The Miracle of the First Poinsettia: A Mexican Christmas Story

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Troubled that she has no pesos to buy a gift for the Christ child, Juanita humbly follows the mystical behest of a stone angel to bring weeds to the midnight mass instead. Miraculously, the weeds transform into poinsettias because they are a "gift from the heart." More languidly paced than Tomie dePaola's tightly spun Legend of the Poinsettia, Oppenheim's telling sags a bit under the focus on the family's poverty and heavy-handed insertions of Spanish vocabulary. Negrin's (The Secret Footprints) striking illustrations, however, energize the tale, taking their cue from the brilliant flowers and sun-kissed colors of Old World Mexico. His mixed-media art creates a lush, dreamlike environment where anything seems possible. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-Because Juanita's pap is out of work, there are no extra pesos to give to the church on la Noche Buena, Christmas Eve. Even when Mam assures her that "-there are no greater gifts than the ones you bring in your heart," the child is ashamed to enter the church without even a candle to place at the altar. Then a stone angel tells her to gather weeds as her gift; the weeds transform into "star-shaped scarlet-red flowers," the flor de la Noche Buena, or poinsettias. Watercolors, colored pencils, wax and oil pastels were used to create luminous, textured paintings with gorgeous Mexican motifs; the perspective is consistently and effectively that of the child. Libraries owning Tomie dePaola's folkloric retelling, The Legend of the Poinsettia (Putnam, 1994), will still want this handsome, tellable new offering.-S. P. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Oppenheim tells the familiar story of the first Poinsettia (also the subject of picture books by Tomie de Paola and Pat Mora) with a sure hand. Juanita, a poor child in rural Mexico longs for a Christmas gift for the Christ child. A stone angel tells her to pick some weeds; when they're transformed miraculously into beautiful red flowers, they become the perfect gift. Oppenheim enriches the Mexican flavor by sprinkling Spanish words throughout the text and including a glossary and pronunciation key. A carol (with music and words in Spanish and English), traditionally sung by the mariachis at Christmastime, concludes the story. Negrin's intense oil-and-wax pastel, colored-pencil, and watercolor illustrations border on the surreal, with their bold use of modeling and contrasting deep blues, reds, and glowing gold. They also provide authentic details and decorations of papel picado, birds, butterflies, and flowers. A Christmas gem. (Picture book. 5-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781841482453
  • Publisher: Barefoot Books
  • Publication date: 8/1/2003
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 11.56 (w) x 9.36 (h) x 0.38 (d)

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