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Erandi's Braids

Last updated Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Author: Antonio Hernandez Madrigal
Date of Publication: 1999
ISBN: 0399232125
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: May 2009

Synopsis: Erandi, a Mexican girl, looks forward to her birthday and a forthcoming village fiesta with great anticipation. After all, she hopes to have a new dress to wear. But Erandi's dreams of pretty things are soon interrupted. Mam 's fishing net, with which she catches their food, is too torn to repair and there is not enough money to buy a new net as well as a dress. Erandi receives her new frock, but afterward, she and Mam head for the barber shop. Erandi is terrified that Mam will sell Erandi's beautiful long braids to the hair buyers from the city, but it is Mam who steps into the chair. When the barber tells Mam that her hair is not long enough, Erandi summons her courage and offers her own tresses, earning enough money for a fishing net and another special birthday present. Madrigal (The Eagle and the Rainbow: Timeless Stories of Mexico) creates a vivid portrait of life in the hilly village of Ptzcuaro, Mexico, 50 years ago and sprinkles his text with a few basic Spanish words (huipil, tortillas, hija) easily deciphered by their context (though a glossary is included). DePaola's creamy gouache paintings in muted colors give this story of self-sacrifice and family love a sunny warmth. Such details as traditional Mexican architecture, pottery and clothing further define the time and place.

Note to readers:
•  Note – Glossary in the front, and there’s an author’s note at the end, describing the cultural context of the story.
•  Vocabulary: crimson, embroidery, sob

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  - Where do you think Erandi is from?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Do you help your parents cook?
•  Why do you think they want to buy hair?
•  Have you ever gone fishing?
•  Does Erandi’s mama look like she wants to sell her hair? Would you sell your hair?
•  Does hair grow back?
•  Do you think it was brave of Erandi to cut her hair?
•  Why do you think Erandi’s mother was silent?
•  What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a Pop Up Birthday/Mother’s Day Card: Take a piece of construction paper and cut in half “hamburger” style. Fold each piece in half to form a card shape. Take one of the halves and make 2 cuts two inches apart on the folded edge. Fold down to create a crease. Open the half and push out the cuts to form a “table”. Glue this half to the other half of construction paper. (For fun, have the kids share their paper to they glue different colors together) You can cut the “table” half slightly smaller than the other half to create a colorful edge. Cut out a birthday cake shape, party hat shape, happy face shape or any other “pop up” you want and glue to the side of the “table”.
•  Make a Party Hat to Celebrate Reading to Kid's 10th Anniversary: Take construction paper and make into a cone shape by taking the two ends and slight rolling it into an ice cream cone. Make sure to leave a small hole at the top, so streamers can be inserted. Streamers can be made by cutting strips of construction paper and rolling them with a pencil to make a curl. Glue or tape streamers to the top of the hat. Then, cut out shapes or draw to decorate party hat. Also, cut out the numbers 1 and 0 to be glued onto the hat. Lastly, poke holes onto the bottom sides of the hat and string yarn through it.

Special activities:
•  Teach the kids how to braid. Make 3 long strips of paper and attach all 3 together at one end. Fold the outside strip over the middle strip; fold the other outside strip over the first outside strip and continue.

*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!