November 19, 2012

A Reward for Josefina by Valerie Tripp

A Reward for JosefinaA Reward for Josefina by Valerie Tripp

My rating: ★★☆☆☆

Well, this was disappointing. Josefina and Juan have been left behind to guard the family's camp while the other members hunt for piñon nuts, but Josefina had wanted to gather the most piñon nuts so she could win her father's prize and impress her Aunt Dolores. So, as is reasonable, they start searching the nearby piñon trees for nuts; Josefina gets inventive and jumps up and down on the tree branches to shake the nuts loose for her toddler-age nephew to gather off the ground. So far, it's a great story about resourcefulness.

Then the squirrel shows up, and the whole story goes downhill. After they chase it away from their lunch, Josefina spots the squirrel's home; like an respectable squirrel, this one has planned for the winter and shoved all the nuts s/he could gather in his hole-in-a-tree home. And Josefina steals every last one.

Do you know how long it took that squirrel to get those nuts? Do you know how many he'll be able to get before winter now? None, because the Montoyas have picked the area clean. This squirrel is going to starve to death during the winter, all because of Josefina.

So when Papá and Dolores learn how Josefina got the nuts, I expected her to be reprimanded. They own a rancho, so they have plenty of food--these nuts are really just a delicacy. To the squirrel, they're life or death. I assumed the adults would explain that to their wayward ten-year-old.

But no. Of course not. Tía Dolores smiles when she learns how Josefina obtained (read: stole) the nuts; she's proud, she says. And it's okay, Josefina thinks, because while she got the squirrel's nuts, the squirrel took the piloncillo (a little cone of hard brown sugar). How utterly fair! The squirrel gets some sugar, and you get the food he relied on to survive the winter! You get to snack on some roasted nuts, and he gets to... starve to death?

So yeah, great moral. Really disappointed with this one.

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