Packaged as a Christmas trilogy, this edition of Anaya’s nostalgic narrative includes new illustrations and two personal essays, giving readers a historical perspective on some of the multicultural traditions of New Mexico.
In the title, opening story, Anaya presents the story of young Luz, who celebrates Christmas with her mother and ailing abuelo while her soldier father is away at war. In “Season of Renewal,” the solemnity of the mile-long walk to the church for midnight Mass segues to the excitement of children collecting fruit, nuts, and candy from neighbors on Christmas Day. From the Jémez Pueblo’s Matachines dances in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the winter solstice ritual of setting up the tree of life, the author’s recollections of year-end festivities in New Mexico are celebrations of life. “A Child’s Christmas in New Mexico, 1944” is threaded with religious symbolism. Mother’s flour tortillas’ transformation into the family’s eucharist and how the annual rebirth of Christ foreshadows the fertility of spring are memories that have sustained Anaya across the years. “Long after I am a grown man, I will come to the knowledge that not every shepherd arrives at the manger,” he reflects. Córdova’s illustrations are earth-toned and evocative of the retablos found throughout the region. Throughout, the tone is nostalgic, even sentimental, more reflective of an adult looking back than a child’s in-the-moment experience.
Adults wishing to share childhood memories with a new generation will appreciate the opportunities this title offers, but children may find this edition somewhat daunting.(Picture book. 5-8)