Reviews for Vejigante Masquerader

by Lulu Delacre

Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Fiction: NF Age: K-3 Inspired by Hispanic tradition, this bilingual picture book tells of a little boy who desires to masquerade as a devil in the Puerto Rican Carnival. The text shows careful research into the festival and provides an authentic portrait of the character's life. However, stilted language, pale illustrations, and an unattractive design dim the effect. Bib., glos. Horn Rating: Recommended, with minor flaws. Reviewed by: mcsd (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The monthlong Carnival celebrations in Ponce, a coastal town in southern Puerto Rico, as experienced by a boy who lives in a very modest barrio. Secretly, Ramón has made a costume and ordered a colorful, grotesquely horned papier-mâché mask so that he can join the other boys and men who travel the streets, playing tricks on bystanders. These masqueraders are named for the balloon-like vejigas they carry--brightly painted, inflated cows' bladders, sometimes filled with pebbles or beans to create noisemakers. Ramón's story is affectingly told in both English (black) and Spanish (blue), with bright, mixed-media pictures; what's lacking is any explanation of Carnival or the origin and significance of the devil-like masqueraders, or why--only in Ponce--the vejigantes frolic for an entire month. Several pages at the end contain information about other masqueraders in Spain and Latin America, directions for making a vejigante mask, and some of the vejigantes' chants; an added fillip is the inclusion of 28 well-hidden lizards (one for each February day) in the pictures. Admirable in bringing an unfamiliar custom to life, but without enough background to fully understand it. Short glossary; bibliography. (Picture book. 5-8)