Story: Carlitos writes a letter to the Three Kings, los Reyes Magos, asking for lots of presents. Later, he decides to write a new letter and gives up some of the things on his wish list in exchange for a bigger gift for his older brother, Pablo, who is very good to him and is teaching him how to ride a bike. The Three Kings are truly wise and surprise Carlitos and his brother with just the right gifts!
Non-fiction: A description of the many ways in which Christmas and the Three Kings Day, or Día de los Reyes Magos, are celebrated in various countries. Illustrated with numerous informative photographs.
La Navidad was the focal celebration of winter in our family. It all begun around mid December when mom would invite us into the kitchen to help her do the many and different sweet breads she prepared for the holidays. Everything needed to be ready by the evening of the 24th of December, and each of us had concrete job to help this happen. My sister Pilar and I would mix the flower, water, olive oil, sugar, and work the dough again and again until it reached the desire texture for either flat breads, round puffy almond loaves, sugar rolls. Mother, at the end of the table turned the mix into magical forms, pulling, cutting it until she filled one cookie sheet, after another.
My brothers Diego and Vicente would then take those trays to the baker’s oven, one street down from us, where we had reserved time in their huge wood-fire oven to bake our pastries. Very few people had an oven at home in those days.
And when they were done mom’s battle with us started. It was difficult to keep us away from the pantry where she stacked all these wonderful temptations that filled the kitchen, the dinning room and the entire house with the most wonderful smells.
I was born in Alicante, the epicenter of turrón in the world. Our city held a turrón fair at Christmas, and many specialized shops displayed their brands and different flavors. Turrón is a special almost paste, sometimes hardened by honey, sometimes softened by extra almond oil. It is a delicatessen that is eaten in many countries of the Hispanic world during Christmas.
I didn’t know how popular turrón was until I had proof of it one New Year in Salta. I was traveling with my friend Alma Flor all over Argentina. We went north to visit the mysterious and unexpected landscapes near Salta and Jujuy. We were staying at an Inn called “El Manantial del Silencio” (The Spring of Silence) that was indeed the most peaceful place on Earth. We wanted to know what the locals would be doing to celebrate the New Year and we found a Tavern that was announcing special festivities for the evening. We made reservations and off we went to the Tavern late that evening. It was one of the most enjoyable evening of our life. Not only because of the songs, the stories told, the great voices of everyone that dared sing at the mike, but because we were for the first time since we had arrived in Argentina, respected for being vegetarians! When it was getting close to mid-night, the owner of the place asked where were we all from. There were people from Chile, Bolivia, Buenos Aires, Brazil. When I said I was from an unknown city in Spain, the MC asked me for the name of town. ALICANTE, I said to what almost everyone in the place shouted TURRON!
I have treasured that moment since then as it means how much we are connected in the Hispanic world, even with an ocean in between.
Many readers are intrigued about how two authors collaborate to write a book. If you share this curiosity you may enjoy reading how I explain this experience in the chapter entitled “Writing in Collaboration: One plus One is One or Two” in the book Alma Flor Ada and You, volume II published by Libraries Unlimited.