"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."

Borges

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Xochitl and the Flowers



Xochitl and the Flowers/Xochitl, La Niña de Las Flores
by Jorge Argueta, Carl Angel (Illustrator)
Publisher: Children's Book Press (CA); Bilingual edition (July, 2003)
ISBN: 0892391812


Xochitl and her family have come from El Salvador and are missing home very much. They live in San Francisco's Mission District and what they miss most of all are the flowers that they were surrounded with back home. Back in El Salvador, the Flores family was known for the flowers that they provided. Xochitl's mother dreams of owning a nursery filled with beautiful flowers and plants. She begins working on her dream by selling bouquets of flowers on the roadside, walking door to door with Xochitl in their new neighborhood. When Xochitl's father finds an apartment with a large yard filled with garbage that would be perfect for a nursery once cleaned, the family and the new friends in the community work hard together to make it work.

This is a beautiful story of community and the power of banding together to make dreams happen. It is a story of how people can band together to bring positive change. It is also the tale of love for a homeland and the homesickness that hits hard at the oddest times. It's about finding your place in the world, of making a home in a new land.

Xochitl and the Flowers is about a dream and the work to make that dream come true. It is what most of our parents and grandparents have done; bringing a piece of that culture and homeland that they left and blending it with the new land to make something entirely their own. It's about transcending borders. The book teaches love, home and community, determination in the face of adversity and of establishing roots.

Prize-winning poet Jorge Argueta has written a timeless, eloquent and moving tale based on real life events in the San Francisco Mission District. The illustrations are colorful and gorgeous like the flowers central to the story. Each page is filled with flowers and smiles and each page made me smile. This is a powerful book and one each of us should have in our shelf reserved for special books.



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