It’s Navidad, El ­Cucuy!

Abrams. Sept. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781419760136.
PreS-K–Ramón helps El Cucuy to overcome his fear of an unknown holiday. It’s Christmas Eve, and Ramón, who recently moved to the United States from Mexico, wishes a “Happy Christmas” to his friend, El Cucuy. The problem is that El Cucuy is unfamiliar with this holiday, and for a monster who loves the dark, the Christmas lights and the snowman are too much for him. To add to this friendly monster’s anxiety, it is also the last day of Las Posadas, a festival where people knock on neighbors’ doors for nine nights, singing a song and requesting shelter in remembrance of the journey Joseph and Mary took when Jesus was born. This story, a companion to El Cucuy Is Scared, Too!, reinvents the urban legend of the Cucuy that takes children away when they misbehave. Full-spread illustrations include one to five lines of medium-size text per page. Interspersed Spanish language terms attest to the bilingualism of the main character as a new immigrant. Vivid digital art of stars, poinsettia flowers, snowflakes, and illustrations imitate confetti and paper-cut ornaments, and rely on Christmas colors to underscore cultural neighboring scenes. This straightforward narrative is perfect for a holiday story time that includes awareness of how other cultures celebrate Christmas.
VERDICT A kindhearted Christmas story highlighting the power of friendship.

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