Nacho and Lolita

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In this tender friendship story that will melt your heart, acclaimed storyteller Pam Munoz Ryan and talented newcomer Claudia Rueda reveal that any difference can be overcome with love.

Once, when the two Californias ran alta y baja, high and low, along the Pacific, there lived a rare and majestic bird named Nacho, the only pitacoche for thousands of miles. He was proud of his brilliant feathers and haunting songs, but what good were they with...

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In this tender friendship story that will melt your heart, acclaimed storyteller Pam Munoz Ryan and talented newcomer Claudia Rueda reveal that any difference can be overcome with love.

Once, when the two Californias ran alta y baja, high and low, along the Pacific, there lived a rare and majestic bird named Nacho, the only pitacoche for thousands of miles. He was proud of his brilliant feathers and haunting songs, but what good were they with no one to share them?
Then the swallows came to nest and Nacho met Lolita. His heart filled with affection. Was it possible for two such different birds to find happiness together? And what would happen to Nacho when Lolita and the other swallows migrated back to South America?

A very rare pitacohi bird falls in love with a swallow and plucks his colorful feathers to transform dry, barren San Juan Capistrano into a haven of flowers and flowing water, which the swallows can easily find when returning from their annual migration.

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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
Opposites attract in this sweet love story set at California's Mission San Juan Capistrano. A rare, rainbow-hued bird named Nacho befriends Lolita, a plain-Jane swallow visiting from South America. When Lolita migrates south for the winter, Nacho is too bulky to fly with her but ensures all the swallows' springtime return with a moving and magical sacrifice. Rueda's delicate, soft-edged drawings create a wondrous backdrop for this Mexican folktale. (ages 6 to 8)
Child magazine's Best Children's Book Awards 2005
Publishers Weekly
A sense of enchantment pervades this tender love story, which begins when a mysterious bird called a pitacoche, arrives in the San Juan valley. Rueda (Going to Grandma's Farm) depicts the gray-brown adobe town as dull in hue but elegant in its simplicity, a striking contrast to Nacho, who "carried the colors of the world in his feathers." The bird's magnificent appearance and "haunting" evening song, cause the villagers to speculate that the winged visitor is "a spirit from the past" or "a prophet of the future." But Nacho, although proud of his gifts, has a lonely heart: he is "the only pitacoche for thousands of miles and hundreds of years." When las golondrinas (the swallows) arrive on St. Joseph's feast day, Nacho forms a strong attachment to one of them, Lolita, offering her one of his wondrous feathers (a gray feather grows back in its place) and when the swallow accepts it, "by the mystery of the ages, it became a blue hibiscus." Throughout the ensuing months, Nacho helps all the swallows build nests and gather food, and when it comes time to migrate, Nacho tries to fly south too, without success. "That night... Nacho's song ached with sadness. 'Low-leeeee-tah, I loooove you.' " Nacho then makes a great sacrifice in hopes of luring the swallows ("especially Lolita") back in the spring. Rueda's wordless spreads pay tribute to the enormity of Nacho's offering, which transforms the valley. Ages 4-8. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
This Nacho is not the one you eat, but a rare, resplendent bird--a pitacoche, who lands on a branch of a mesquite tree near the adobe of the Mission San Juan Capistrano. Nacho falls in love with Lolita, a drab colored swallow on her return to the Mission. The pitacoche's colorful feathers transform everything they touch, but only when given away. Once a feather is given, a grey one grows in its place, as is the destiny of the bird. Forgetting the swallows annual migration, Nacho is forlorn when the time comes that Lolita must leave. How he wishes she could stay, or he could go with her. If she stays, she will freeze. He is too big to fly far. After several failed attempts to fly, Nacho realizes their friendship was not meant to be, but they will meet again in their dreams. The following spring, Nacho realizes he must make sure he will see Lolita again, dropping his feathers--exploding into gloriously hued flowers filling the rivers to overflowing, fruitful orange trees--San Juan Capistrano was awash in magnificent color, stunning enough for anyone to find their way back! Nacho waited in the familiar mesquite, ever hopeful his love would find him again, even without his most magnificent plumage. Love always finds a way and the love birds are reunited once again, amid a symphony of swallows. The story is told on a background of colored pencil illustrations, brilliantly contrasting Nacho's stunning feathers with the drab scenery and the muted colored swallows. A love story for all, a folktale rich in acceptance and beauty. 2005, Scholastic Press, Ages 4 to 8.
—Elizabeth Young
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-Like Leo Politi's Song of the Swallows (S & S, 1981), this picture book celebrates the fascinating migratory patterns of the birds that call Mission San Juan Capistrano home for the spring and summer. Each year on the March feast day of St. Joseph, the swallows return to the Mission. This tale is told from the perspective of another avian wonder, a once-colorful pitacoche. How it becomes a plainer-looking creature is at the heart of this pourquoi tale. Nacho, an extravagantly colored bird who lands at the Mission, is unimpressed with the arid landscape, but nonetheless does his best to entertain the native peoples and friars with his haunting melodies and bright appearance. Human acclaim, however, does not compare with the company of other birds, and so he eagerly anticipates the rumored return of the swallows. Nacho bonds with them and in particular with a sweet little female named Lolita. Much as he would like to accompany the swallows when the flock departs, it proves impossible for the big, ungainly bird. Initially distraught, he channels his energy into creating a surprise for them upon their return, and as a by-product leaves a lasting legacy of color and beauty for the Mission. This plot progression is reflected visually as the fairly subdued, dry landscapes morph into vivid abundance of flowers and fruit trees by the story's conclusion. An author's note that details the sources for this Mexican folktale-inspired book should enhance readers' enjoyment of the playfully illustrated ode.-Rosalyn Pierini, San Luis Obispo City-County Library, CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Ryan weaves a story remembered from childhood, some folktale research and a vibrant dose of imagination into a lovely tale of magic and longing. In the valley of San Juan in California, Nacho, a pitacoche bird with all "the colors of the world in his feathers," sings at sunset in the churchyard, which is dry and grey. However, he enjoys the company of the people awaiting the return of the swallows on St. Joseph's day. When he offers a little swallow named Lolita one of his blue feathers, it becomes a hibiscus, and Nacho doesn't even mind that a grey feather grows back in its place. But autumn comes, Lolita must fly south and Nacho is too big a bird for that much flying. Before the next St. Joseph's feast, Nacho scatters his feathers everywhere and they turn to flowers, trees and blue rivers. The land becomes lush and Nacho learns that Lolita finds him splendid even without his colors. Rueda's colored-pencil images are exquisitely textured, from the rough bark of a tree to the brilliance of Nacho's feathers, as soft and richly hued as silk. A cheerful and tender paean to the transformative power of love. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780439269681
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/28/2005
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.36 (w) x 9.16 (h) x 0.12 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2007

    A great pair

    Just like this love story of a pitacohi bird and a swallow, my 1st grade son has a puppy-love relationship with an Hispanic girl. I love inspirational stories like this because it tells kids not to listen to unconstructive critisism, but only to each other and their hearts. The story also tells of how Nacho 'the colorful pitacohi bird' may feel when the swallows migrate back south and Lolita goes with them. A must-read for young kids.

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