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The Maldonado Miracle

The Maldonado Miracle

5.0 1
by Theodore Taylor

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Like any twelve-year-old kid, Jose Maldonado had dreams. Jose sometimes dreamed of becoming a fine artist, but the son of a poor Mexican farmer had to spend most of his time just thinking about how to survive. And since his mother's death, Jose's only dream was to be reunited with his father who had gone north to find work.

But Jose's attempt to cross the border


Like any twelve-year-old kid, Jose Maldonado had dreams. Jose sometimes dreamed of becoming a fine artist, but the son of a poor Mexican farmer had to spend most of his time just thinking about how to survive. And since his mother's death, Jose's only dream was to be reunited with his father who had gone north to find work.

But Jose's attempt to cross the border with his pet dog Sanchez turns into a nightmare in the world of the illegal alien. At the mercy of strangers at a migrant worker camp, Jose and Sanchez make a run for their lives after Sanchez, trying to protect Jose, sinks his teeth into one of the "enemy."

Hiding out in a church, Jose and Sanchez become the center of a "miracle" that finally reunites Jose with his father and gives him a new vision of a future where dreams can come true.

Author Biography: Theodore Taylor was born in North Carolina and began writing at the age of thirteen as a cub reporter for the Portsmouth, Virginia Evening Star. Leaving home at seventeen to join the Washington Daily News as a copy boy, he worked his way toward New York City and became an NBC network sportswriter at the age of nineteen. Mr. Taylor is the author of a dozen books for young readers, among them the award-winning The Cay. He lives in Laguna Beach, California, with his wife, Flora.

Editorial Reviews

Catholic Voice
Publishers Weekly
In The Maldonado Miracle by Theodore Taylor, author of The Cay, 12-year-old Jose Maldonado travels alone across the border from Mexico to the United States to reach his father. On the way, he hides out in a church, where blood from his wounded shoulder drips onto a statue of Jesus. When the town is transformed by this "miracle," Jose finds it difficult to tell the truth. First published in 1973, this story inspired a Showtime movie with the same title. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Jose has been through a lot in his twelve years—his mother's death, his father's departure for the United States to find work and having to live on his own in Mexico. This young man's survival skills are sharper than most, as readers will discover in this interesting story that inspired a Showtime original movie. The trouble begins when Jose must illegally cross the border to reach his father. Forced to stay in a migrant camp while awaiting his father's return from another location, Jose makes a friend but is forced to leave under the most extenuating circumstances (which, while not explicit, may be thematically too mature for some younger readers). An injury sustained while running away leads Jose to a mission where he seeks safe harbor for the night. But the blood that drips from his wound onto a statue of Christ is innocently misinterpreted as a miracle. Afraid of being discovered but unable to watch the craziness of the townspeople in the wake of this supposed miracle, Jose faces a tough decision—to confess that he caused the stain on the statue or to let the people live a lie? The book includes a good exploration and presentation of the subjects of independence, faith (in oneself and in a higher being) and innocence. Prior to becoming an author, Mr. Taylor was a prizefighter's manager, a merchant seaman and a movie publicist, among other things. He has authored numerous adventure books for young readers, including the bestseller, The Cay. 2003, Harcourt, Ages 8 to 12.
— Cindy Carolan

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Gutierrez was pointing to a much-used Pemex road map spread over an up-ended wooden crate. He said, "Now, pay attention. You will cross here late tonight. I will already have gone through customs and immigration. Look closely. Right here."

The heavy finger was at a place in California opposite the Mexican border town of Tecate.

Jose glanced over at the stranger from San Diego. He was a stocky man about forty. A pocho, an American of Mexican descent. He was speaking in Spanish because Jose understood very little English.

Jose nodded, but his legs suddenly felt weak. It was the same old problem. He knew he should be excited, but all he felt was fear.

Gutierrez went on as if he did this several times a week. "You'll ride in the trunk of my car until we are far away from the border. Many people make the mistake of traveling the big highway, and they are caught here at the checkpoint near Oceanside." The thick finger tapped, again.

Jose thought about men in uniform holding a flashlight to his face; a ride to jail in a patrol car.

"We won't do that," Gutierrez said. "We'll go on the back roads. East to Jacumba, then north again up through Pine Valley, here by Escondido, taking a dirt road to skirt another road block, then on to Elsinore, and finally back on the main road here at San Juan Capistrano."

With the exception of that last place, where there was a famous mission, Jose had never heard of any of them. He studied the map and tried to make his voice deeper, more manly. "Is this the best way?"

Gutierrez nodded and removed his glasses, tucking them into his shirt picket. He smelled of hair tonic."Yes, Jose. Your father agreed. We'll pick him up in Oxnard tomorrow. All the arrangements have been made."

Jose wondered what the arrangements were; where Oxnard was. He wished he'd been able to talk to his father, though not much would have resulted.

"Except that you are skinny, you don't look like your father. You don't have his height," Gutierrez commented.

That was true.

Over six feet tall, Hector Maldonado Alvarez had very little meat on him. When he had his shirt off and was lifting something heavy, his ribs projected like steel rims. His face was sharp and bony, like his wrists. It was a mellow redbrown. He had told Jose that their blood was Spanish and Indian.

Jose was short, wiry, black-haired. His large, soft eyes were unlike those of his father. They were his mother's eyes. Long lashed.

Slightly embarrassed, and not knowing what else to say, Jose answered simply, "No, I do not." He reached down to scrub Sanchez' thick neck.

The big mongrel had been watching Gutierrez from the moment the old car had driven up. He was splotched black and brown and had one discolored eye. It was greenish. His coat was like a matted, worn shag rug. His head seemed oversized for his body, the nose flat like a cow's. His tail had been accidentally mashed off midway, so that it was neither long nor short. It looked strange, especially because hair refused to grow on the last inch of it. There was nothing there but gray skin.

Gutierrez shifted on his sandals. "The money," he said. "Half now."

For a moment, Jose thought about what to do. Then said, "Go outside, please, señor."

Gutierrez laughed. "I am doing your father a favor. Don't be suspicious of me, boy." But he shrugged and waddled out into the sunlight.

Jose dragged the empty box to the rear of the room and stood up on it, feeling along the top of the beam beneath the tile roof for the stack of bills. He had counted them a dozen times. The other half of the smuggling fee, payable after Gutierrez delivered Jose to his father and then took them on somewhere else, was buried outside in a coffee can.

Dropping down off the box, he counted it once again and then joined Gutierrez in the yard.

The pocho was smiling, and Jose felt silly. After all, the money was for Gutierrez; his father had placed confidence in him. "Seventy-five dollars, American. Count it."

Gutierrez chuckled. "I don't need to. I'm sure you've done it fifty times."

Jose finally laughed. "A dozen, at least."

"How old are you?" Gutierrez asked, cramming the bills into his wallet.

"Twelve." He'd rather have been, eight or six or five again.

Gutierrez nodded. "You've been here alone? How long?"

"Four months."

"Any trouble?"

Jose shook his head unconcernedly. "I have Sanchez. I've been quite safe. I haven't even thought about it." That was a lie. He'd spent many nights on the straw matting, his throat tight, listening to every sound. Finally failing asleep, one hand dug into Sanchez' fur.

Gutierrez smiled, glancing at the mammoth dog. Then his face became serious. "Don't panic tonight. Maldonado said to tell you to keep your guts. Immigration would lock me up and throw away the key if they caught me with a child."

Momentarily resenting being called a child, Jose said, "I will try, not to panic." There was that word again. Try. His stomach ticked at the thoughts of immigration, la migra.

"Good." Gutierrez turned and went over to the dusty Chevrolet. The starter ground as if it had a bellyache; then the engine caught and revved. "This time tomorrow, we'll be far past Los Angeles," he called out cheerfully.

Keep his guts! It sounded so easy.

Gutierrez waved and headed back up the bumpy dirt road toward Baja No. 1, the rolling black top that stretched from Tijuana south to Colonia Guerrero, a few miles below Cabo Colnett, the great blunt-headed cape. The pavement ended there. Beyond that there was little...

The Maldonado Miracle. Copyright © by Theodore Taylor. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

THEODORE TAYLOR is the author of many award-winning middle grade and young adult novels, including The Bomb, Air Raid!--Pearl Harbor, and the modern classic The Cay, along with its prequel-sequel Timothy of the Cay. He lives in Laguna Beach, California.

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