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Children's LiteratureThis 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.