Song of the Swallows by Leo
Song of the Swallows tells the lovely
story of a little boy named Juan who lives in San
Juan Capistrano in California. Juan learns from an
elderly man at the nearby mission about the yearly
visit the beautiful swallows make to the area. Juan
longs for the return of the birds, and plants a
small garden at his home to welcome them. On St.
Joseph's Day, Juan's dreams come true when a pair of
swallows come to nest in his garden. The glorious,
gentle illustrations of this Leo Politi book capture
a special feeling about Mexican-American culture and
Pedro, the Angel of Olvera
Olvera Street is the oldest part of the city
of Los Angeles, and contains many historic buildings
around a traditional plaza with a fountain. When Leo
Politi wrote Pedro, the Angel of Olvera Street,
he dedicated the story to the children of Olvera
Street, and reading this Caldecott Medal-winning
book takes you into an idyllic world where children
play an important role in local culture.
revolves around a little boy with a beautiful voice
who gets to lead the Christmastime procession called
La Posada. Wonderful detail is given about
traditional songs and holiday past times like
breaking the pinata. Little Pedro gets his wish of
receiving a beautiful music box.
The illustrations in this book capture the
vibrant atmosphere of Olvera Street, which remains a
hub of Mexican-American culture to this day.
You and your children will also love these other books
by Leo Politi:
is the story of a little girl who takes her dove to the
Blessing of the Animals ceremony, which is held before
Easter on Olvera Street. The soft, colorful illustrations of
this book make for wonderful bedtime story reading.
offers a further celebration of Mexican heritage. This is an
extremely rare book, and my link will take you to a list of
used copies you can purchase through Amazon.com.
Three Stalks of Corn
is one of my all-time favorite Leo Politi books. This book
will teach your children about the essential role corn has
played in the history of the Mexican people, and the
fascinating mythical roots behind the creation of the corn
plant. A little girl and her grandmother, her abuelita,
attend a village festival and eat mouthwatering homemade
tortillas and hot chocolate. This endearing story will be
one your children want to read again and again.
As adults, it is our privilege and duty to help our
children to develop a strong appreciation for cultural
diversity. Leo Politi spent his life (1908-1996) creating
heartwarming, beautifully illustrated books about children
of many cultures. As a child, I loved these books simply for
their appealing stories and artwork. But as an adult, I can
see how Leo Politi's work helped me to gain a sense of love
and respect for people of all lands. I so hope you will take
a look at my short list of books, and consider sharing such
a precious gift with the young people in your life.