out into the garden by himself at night to wait for the Magi, and there he sees all the constellations and then the toy-laden Wise Men flying through the sky on their camels. The engaging text includes a few Spanish words that are easy to understand in context. Vidal's intricately detailed watercolor and gouache paintings are delightfully refreshing, with a slightly flattened perspective and flowers and fruit trees on almost every page. The most memorable illustrations are the panoramic spreads of the garden, the constellations, and the Wise Men flying through the starry sky or standing outside the children's bedroom window to tuck the toys into their shoes left out on the windowsill. (author's note, glossary) (Picture book. 4-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375925184
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 9/14/2004
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.54 (w) x 11.30 (h) x 0.31 (d)

Meet the Author

Beatriz Vidal has illustrated many wonderful books for children; this is the first book that she has both written and illustrated. The author lives in New York, NY, and Argentina.
From the Hardcover edition.
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