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Noche Buena: Hispanic American Christmas Stories written by Nicolas Kanellos

 

Noche Buena: Hispanic American Christmas Stories written by Nicolas Kanellos

Overview:

Noche Buena brings us all the magic of the Christmas season as seen through the eyes of the Hispanic Americans who celebrate it. Christmas is a universal story, and many of the images here are recognizable across cultures. We hear and see proud, joyful singing; the adoration of the Infant Jesus; and the peaceful strains of "Adeste Fidelis." But we also connect with the rich traditions and legends specific to Hispanic culture, such as the celebration of the posadas for nine nights leading up to Christmas, with candy raining down from colorful swinging pinatas, eggshells filled with confetti, and beautiful paper lanterns crafted to illuminate the town on Christmas Eve. In "The Legend of the Poinsettia" we learn of a poor child who, embarrassed by the modesty of his gift for the Christ Child, shed tears on the dull green leaves of the familiar plant, miraculously transforming them to a brilliant red. And we witness hopeful children singing "If You Give Me Meat Pies," asking for the reward of warm meat pies and rice pudding in return for their sweet caroling.

Thirty-six inspiring literary selections comprise this enchanting collection of works from Mexican, Colombian, Cuban, and Puerto Rican writers -- writers who represent the range of Hispanic minority groups in the United States. Through these stories, traditional tales, songs, and poems, readers gain a true understanding of the importance of the Christmas holiday within the Hispanic community and begin to grasp the issues that inform the Hispanic American creative process -- issues such as communal identity, patriotism, poverty, assimilation, and religion. With vivid illustrations and original Spanish text for all poetry, this fascinating anthology will inform readers of all cultural backgrounds and give them the opportunity to celebrate this cherished time with a newly extended family.

Synopsis:

A family seated round the fireplace
Singing and making merry;
A sprightly waltz played with grace

Noche Buena brings us all the magic of the Christmas season as seen through the eyes of the Hispanic Americans who celebrate it. Christmas is at times a universal story, and many of the images here are recognizable across cultures. We hear and see proud, joyful singing; the adoration of the Infant Jesus; and the peaceful strains of Adeste Fidelis. But here as well are the rich traditions and legends specific to the Hispanic culture, such as the celebration of the posadas for nine nights leading up to Christmas, with candy raining down from colorful swinging piñatas, egg shells filled with confetti, and beautiful paper lanterns crafted to illuminate the town on Christmas Eve. There is the "Legend of the Poinsettia" where a poor child embarrassed by the modesty of his gift for the Christ Child sheds tears on the dull green leaves of the familiar plant, thereby miraculously transforming them to a brilliant red. And here too are hopeful children singing "If You Give Me Meat Pies," asking for the reward of warm meat pies and rice pudding in return for their sweet caroling.
Thirty-six inspiring literary selections comprise this enchanting collection of works from Mexican, Colombian, Cuban, and Puerto Rican writers—writers who represent the range of Hispanic minority groups in the United States. Through these stories, traditional tales, songs, and poetry, readers gain a true understanding of the importance of the Christmas holiday within the Hispanic community, and begin to grasp the issues that inform the Hispanic American creative process—issues such as communal identity, patriotism, poverty, assimilation, and religion. With vivid illustrations and original Spanish text for all poetry, this fascinating anthology will inform readers of all cultural backgrounds, and give them the opportunity to celebrate this cherished time with a newly extended family.

Kirkus Reviews

Editor Kanellos, founder of The Americas Review as well as Arte Público Press, offers a compendium of 36 pieces from Mexico, Colombia, Cuba, and Puerto Rico—a collection celebrating al Hijo de Dios in highly literary ways, including stories, songs, and a play in verse. All verse is joined by its original Spanish text. The play is Los Pastores (The Shepherds), a long, anonymous Mexican miracle play of the Nativity that has been handed down since the 16th century, and gained by being dictated to, and memorized by, semiliterate, rural Mexicans to perform from memory as a community pageant in villages all over Mexico. "A Brand New Memory" is a charmingly up-to-date look at today's Christmas presents in Hispanic families, in an excerpt from The Greatest Performance, a novel by Cuban exile and immigrant Elias Miguel Muñoz. "Legend of the Poinsettia," by Pat Mora and Charles Ramírez Berg, tells of a child's tears turning the leaves of a poinsettia brilliant red. As might be expected, a superb Christmas book worthy its publisher and its subject, something that can't be said for all holiday books this season.Keane, John B. AN IRISH CHRISTMAS: Stories Carroll & Graf (256 pp.) Nov. 2000

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Title: Noche Buena: Hispanic American Christmas Stories

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