Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"Fiesta-bright" art ignites this "joyous" tale of a Mexican American family's Christmastime trip to the parents' home in Mexico, said PW in a starred review. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Mary Sue Preissner
Join Carlos and his Mexican-American family as they leave their southern California home to celebrate the Christmas holidays in his parents' home village in Mexico. Discover the magic along with Carlos and his sister about the "specialness" of family, no matter where they may be. Diaz not only designed the bold artwork, but the print for the text. It appears that each full page is a brightly photographed hodge-podge of Christmas ornaments/decorations, with a drawn illustration (which accompanies the text) of the families' journey overlaid on the photograph.
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
The award-winning team of Bunting and Diaz blend their talents to tell the story of Carlos, a boy whose family takes time from migrant work in the US to visit their home in Mexico. Carlos and his older sister are confused as to why his parents left home, chose such a difficult life, and want to return to a place doesn't seem so special. After a long night of warm conversation with their Mexican family, Carlos and his sister watch their parents dancing barefoot in the street of the small village. Their sore shoulders and bad knees are temporarily forgotten in the magic mood of the night and Carlos, watching them, understands their sacrifice for the promise of opportunity. Bunting's characters lead children thorough the emotional levels of the situation, while Diaz creates a celebration of illustration accenting the joys of family warmth found in a small Mexican village brightened by Christmas festivities.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 1-3Mama and Papa are ecstatic to be going home to Mexico for the Christmas holidays, but Carlos and his sisters, who have been raised in a labor camp on a farm in the U.S., have difficulty understanding their parents' longing for this unfamiliar place. After the old station wagon crosses the border, however, excitement builds, and when they finally reach La Perla, a noisy and joyous family reunion takes place. After all the guests have left, Mama and Papa steal outside and dance barefoot in the street. Their amazed children then begin to understand the sacrifices their parents have made for them. Bunting conveys her message softly, leaving the major role to Diaz. His distinctive style is well suited to the setting and the mood of the book. End papers feature closeup photographs of brilliant "artesanias Mexicanas," decorative objects, figures, and other popular arts found in the market places. This "art popular" then forms the background on which the paintings and type are placed. Diaz uses color, shape, and line to evoke the anticipation of the trip and the joy of arrival. Even the layout effectively mirrors the emotional energy and tension of the story. A lovely journey home for Mama and Papa and their children, and for readers, a journey to understanding.Barbara Kiefer, Teachers College, Columbia University, NY