Milagro of the Spanish Bean Pot
Set in 1790 in a Spanish colonial village, this young adult novel tells the story of 11-year-old Raymundo, who tries to keep his family together when his mother is ill and his father has been killed by Comanches. This includes learning to make pots from a Christianized Indian when his family’s bean pot cracks.
The pictures by Randall Pijoan are delightful. Reading teachers across the nation, desperate for engaging material of Hispanic interest once and now, Miguel has been read, will no doubt jump on this. I found the story disappointing, however, with little depth so we could feel the events. Raymundo learns to makes pots far too quickly, which denigrates the craftsmanship involved. His escape from Comanches seems too pat.
And, lacking an ox, he pulls the plow himself – a common trope of desperate times but a physical impossibility without someone following him to hold the handles upright. I guess that accounts for the icon of St. Francis smiling on the horizon in the picture. The magical realism of the pictures is part of their delight. Nothing is said about that miracle in the text, however.