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<< Back to Little Gold Star / Estrellita de Oro

Little Gold Star / Estrellita de Oro

School Library Journal
When young Arcía tries to convince her father to marry the woman next door, he warns her that “Today Margarita is so sweet and kind, / But her sweetness will turn bitter with time.” Sure enough, soon after the marriage, Margarita favors her own two selfish daughters, and her stepdaughter is reduced to being a servants. The gift of sheep, one of each girl, from Arcía’s shepherd father sets things in motion. His daughter’s lamb grows large and healthy, and once it is sheared, a hawk appears and steals the wool. When Arcía asks for it back, the bird tells her to look where he flies. When she does, a gold star drifts from the sky and fastens itself to her forehead. Naturally, the jealous sisters want gold stars, too. However, one ends up sprouting a donkey’s ear and the other a green horn. Arcía doesn’t go to the ball in this version; she merely peeks in the window and the prince falls in love at first sight.

The telling, in both English and a charming colloquial Spanish, is crisp, lively and individual. It is well matched by the primitive, acrylic-on-art board paintings that blend vivid colors with strong lines to impel the movement of the story. The unique flavor of this retelling from the American Southwest makes this not only a good introduction to the teller’s art, but also an engaging entrée into Hispanic culture.
Hayes, a veteran folklorist, offers an engaging telling of “Cinderella” that is popular in the mountain communities of New Mexico. There are some significant variations that add depth to the story, making it in many ways more interesting than the original. Arcía, the Cinderella figure, wants her father to marry, even though he warns her that the stepmother’s sweetness “will turn bitter in time.” True enough. When her father goes to the mountains to tend his sheep, Arcía becomes the unloved workhorse. In a bit of folktale mixing, Arcía gets a gold star on her forehead from a hawk, while her stepsisters get a horn and donkey’s ear from their cruelty. It is by the star that the wealthy young prince remembers Arcía; and with a talking car’s help, he finds her. The English text, which is made full-bodied by its many details, appears with a Spanish translation. The impressive acrylic illustrations, done in a sturdy folk-art style, are thick with color and bright with humor.
Nick Jr. Magazine
LITTLE GOLD STAR by Joe Hayes was selected as one of the 30 Best Books of the Year.

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