Home for Navidad

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Rosa is ten years old, and she lives with her grandmother, her little brother, and her uncle in a small town in Mexico. But her mother lives in the United States, trying to earn much-needed money to send home to her family. So Rosa has not seen her mother in three years. She misses her mama all the time, but most particularly in the weeks leading up to Christmas. This year, Rosa hopes her mother will finally be able to come home for Navidad and stay with her in Santa Catarina ...

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Overview

Rosa is ten years old, and she lives with her grandmother, her little brother, and her uncle in a small town in Mexico. But her mother lives in the United States, trying to earn much-needed money to send home to her family. So Rosa has not seen her mother in three years. She misses her mama all the time, but most particularly in the weeks leading up to Christmas. This year, Rosa hopes her mother will finally be able to come home for Navidad and stay with her in Santa Catarina forever.

Ten-year-old Rosa hopes that her mother, whom she has not seen for three years, will leave her job in New York and come home to Santa Catarina, Mexico, for Christmas and maybe even longer. Includes a glossary of Spanish words used.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Ziefert's unadorned story, sprinkled with Spanish words... is brought to life by Cohen's remarkable color-saturated, Behelmans-like paintings." Horn Book

"...a beautiful new addition to the shelf of multicultural Christmas stories." Kirkus Reviews

"Cohen's childlike yet painterly pictures...are saturated with deep and vivid color and vibrate with feeling and intensity." School Library Journal

"...the sunny ethos established by both text and picture is one of child-like faith rewarded." The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Spanish words are part of the story, with a glossary at the end, and the combination of simple words and bold vibrant art relays the wrenching family separation from the child's viewpoint." Booklist, ALA

Publishers Weekly
As in Miracle of the First Poinsettia (reviewed above), this tale stars a struggling Mexican family, but it takes a more mundane approach. The miracle here is that after three years cleaning homes in Nueva York, Rosa's mother is coming home for Navidad and, best of all, to stay. Despite the title, Christmas itself, oddly, seems to be somewhat of an afterthought; most of the attention here turns toward the difficult and disrupted life the family leads. Like Negrin, Cohen (The Fifth Name) paints in saturated fiesta-bright colors that have an instant appeal. But his off-putting mix of childlike lines and randomly occurring, more sophisticated techniques fares less well; for example, when he juxtaposes naive draftsmanship of Rosa and the rooms she enters with detailed, inked-on images of the furnishings within those rooms, the two visual styles cancel each other out. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Ten -year old Rosa longs to have her mother back home. Mama has been working in the United States for three years as a house cleaner. She sends money back to her family in Mexico from New York. Rosa is living with her grandmother, her uncle, and little brother. She helps pick corn in the fields before going to school with her brother. After school, she goes with her Abuela to the river to wash clothes. The longing this little girl feels is palpable. Readers can see that Rosa is in a loving environment. The vivid paintings have a magical quality about them. Colors swirl around her: lush green fields, blue skies, orange dirt roads and colorful clothes. But her mother is always on her mind. Inside the front and back covers of this book are Mexican and U. S. stamps, representing the constant correspondence between loved ones living in two different countries. Woven into the text are two letters; one from Mama to Rosa, and Rosa's response. Spanish words are interspersed appropriately throughout the text, and there is a translation list at the back of the book. The experience of Rosa and her mother is one that has existed in this land of immigrants since its inception. The text and illustrations capture the sadness that separation brings, and the hope for reuniting with a loved one. Rosa's story begins as she is waking one morning to the sound of her grandmother grinding corn. At the end of the story, Rosa is in bed again, happily dreaming of her mother's impending return for Christmas, "a day for miracles." 2003, Walter Lorraine Books/Houghton Mifflin, Ages 4 to 8.
—Jeanne K. Pettenati, J.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-Ten-year-old Rosa lives with her grandmother, brother, and uncle in a small Mexican village. Her mother works as a cleaning woman in New York, and has not been home in three years. When Rosa receives Mama's letter promising to come for Navidad, she has a dream that it comes about. The first-person narrative, in English sprinkled with many Spanish words (there is a glossary), conveys Rosa's hope and yearning. The story ends with her dream that Mama returns for good. Cohen's childlike yet painterly pictures-somewhat reminiscent of Ludwig Bemelmans's work-are saturated with deep and vivid color and vibrate with feeling and intensity.-S. P. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Cohen's reds, greens, and blues practically glow, and the sharp black outlines that he lays on them, particularly to highlight the human characters, recall both children's drawings and the winning nonchalance of Ludwig Bemelmans. Add Ziefert's tender, deliberately paced tale of a young Mexican girl's longing for her mother, now three years in the US earning money as a housecleaner, and the result is a beautiful new addition to the shelf of multicultural Christmas stories. While Rosa's daily life--picking corn with Tio Pancho, washing clothes in the river with Abuela--is harsher than that of most American children, Ziefert's mood is nostalgic and upbeat, less disturbing to youngsters than Francisco Jimenez's more intense and moving The Christmas Gift / El regalo de Navidad (2000). The accepted sadness of the family separation, the excitement of receiving a letter from her mother, even the math lesson requiring Rosa's class to calculate how many weeks a man will need to save for a plane ticket--again suggesting broken families--combine to make Rosa's longing very real. Children will strongly identify with her dream, at the end of the long day, of her mother wrapping her in her arms on Christmas day. (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618349760
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/29/2003
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.70 (w) x 11.90 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Meet the Author

Harriet Ziefert draws on a true story told to her by Santiago Cohen for the text of this Christmas tale. This is her first picture book collaboration with him, though they know each other from their many years in neighboring New Jersey towns.

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