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The Colorful World of Latino Folktales

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The Legend of the Poinsettia

dePaola, Tomie.  1994.  The Legend of the Poinsettia.  New York: Putnam. 

Summary: When Lucida is unable to finish her gift for the Baby Jesus in time for the Christmas procession, a miracle enables her to offer the beautiful flower we now call the poinsettia (Verso 1994).
Type:  Porquoi - because it tells why Mexicans use the poinsettia at Christmastime.
Characters: These characters are rounded and two-dimentional, which is typical of author and illustrator, Tomie dePaula.  The main characters are Lucida, papa, mama, Padre Alvarez, and the old woman.  The author portrays this family as loving, caring, and family-oriented.
Setting:  In the first paragraph of this story, we are given the place where this story takes place - in a small village high up in the mountains of Mexico.  It never tells us a date, not even a "long, long, ago."  The story could be set in just about any time period in a small village in Mexico, even today. 
Plot:  As Lucida helps her mama make a new blanket for the Baby Jesus figure in the Christmas procession, her mama gets sick and cannot finish it.  As Lucida trys to finish on her own, it becomes tangled and ruined.  Lucida is very upset that she cannot give a gift to the Baby Jesus.  An old woman tells her everything will be okay and that "any gift is beautiful because it is given."  Lucida takes in a bundle of weeds and they turn into the beautiful Poinsettia flowers.  Every Christmas in Mexico, this culture uses the Poinsettia to decorate.
Theme:  one major theme is that any gift is the gift itself, because it is the thought that counts, not how much or how big.

Rating: 5 out of 5
This story represents the Latino culture very well with it's rich, vibrant colors, text mingled with Spanish , family-oriented , and religious. 

Additional Feature:

The Legend of the Poinsettia

Here are some quotes from my students:
"I like it because it shows Mexico's Christmas and it's culture"
"I think the illustrations are very colorful and beautiful.  I think they really helped you picture the story"
"It portrayed Mexican traditions"
"Pictures were very detailed"
"The story has a lot of meaning"
"It teaches you to have faith and Mexicans have a lot of faith"
"It is a nice story and it helps you remember your family at this special time of year"

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