Where Love Begins

Phillips, Helen Nieto. Where Love Begins. Illustrated by Susan Arena. Los Angeles: Lectura Books, 2016.

Where Love Begins

Summary from the publisher

The book focuses on the life of a young girl born and raised in New Mexico. The story, told from memory, is about a simple and rich cultural life in Bernalillo, New Mexico. Every August, Bernalillo is home to Las Fiestas with Los Matachines dancers, an ancient Hispanic tradition. In Bernalillo, the ritual has run for nearly 325 years, making it the oldest unbroken tradition of this ancient ritual in the world. Its origins are form medieval Spain and various forms of the dance-drama extend from Colorado to the rain forests of Belize.

The oral story is told by Helen Nieto Phillips, an 84-year old woman who was born in her grandmother’s home in Las Placitas, New Mexico. She was raised in Bernalillo, where her father, a local musician and trumpet player in the procession, wrote the lyrics for the current day celebration, while her grandfather, who was raised at the Sandia Pueblo played the violin each year for the ritual.

The book builds vocabulary in Spanish and English and will foster rich cultural discussion for early elementary children and their parents. A glossary is provided to explain the sprinkling of Spanish and regional words used throughout the books.

My Review

Since I live and work in New Mexico, I am always interested in books with a local flair. Where Love Begins is set in a community north of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Helen Nieto Phillips chose poetry to tell this somewhat biographical story. The illustrations by Susan Arena portray a Southwestern feel, fitting for the story.  The glossary at the end of the book is a great addition as there are quite a few words that will be unfamiliar to those outside of the Southwest or the Hispanic culture.

Where Love Begins could find its way into a Poetry Month unit. The book is bilingual so it could also find a use in an ESL or Spanish classroom.

I would not have a problem adding Where Love Begins to my K-12 Christian School library.

I received a complimentary copy of Where Love Begins from Lectura Books.

Unfortunately, at this time this picture book is not available from Amazon.

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