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The Legend of the Poinsettia



Last updated Monday, November 21, 2005

Author: Tomie dePaola
Illustrator: Tomie dePaola
Date of Publication: 1994
ISBN: 0399216928
Grade Level: 2nd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Dec. 2005

Synopsis: In this legend from Mexico, a little girl, Lucinda, is proud to help her mother weave a new blanket for the Baby Jesus to be used in a Christmas procession. But when Lucinda's mother takes ill, Lucinda tangles the yarn and is unable to complete the blanket. Feeling she has ruined Christmas, Lucinda is reluctant to go to the procession until a mysterious old woman appears from the shadows and tells Lucinda, "Any gift is beautiful because it is given. Whatever you give, the Baby Jesus will love because it comes from you." Nervously, Lucinda grabs an armful of weeds, which she brings into the church. As she prays, the weeds open into dazzling red flowers that decorate the altar.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What is a legend? Can you think of other examples of legends? (Example, Sleepy Hollow, Paul Bunyan, Llorona, etc.)
•  What are poinsettias?
•  Find Mexico on the map. Has anyone been there? What is it like?
•  What is a loom?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What chores does Lucida do at home? What chores do you do?
•  What does the family do on Sundays? For Christmas? What do you do with your family?
•  How does Lucida feel when she ruins the blanket? What does she do?
•  What miracle happens when Lucida brings the weeds to church? Do you believe in miracles?

Craft ideas:
•  Weave paper together. Fold a sheet of paper in half and cut to an inch away from the border (non folded edge). Then weave strips of colored paper in it to make own blanket.
•  Make a poinsettia using red and green paper. Fold paper as if making a snowflake and cut rounded edges on the open folds. Repeat with the other paper. Glue the two shapes together and put a pipe cleaner through the middle. Then fold the ends together.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!