La Noche Buena: A Christmas Story

Overview

Nina is visiting her grandmother in Miami for Christmas. Usually she spends it in snowy New England with her mother and her family, but this year is different. She isn’t certain what to make of a hot and humid holiday, until she learns the traditions of her father’s side of the family from her Cuban grandmother. She helps prepare for the evening and takes part in all their traditions—the intricate cooking for the feast, the dancing, the music, and the gathering of relatives and neighbors. It all comes together ...

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Overview

Nina is visiting her grandmother in Miami for Christmas. Usually she spends it in snowy New England with her mother and her family, but this year is different. She isn’t certain what to make of a hot and humid holiday, until she learns the traditions of her father’s side of the family from her Cuban grandmother. She helps prepare for the evening and takes part in all their traditions—the intricate cooking for the feast, the dancing, the music, and the gathering of relatives and neighbors. It all comes together for a Noche Buena that Nina will never forget.

Antonio Sacre and Angela Dominguez have created a wonderful story that everyone who celebrates Christmas will enjoy. The book includes a glossary of Spanish words.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
An initially anxious narrator visits the Cuban side of her family in Miami for the holidays, but Christmas with palm trees and no snow feels strange. Easing herself into new experiences, she describes the family's traditions: "I bring countless jars of marinade to the men, who pour it over the roasting pig." Dominguez's bright acrylics convey calm and joy, while Sacre's visceral prose captures the voice of a child gaining assurance, as well as the kindness and mutual respect of a loving extended family. Ages 4–8. (Nov.)
Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
Nina has always spent Christmas with her mother and her up-north relatives but this Christmas she is visiting her father and Cuban grandmother in Miami. Nina soon gets caught up in the preparations for La Noche Buena, the night before Christmas. Her aunts and girl cousins gather in Mimi's kitchen several days before. They make the marinade and Nina takes it Uncle Tito's house for the pig roast. Family gatherings, storytelling, and a great feast with neighbors precede attendance at the Misa del Gallo. After midnight Mass, the family gathers for a party that lasts until sunrise. Nina has had such a good time that she asks if she can come every year—and bring her up-north cousins, too. The illustrations, done in acrylics, exude the warmth and excitement of this family gathering. The climate and the setting are realized in the pictures of the orange and palm trees, style of homes, and short-sleeved shirts. A double-page spread of Nina enjoying the feast captures the essence of the story. Sacre's story breathes life into the Cuban Christmas custom. A glossary of Spanish words and phrases is at the back of the book. This contemporary story is a good addition to the winter holiday bookshelf. Teachers who are presenting festive traditions from around the world will want to share this with their classrooms. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—Sprinkled with Spanish words, this book introduces readers to the preparations for a Cuban-American family's Christmas Eve feast. Nina goes to visit her paternal grandmother in Miami's Little Havana ("It's my dad's turn to have me, and he wants me to see how the Cuban side of my family celebrates the holidays") even though she would rather be up north with her mother and "lots of snow!" Her father has told her that La Noche Buena is the best night of the year in many Cuban homes. For three days Nina helps her abuela as the women in the family prepare the marinade for the roast pig. When the big night finally arrives, the girl experiences all the joys of eating a magnificent meal with her family, attending Misa del Gallo (midnight mass), and then celebrating with music and dancing. A glossary of Spanish words and phrases is included. Though flat at times, the acrylic illustrations have colorful hues to fill each page with scenes of Nina's adventures. A warm bit of holiday diversity.—Diane Olivo-Posner, Los Angeles Public Library
Kirkus Reviews

Nina is a young Cuban-American girl who arrives in Miami just before Christmas to spend the holiday with her father's family. Nina lives in a northern state with her mother and has never experienced Christmas in Little Havana. Her father won't arrive until Christmas Day, so Nina has to adjust by herself. With the help of her grandmother and extended family, Nina learns about Cuban Christmas traditions, including the customs of La Noche Buena, Christmas Eve. She enjoys eating special treats at all the neighborhood houses, attends midnight mass with her family and participates in the all-night party with dancing that follows. Spanish words and phrases are integrated into the story, defined in context or in the appended glossary. Attractive paintings with simple lines and bright, solid colors help tell this warm, loving story in an understated way. (Picture book. 5-9)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810989672
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/1/2010
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 813,575
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 10.70 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Antonio Sacre is a Cuban-American writer, storyteller, and performance artist. He lives in Los Angeles. Visit him online at www.antoniosacre.com.

Angela Dominguez was born in Mexico City and lives in northern California. She illustrated Ava Tree and the Wishes Three and Carmen Learns English. Visit her online at www.andillustrations.com.

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