The familiar story of an object that is passed from person to person is given an unusual twist in this poetic, Spanish-sprinkled tale set in the pampas of Argentina. "A gaucho, an Argentine man, sits carving" with "hands, dirt-lined and leathery," making a lovely moon necklace of bone, black stone, and silver that he will give to someone when the moment is right. "You would buy this necklace if you could, / but money slides off its silver chain like rain off the pampas grass. / This moon will be given." The necklace is passed from one person to another. It is given freely without expecting anything in return, a custom the Argentines call "to make a gauchada."
From a grandmother, to a mother, to a girl who smiles in her sleep, "the moon and the stone travel farther than the gaucho will ever roam," even across the sea. Each time the necklace is given, it is accompanied by the story, and in the end it is given " . . . perhaps to you. And you will tell of an open space / where cows stamp the land and champ the pampas / . . . and a gaucho, an Argentine man, sits carving." Negrin's (The Secret Footprints
, 2000, etc.) lush, surrealistic paintings, with their strangely elongated horses, give a mystical, mysterious quality to the story and evoke the Argentina of his childhood. A note explains the meaning of "to make a gauchada
" and the Spanish phrases that are used. In making this Gauchada
, the author and illustrator have given readers a lovely gift and knowledge of a charming custom that deserves to spread. (Picture book. 6-10)Read full book review >