Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Here Comes the Neighborhood! Miracle of 133rd Street by Sonia Marzano

It was Christmas Eve.

Jose' was decorating the tiniest Christman tree ever. It was practically a twig--and what was he supposed to do with all the left-over ornaments?

Now his Mami is yelling from the kitchen.

"This oven is too small for the roast! We should never have left Puerto Rico. Everything is too small here!"

Papi rushes into the kitchen and surmises that there is no way the Christmas roast is going into that little oven. But he quickly comes up with a solution--to take the roast over to Regular Ray's Pizzeria and ask them to cook their roast in one of their ovens. Papi calls for Jose' to come along with him. On the way Mrs. Whitman pokes her nose out of her apartment's door to complain loudly that her kids are driving her crazy.The noise brought Mrs. Santiago out to see what was going on, and Mr. Franklin stepped out to glare at Jose' and Papi's big box.

"I thought someone's TV was being stolen!" he said, suspiciously."

Papi explained that they were taking their meat to the pizzeria to be roasted.

"Are you nuts!" grouched Mr. Franklin. "All the muggers are out and it's snowing!"

Down at the street level, Jose' is greeted by his friend Yvonne, whose brother complains that they will be shovelling snow all night!

Jose' and Papi trudge for several blocks through the snow, until they see the bright lights of Regular Ray's pizza place. Ray is tidying up, in case he gets to close early, but he cheerfully agrees to cook the roast. And when it comes out of the big oven, it smells delicious!

"FELIZ NAVIDAD!" said Ray! "Why don't you join us?" asked Papi. "We celebrate on Christmas Eve!"

Regular Ray agrees happily, and the three of them, carrying the roast with its irresistible aroma, trudge back to Jose' apartment house. Along the way the fragrance seems to make everyone feel better. A Christmas tree seller stops haggling and gives away his last big tree to a buyer. At their apartment house, the inviting savory smell of the roast brings all their neighbors back out, and Papi invites them all to come along and share their Christmas celebration. The neighbors smile and bring along their own specialties, and the tiny apartment seems to be big enough for all of them.

"It's a miracle!" says Mami.

And it is indeed the old Christmas miracle story, retold, in Miracle on 133rd Street (Atheneum Books). If there is a Christmas saints in this story, it's not Santa, or Tiny Tim, or the Magi, but Papi, whose good spirits never falter and whose kind invitations turn this lonely Christmas in a new home into a neighborhood festival. The award-winning author and illustrator Sonia Marzano and Majorie Priceman, come together to bring the spirit of Christmas magic to this story, and the family's tiny apartment proves as big as their host's welcoming heart. Priceman's jolly, swirling illustrations are filled with a variety of characters and the potential for the joy of the season that an open heart brings.

Share this one with Tomie de Paola's equally benevolent Merry Christmas, Strega Nona.

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