A history of Santa Fe’s distinctive annual festival is packaged with old photos, bundled with an uninspired short story and unlikely to find either an adult or a child audience.
After opening with a mini-memoir addressed to adults, Lovato harks back to memories of Santa Fe in the early 1960s for a tale of two 10-year-olds who conceive a sudden sympathy for the giant puppet constructed to be ritually burnt each year during Fiesta. “Despite our heavy yoke of apprehension, we felt compelled to fight this impending crime,” young Elvis woodenly recollects. Then, having hauled “Zozobra” into hiding, the narrator guiltily confesses to a priest (“the pit in my stomach began to dissipate”), who agrees to spill the beans without naming the culprits. Following this anticlimactic episode, the author goes on to trace the Fiesta’s history from its 18th-century origins through the invention of Zozobra and the Historical/Hysterical Parade by the town’s Anglo artist’s colony in the 1920s to its modern blend of civic and religious, as well as multicultural, elements. The photos, all taken between 1911 and 1964, cover only a relatively small span of the Fiesta’s history, and, being all black and white, fail to capture the colors of the floats and costumes.
Klunky and unfocused—steer young readers to Jennifer Owings Dewey’s more dramatic Zozobra! The Story of Old Man Gloom, with photographs by Jeanie Puleston Fleming (2004). (Fact/fiction blend. 10-12, adult)