Saturday, September 3, 2011

Book Review: ...And Now Miguel by Joseph Krumgold

Last year my mother gave me some old books from my childhood, and also, inadvertently, some books like this one that apparently were from my sisters' childhood as I never had read them before. I knew this was a Newbery winner, so I decided to keep it and give it a try.

Miguel is living in New Mexico, in a family of shepherds. Every summer, to give their pastures a break and to give the sheep a break from the heat, the men in the family drive the sheep up to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Miguel is twelve, and thinks he is old enough to go too, but his father disagrees. Miguel tries many times to convince him, coming up with plans and taking advantages of opportunities, such as finding a small bunch of sheep who had wandered away from his brother, to no avail.

(Spoiler alert!) He prays to the patron saint of his town, and his wish is granted. He gets to go with the men up the mountain, because his brother, Gabriel, has been drafted. Miguel feels incredible guilt that his wish has caused this. So he talks to his brother and finds out that Gabriel thinks he was the one who caused this, with his own wish to see the ocean. The brothers decide that people shouldn't wish for anything, because you never get anything in life without giving something up. Everything has a price. And the brother is okay with going (after all, he'll get to see the ocean). And Miguel gets to go up the mountain and it is wonderful.

The book is sweet and has a great message, and the relationships in the family are very caring and yet funny. But I dispute Miguel's age. I've never known a 12-year-old to act like this. He is almost absurdly innocent, has zero interest in girls, believe in wishes, and has an extremely child-like view of the world that to me, would feel much more appropriate on a 10-year-old. I think if you gave this book to a 12-year-old, he would scoff at the "babyish" behavior of Miguel.

That said, I think a 10-year-old would like this book. It's optimistic, Miguel works very hard, he wants to help his family, he has little adventures, and is a good kid. I'd recommend it, but for a younger child.

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.

This book was given to me by my mother.


Unknown said...

I also sometimes read books from my childhood. Most of the time they bring up memories which have nothing to do with the book.

Glad you enjoyed it (again).


Julie P. said...

I don't remember reading this one as a kid. I find it curious that you think Miguel is too naive to be a 12 year old. I wonder if our 12 year olds were less worldly when the book was first released.

Kaye said...

It's unfortunate that a 12 year old would think it is babyish. Somedays, I think the world has totally lost it's innocence. Even the youngest of kids seem to be jaded and world weary. The books sounds like a winner to me.

Ellen J. said...

I happened to be twelve when this came out. I can identify with Miguel's situation. It might seem babyish to some-he is a boy after all, but even as a girl, I remember feeling alone in trying to figure out the next step in 'getting older',being recognized for what i could contribute. Adults didn't tell us much since I think they did not know how to 'empower' us. And the prayer to St Isidro is classic for a catholic child of that era.The development of his faith and maturity as processed with his older brother is lovely.