Bernier-Grand offers her version of the origins of the popular Mexican shrine.
Abandoning her typical free-verse style for a more traditional narrative, the author describes the Aztec Juan Diego’s three encounters with the Virgin Mary on Tepeyac Hill, near Tlatelolco (now Mexico City). Mary requests that Juan Diego tell the local bishop to build her a shrine on the hill. As an Indian, Juan Diego has a difficult time getting an audience with the skeptical man, much less convincing him that the Virgin Mary would reveal herself to such a lowly person. On his third visit to the bishop, Juan Diego carries a sign from the Virgin to the bishop: roses in December. When Juan Diego reveals the roses, the bishop finds that “the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary was painted on Juan Diego’s tilma!” The author concludes the tale with details on the significance of the shrine, the origins of the name “Our Lady of Guadalupe” and other relevant historical facts and dates. While Engel’s stately oil and encaustic illustrations match the seriousness of the book’s subject, readers may be distracted by the type choice and text placement, as well as a few awkward page turns. Those familiar with the author’s verse works may long for her return to that form.
A faithful, if uneven, retelling. (author’s note) (Picture book/religion. 7-12)