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THE MIRACLE OF THE FIRST POINSETTIA: A MEXICAN CHRISTMAS STORY

Author: Joanne Oppenheim

Illustrator: Fabian Negrin

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Publisher: Barefoot Books,

Material: hard cover

Summary: It is Christmas Eve (la Noche Buena). Everyone is happy ... even Papa, who just lost his job. Juanita is sad. True, there are no extra pesos for toys or candy, but more importantly, she doesn't have a gift to bring to church for the Baby Jesus. When everyone went in for services, Juanita stayed outside. A stone angel in the garden helps her find the perfect gift. She is skeptical of carrying weeds into church, but she does as the angel suggests. Will people laugh at her? This is a picture book story with a folk legend about how the Poinsettia became part of Christmas

Type of Reading: bedtime story, playtime reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 4 to 8; read yourself: 9 to 12

Interest Level: 4 to 8

Reading Level: 3.6

Age of Child: Read with a 7-year-old girl.

Young Reader Reaction: Our daughter seemed more interested in the illustrations, and was captivated by them so much that even when we finished a page, she still wanted to look at them some more. She liked the story, but we couldn't call it a favorite.

Adult Reader Reaction: This is a simple story that is elegantly told. The illustrations (done with watercolor and oil pastels) offer a rich complement to the words. The images are detailed enough to carry the story if you want to use this as a wordless book.

Pros: After reading this book, every time you see a poinsettia, you will remember the story ... and the true meaning of Christmas.

Cons: None.

Borrow or Buy: Buy. The story is beautifully told and the illustrations are magnificent. This book could easily be part of a yearly family tradition.

If You Liked This Book, Try: ERNEST'S SPECIAL CHRISTMAS (Ernest Series, Vol 4)   THE CHRISTMAS SECRET   AN ORPHAN'S PROMISE; A CHRISTMAS STORY

Educational Themes: Use this as a seasonal example of folktales and legends. It is also a great book to have around when the "reason for the season" seems to be lost in all of the hubbub.

Notes: Flesch Kincaid reading level 2.0

Literary Categories: Fiction - Christmas, fables and folklore, cultures and tradition, multicultural

Date(s) Reviewed: November 2008

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