The Legend of the Poinsettia

by Tomie dePaola

Paperback, 1997


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Call number

HO Dec. de


Puffin Books (1997), Edition: Illustrated, 32 pages


When Lucida is unable to finish her gift for the Baby Jesus in time for the Christmas procession, a miracle enables her to offer the beautiful flower we now call the poinsettia.

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User reviews

LibraryThing member cbl_tn
I've always loved poinsettias at Christmas, but it wasn't until my brother married into a Mexican family a few years ago that I learned that poinsettias are native to Mexico. Tomie dePaola's colorfully illustrated book tells the story of how the poinsettia became associated with Christmas in
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Mexico. It's a beautiful legend that reminds me of the Little Drummer Boy. Families might want to read this one together during the Christmas season. Elementary teachers could use this book in a unit on holiday traditions in other countries. I think I'll add it to my Christmas decorations in a coffee table display of seasonal reading.
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LibraryThing member PeterandPaulLibrary
When Lucida is unable to finish her gift for the Baby Jesus in time for the Christmas procession, a miracle enables her to offer the beautiful flower we now call the poinsettia.
LibraryThing member alliek710
Would be good to use during Christmas time, to talk about folktales and the Mexican culture and where things in our culture came from.
LibraryThing member kyoder06
-Have students create poinsettias as craft project
-Unit on various legends
LibraryThing member kpalmer07
This is a good example of a legend. For a book to be a legend it must be based on fact with some imaginary material. Almost this whole book could really happen. Through the story of a little girl named Lucida, the book explains the celebration of Christmas in Mexico. It talks of the traditions that
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occur and how it is usually celebrated. The imaginative element comes in when Lucida places a handful of weeds down for Baby Jesus and then they bloom into poinsettias along with all of the other weeds in town. This story has been passed down for years and is believed to be true. America even uses the poinsettia as a Christmas flower now.

Lucida would be the protagonist in this story and a good one at that. Lucida clearly drives the story and is a dynamic character. Lucida is a helpful girl who does what she is told. She works with her Mom and Dad, but when her Mom gets ill she is very sad. She tries to finish the blanket, showing her compassion and perseverance, but fails to do so. She then pouts and is sad because of her failure, but then she talks to someone and gains the courage to give, even when embarrassed. She humbles herself and is rewarded for it.

Media: Ink and Wash
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LibraryThing member aelambert
Thos book tells the Mexican legend of the Poinsettia. This tradional Christmas flower is the flower of the Holy Night. Its red blooms light up the area around it. This story is great for Chistmas time because it allows children to see what makes a gift special.
LibraryThing member ericha.anderson
Lucinda lived in a small village in Mexico with her mama, papa, brother, and sister. She helped her family work around the house during the week and on Sundays they always went to Mass. One day before Christmas Lucinda's mother asks her to help make a blanket to cover the baby Jesus figure
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in the Christmas procession at church. Lucinda's mother fell ill and Lucinda had to finish the blanket all by herself. Lucinda tried to finish the blanket, but the yarn became tangled and the blanket was ruined. Lucinda did not want to go into the church on Christmas Eve. While outside she was approached by an old woman who told her that her mother would be fine. She also told her that she could give any gift to the Baby Jesus and he will love it. It does not have to be a blanket. Lucinda collected a patch of tall gree weeds and walked into the church. She placed the weeds around the stable and prayed. Soon each tip of each weed grew a flaming red star and the manger glowed with their beauty. Now every Christmas in Mexico these red flowers called poinsettias grow on top of green branches in Mexico.
DePaola is a well known author and illustrator and I do believe he does a fantastic job of matching his art with the Hispanic culture depicted in this book. The illustrations certainly do enhance the story. Students can use this book to study the elements of a legend and learn about the culture of Mexico.
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LibraryThing member Kourtlin.Harrison
Summary: This book is about a girl named Lucinda that lives in Mexico with her family. As Christmas was approaching, Lucinda's mother was asked to make a new blanket for Baby Jesus in the Christmas procession. Lucinda helps her mother until her mother becomes sick and is taken to the doctor.
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Worried that the blanket won't get finished, she tried to finish it herself but ends up ruining the blanket. When she goes to the Christmas service, she takes a bundle of weeds to be sacrificed on the alter since she had nothing else. The weeds then turned into beautiful red flowers, or what we now know today as poinsettia's.

Personal Reaction: This book makes me think of Christmas at my own house because we always had poinsettia's. It also makes me think of the things my mother and I would do together when I was younger.

Classroom Extension Ideas:

1. As a class, we could make a Venn Diagram comparing this book and "The Legend of the Bluebonnet." Since they are written and illustrated by the same person, we could find the similarities and differences of these books. We could also find the similarities of Hispanic and Native American cultures.

2. We could do a study on poinsettia's and take care of our own plant in the classroom. They could learn about plants and the proper care of them. When done, each child could take their own plant home.
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LibraryThing member DenaLanders
This book was about a young Mexican girl named, Lucinda. She brought weeds to the baby Jesus and they turned into poinsettas. This showed the symbol of Christmas and the little girl's unselfishness by giving what she could. The illustrations have many bright colors capturing Mexico during Christmas
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time. It really shows excitment for the season with the colors. Beautiful book!
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LibraryThing member dukefan86
Sweet story about the legend of the poinsettia/poinsetta. Enjoyed dePaola's illustrations, as usual.
LibraryThing member lmcswe1
I liked this book for several main reasons. First, it had a bilingual component to it. Although it wasn’t a fully bilingual book, there were spanish references in the story. For example, one page read “At home Lucida helped mama clean their casita- their little house- and pat out the tortillas
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for their meals.” Although there was no full translation, there was a lot of spanish vocabulary mixed into the book. This can act as a good introduction to the spanish language. Another thing I liked about this book was the topic. Everyone loves the holidays, no matter which one they celebrate. There’s something heartwarming about reading how others celebrate the holidays that you enjoy so much. The main idea of this book was spelled out directly on one of the last pages: “Ah, Lucida, any gift is beautiful because it is given...whatever you give, they will love, because it comes from you.”
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LibraryThing member emilystrong
The Legend of the Poinsettia is a legend about why a poinsettia is related to Christmas. The story centers around a girl named Lucinda. She wants a gift to take to the manger. This story takes a symbol that weuse at christmastime and shows that it is a symbol in Mexico too. It is appropriate
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because the children can use the text to learn spanish vocabulary.
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LibraryThing member LorraineAllen
Summary: This Mexican legend tells how the poinsettia came to be, through a little girl's unselfish gift to the Christ Child.
Personal Reaction: Beautiful illustrations. A wonderful story about the gift of giving and that homemade gift as the best!
Classroom Extension: Introduce at Christmas time, as
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a folktale and an example of Mexican folklore(combine with other examples), talk about the value of giving not just receiving, and talk about different cultures Christmas traditions.
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LibraryThing member quondame
A sweet Christmas miracle story. I may very well have read this to Becky in the 90s, though it feels familiar from way further back, so maybe there is an older picture book of the same legend.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

10 inches


0698113594 / 9780698113596


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