Sunday, November 04, 2012


Nine Days To Christmas, Marie Hall Ets & Aurora Labastida, Viking Press, 1959, 44 pp


The Caldecott Award winner in 1960 was a co-production between an author of Mexican heritage and an American illustrator. Unfortunately it is out of print and I could not even find a good image of the cover which would do justice to the illustration.

Ceci is a kindergartner who is finally old enough to stay up for a Mexican Christmas celebration called "Posadas," celebrated for nine days at the homes of different families with the final party on Christmas Eve.

This lucky little girl gets to have her own pinata! The story covers her anticipation and excitement, a day of shopping for the pinata, and the event itself.

The illustrations are pen and ink with splashes of pink, orange and yellow. I think they show how kids see the world. The pen and ink parts are just the background that children take for granted. The splashes of color are the things they actually see.

Ceci's family is clearly well-to-do, so I got the feeling of a middle class Mexican family living somewhere in an American city with a Mexican shopping area. But the book could also have been set in a Mexican city.

Typically, five-year-old Ceci is enchanted with her pinata and cries when it gets broken to release the treats inside. While the rest of the kids scramble for oranges and candies, she stands behind a tree. Her imaginative take on the experience is lovely.

Most interesting to me is that Nine Days to Christmas is the first Caldecott winner to address a multicultural topic, a sign of the new decade.


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