cover image The Magic Maguey

The Magic Maguey

Tony Johnston. Harcourt Children's Books, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-250988-0

Young Miguel and his friends rally to save the giant maguey plant in their pueblo. After all, the maguey has been not just a place to play and meet neighbors-it has also provided Miguel and his family with roofing for their adobe and thread to stitch their clothes. Johnston (The Iguana Brothers; Slither McCreep and His Brother, Joe, see p. 85) weaves her informative Mexican tale around the Christmas holiday and even casts a south-of-the-border Scrooge in Don Cesar, the wealthy land owner who threatens to chop down the beloved plant. Luckily, when Don Cesar sees the maguey decorated in its holiday glory, he quickly changes his mind. Kleven's (Abuela) pinata-bright collages pulse with energy and color. Her depictions of traditional Mexican ornaments and dress ground the story in authentic and arresting detail. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)