Sawdust Carpets

Overview

The Lau family, well-known from Amelia Lau Carling’s award winning picture-book Mama and Papa have a Store/La Tienda de Mamá y Papá, have been invited to spend Easter with their cousins in Antigua, Guatemala. Although they are Chinese and Buddhist, Mamá loves the pageantry of Easter.

Antigua, the former colonial capital of Guatemala, is renowned for its Easter processions. Not only are the statues outstanding examples of Spanish colonial art, they are carried by hundreds of ...

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Overview

The Lau family, well-known from Amelia Lau Carling’s award winning picture-book Mama and Papa have a Store/La Tienda de Mamá y Papá, have been invited to spend Easter with their cousins in Antigua, Guatemala. Although they are Chinese and Buddhist, Mamá loves the pageantry of Easter.

Antigua, the former colonial capital of Guatemala, is renowned for its Easter processions. Not only are the statues outstanding examples of Spanish colonial art, they are carried by hundreds of penitents, wreathed in incense. One of the most striking and original features of these processions is the creation of spectacular, ephemeral, sawdust carpets which the processions walk over and destroy. The cobble stone street of the city are lined with these carpets which people spend days creating, only to see them disappear. The heroine of the story helps to make a one of these carpets.
Guatemalan and Chinese religious observances, the Goddess Kuan Yin and the Virgen de Guadalupe, Dragon Boat Races and Easter processions, piñatas and baptisms and Chinese tamales all weave in and out of this story that celebrates beauty, religious celebration, and tolerance.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
This is a story based on reminiscences of a Chinese child living in Guatemala. The young girl and her family are invited to the baptism of a new cousin, and they travel to Antigua during Holy Week, where the family's blended culture continues to combine with local custom. In observance of local tradition, the girl assists a neighbor in creating a sawdust carpet, or faux-tapestry of colored sawdust, pine needles and other natural items laid in intricate patterns in the street prior to the Good Friday procession. Then, with another young relative she creates her own sawdust carpet. Disappointed because the procession destroys the carpets, she is reminded that the carpets are "offerings to life." Subsequently on Easter Sunday, the baptism takes place and a cross-cultural celebration ensues, complete with pinata and Chinese foods. The intercultural aspects of the story are somewhat difficult to follow, especially since the text, told from the Chinese girl's point of view, is laced with Spanish—confusing but nevertheless an asset. It also takes careful thought to link the baptism to the sawdust carpet procession, but it is worth the effort. A significant page depicts a portrait of the Virgin of Guadalupe alongside the Chinese goddess Kuan Yin. There is not a preponderance of books available for U.S. classrooms that present a diverse perspective about non-U.S. cultures, and for that reason alone, this book is a valuable contribution. 2005, Groundwood, Ages 6 to 8.
—Brenda Dales, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Carling introduces memories of a traditional Holy Week celebration in her adopted country. The Lau family, who emigrated from China to Guatemala when the author was a child, enjoys watching preparations for the Easter week ceremonies in Antigua. On Good Friday, the townspeople lead daylong processions through the streets, carrying statues depicting Jesus's death and resurrection. The narrator, her siblings, and cousins create a carpet made of sawdust, fruit, and flowers to decorate the path the procession will follow. At the last minute, the girl realizes that the carpet will be ruined if walked upon. She considers halting the marchers until a neighbor explains, "This is the custom. We make the rugs as offerings to life." Two days later, on Easter Sunday, the carpet makers begin planning for the next year's design. Intricately detailed and softly colored childlike drawings created with watercolors, pastels, and colored pencils draw the eye around the page. There is a glossary, but the Spanish words sprinkled throughout the text are easily understood. This story is a happy commingling of two cultures and their traditions.-Maryann H. Owen, Racine Public Library, WI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780888996251
  • Publisher: Groundwood Books
  • Publication date: 2/28/2005
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 7 Years
  • Lexile: 790L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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