Historical perspective shares the front seat with plot in this scholar’s bilingual portrait of a small New Mexico community struck by the Great Flu Epidemic of 1918.
Painted illustrations done in a naïve style embellish the sense of place and period in Lamadrid’s child-centered picture of life on the Dominguez family farm in Chamisal. In lengthy side-by-side English and Spanish passages, he blends fiction and history to chronicle the rising tide of anxiety as news comes of a deadly influencia creeping closer, at last striking even in nearby Embudo. No cure exists, but traditional herbal remedies combined with memories of a smallpox epidemic a century before that had been successfully treated by traveling groups of inoculated children—known still as los Niños Héroes—provide some comfort. The author ends with hopeful signs of the pandemic’s passing and a biographical note, then hands the reins to a fellow academic for a general overview of both the smallpox and the influenza epidemics in New Mexican history.
A purpose-driven patchwork, it nonetheless illuminates two little-known episodes that left deep and lasting impressions on Southwestern culture. (glossary, scholarly bibliography) (Historical fiction. 10-13, adult)