La Noche Before Three Kings Day

HarperCollins. Sept. 2023. 32p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063234321.
K-Gr 3–Told in the same iambic rhyme scheme as Clement C. Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” this text takes readers through a family’s Three Kings traditions, including decorating shoeboxes, cooking up a feast, celebrating with music, and bonding with family. The evening routine includes Mom reading to the children before tucking them in, then young readers are introduced to the Three Kings: Balthazar, Melchior, and Gaspar. Clever illustration hangs the Star of Bethlehem over the family’s home, and when the Three Kings get on their camels and fly away, it is that star that continues to guide them. Text alternates between Spanish and English. Rich illustrations allow readers to play I Spy, affording the chance for reflection of their own holiday traditions or a window to view other’s traditions. The illustrations provide frequent visual cues to allow readers to understand that this holiday is closely connected to Christmas: lights, reindeer, trees, garland, and wrapping paper occupy the pages. Since food frequently bridges cultures, look to the tostones, flans, and pollo guisado to engage young readers. Gendered tasks are dismantled, as dad walks the dog and does the dishes. One page shows Selena and the Puerto Rican flag, both of which open up this cultural tradition to a wide Latinx audience. The book ends with a glossary and pronunciation key so that readers are exposed to multilingualism.
VERDICT This title adds a vision of Latinx joy and festivity to collections.

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