Diaz's fiesta-bright artwork ignites this joyous tale of a Mexican American family's sentimental journey. For the parents, the Christmastime trip to their Mexican home means a longed-for reunion with family and friends; for their son Carlos and his sisters, the trip is a big unknown: although they were born in Mexico, they don't remember it--their parents moved the family to California ""for the opportunities,"" and work long, hot days harvesting crops while their children go to school. ""Home is here,"" Carlos's mother tells him as they pack. ""But it is there, too."" By journey's end, Carlos has a better understanding not only of ""home,"" but also of his parents, and of the depth of their sacrifice. Bunting's eloquent prose gracefully defines the story's rich mix of emotions, and her descriptions of rural Mexico are both earthy and reverent: ""Sometimes we have to go slowly because there are sheep on the road, sheep thick with their winter wool."" The fiery colors and bold lines of Diaz's woodcut-like illustrations lend a strength and nobility to these scenes. Employing the same mixed-media technique used so effectively in the Caldecott-winning Smoky Night, his previous outing with Bunting, he sets his artwork within photographic backdrops that show gaily painted pottery, folk art figurines, Mexican Christmas decorations, festive flowers and other shiny holiday trinkets. A veritable feast for the eyes, this South-of-the-border treat stirs the soul as well. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1996 Release date: 01/01/1900 Genre: Children's
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