LIGHTS ON THE RIVER by Jane Resh Thomas


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Teresa, watching her baby brother and little niece while their parents harvest cucumbers, remembers a precious visit home to Teresa's grandmother (Abuela) in Mexico -- the camaraderie, shared music, and feast featuring a scrawny rooster and the Christmas custom of floating candles in little wooden boxes downriver past other villages. Now, a candle given to Teresa by Abuela is her one treasure. When the family moves on to harvest peaches, they are assigned humiliating quarters -- a chicken coop with two dirty mattresses and a single chair, an outside pump, a filthy outhouse. Mami's anger, only expressed in the set of her lips, is paralleled next morning when Teresa visits the comfortable farmhouse and is given a cookie; hungry, she accepts, though ""her throat was so full of anger that the cookie stuck."" Still, that night Mami lights Teresa's candle and the memory of home sustains them all. Thomas's (The Princess in the Pigpen, 1989, etc.) text and Dooling's somber palette and perceptive characterizations compassionately convey the emotions of these people while underscoring their dignity. A telling portrayal of Mexican migrant farmworkers.

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 1994
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Hyperion