A sensitive and evocative novel from Pelgrom (Little Sophie and Lanky Flop, 1988, etc.), who recounts the story of a young peasant boy growing up in Andalusia immediately following the Spanish Civil War. Santiago--nicknamed Cum--has grown up in nearly unimaginable poverty; he recalls how, at age eight, he often risked being burned alive by the Guardia Civil, the oppressive and ruthless police force, for stealing twigs for a fire to warm the small dirt cave where he and his extended family live (where the scent of the fire mingles with those of wet diapers, the animal's dung, and the family's toilet, a pail). Curro cannot relieve his chronic hunger with watery garlic soup or bellotas, the large acorn nuts he devours. But there is always the abundant love and support of his parents, who find the strength to go on, and whose resourcefulness is passed on to their children. The unflinching narrative follows Curro as he leaves elementary school at an early age to work and eventually up to his first sexual experience. An atmosphere of obscene poverty informs most of the book, but it is the novel's final image, of the boy in his home, brimming with love for his family, that resonates.