cover image Erandi's Braids

Erandi's Braids

Tomie dePaola, Antonio Madrigal. Putnam Publishing Group, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23212-1

Erandi, a Mexican girl, looks forward to her birthday and a forthcoming village fiesta with great anticipation--after all, she hopes to have a new dress to wear. But Erandi's dreams of pretty things are soon interrupted. Mam 's fishing net, with which she catches their food, is too torn to repair and there is not enough money to buy a new net as well as a dress. Erandi receives her new frock, but afterward, she and Mam head for the barber shop. Erandi is terrified that Mam will sell Erandi's beautiful long braids to the hair buyers from the city, but it is Mam who steps into the chair. When the barber tells Mam that her hair is not long enough, Erandi summons her courage and offers her own tresses, earning enough money for a fishing net and another special birthday present. Madrigal (The Eagle and the Rainbow: Timeless Stories of M xico) creates a vivid portrait of life in the hilly village of P tzcuaro, Mexico, 50 years ago and sprinkles his text with a few basic Spanish words (huipil, tortillas, hija) easily deciphered by their context (though a glossary is included). DePaola's creamy gouache paintings in muted colors give this story of self-sacrifice and family love a sunny warmth. Such details as traditional Mexican architecture, pottery and clothing further define the time and place. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)