cover image Vejigante Masquerader

Vejigante Masquerader

Lulu Delacre. Scholastic, $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-590-45776-7

Carnival is a time of celebration throughout Latin America, but in the town of Ponce on the island of Puerto Rico the festivities extend long before and after the Carnival season. Young Ramon has dreamed of becoming a vejigante , one of the many men and boys who dress up in clownlike costumes and devilish masks. Unbeknownst to his mother, the lad has saved up his money and has used his sewing skills to make his own costume. As he joins the other vejigantes , readers get a tour of the streets of Ponce and of the festival atmosphere. Ramon finally attains his greatest goal--to become part of El Gallo's pranksterish vejigante band--in an act of bravado with a goat that tatters his costume. While Carnival is a raucous and happy time, only a glimpse of it is offered here: Ramon seems too careworn with money concerns, and the revelers in the artwork, especially Ramon's mother, look unhappy rather than joyous. Although Delacre's bilingual work presents a slice of life not seen before in picture books, she has not pulled her abundant information together, and the book ultimately fails to capture the essence of its subject. Ages 5-8. (Feb.)