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FIESTAS by Jose-Luis Orozco


A Year of Latin American Songs of Celebration

by Jose-Luis Orozco & illustrated by Elisa Kleven

Age Range: 5 - 10

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-525-45937-5
Publisher: Dutton

Orozco (Diez Deditos, 1997, etc.) once again combines his talents as a musician, a songwriter, and an educator to create this collection of songs set into the framework of the year’s festivities, with an emphasis on holidays of Latin American (particularly Mexican) origin. He has chosen songs from various countries throughout the hemisphere, but in some cases he has used well-known melodies and written his own words to suit a particular holiday or commemoration, such as in the song for Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday that is also celebrated by Mexican-American communities in the US. His call-and-response chant honoring Cesar Chavez is another original composition, while a singing game like “Arroz con leche” is from the folk tradition. Each is preceded by a short paragraph offering background on the holiday and the song. Texts are given in Spanish and English, although the English translations are meant for singing and may not be literal translations. There are songs for every month including two religious ones for December. Kleven’s (The Dancing Deer and the Foolish Hunter, p. 48, etc.) paintings with their jewel-like colors and merrily dancing children, adults, and animals mix elements of realism and fantasy. The strongest images come from Mexico, such as the Mexican skeleton musicians for the Day of the Dead, and the posadas procession with its piñatas and paper-cut banners lining the streets. The subject index leads the reader to songs used for clapping, dancing, and group play, as well as those that can be used to bolster self-esteem, or think about friendship. Orozco’s community activism and social beliefs are demonstrated throughout the collection and schools with Latino populations will be very interested in this attractive songbook. All of the songs are available on Orozco’s CDs and tapes from Arcoiris Records, Inc. This will also be useful for teaching young children Spanish and for introducing some of the Latin American holiday traditions. (Nonfiction. 5-10)