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Charro Claus and the Tejas Kid

San Antonio Express-News book blog

Santa's Mexican cousin

In his 2007 children's picture book "Lucha Libre: The Man in the Silver Mask," San Antonio artist and author Xavier Garza unmasked Mexican wrestling in a heartwarming story of a boy and his hero. Garza has now decided to sit on Santa's lap. Coming in November, "Charro Claus and the Tejas Kid" is a bilingual retelling of the Santa Claus myth with a South Texas twist, brought vividly to life by Garza's colorful, expressive drawings.

Vincent is a young boy spending Christmas eve with his Tio Pancho on his border ranch. Tired from milking cows and feeding chickens, Vincent is about to drift off to sleep when what should he hear? Si, a thump, thump, thump on the roof. It's Santa Claus, who happens to be Tio Pancho's cousin. "I need your help, primo," Santa says.

Instead of the red suit, Pancho gets to wear his mariachi outfit. Thanks to magical, tiny colored stars, the pants don't split at the seams. In fact, Pancho is transformed: "a gold jacket with matching sequined trousers, rattlesnake-skin boots with silver spurs, a big sombrero covered in gold sequins and blinking Christmas lights, a great big cape and a golden mask."

Santa doesn't stop there. His magic repairs a decrepit old wagon, and with a single touch, the burros Rigo, Jaime, Freddie and Little Joe sprout lucha libre masks and capes and become "the incredible Flying Burritos."

And what about Vincent? Well, he stows away in Charro Claus magic bag and helps deliver presents to children along the border as the Tejas Kid complete with mask, cape, hat and guitar. Quite the dynamic duo.

According to Garza, whose work is inspired by his deep South Texas roots and the family stories he heard growing up, "Yes, Virginia, Santa Claus really does have a Mexican cousin!"

The book was published from the indispensable Cinco Puntos Press in El Paso, a small press with a big heart.
- October 1, 2008 

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