________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 15 . . . . March 31, 2000

cover When the Viceroy Came.

Claudia Burr, Krystyna Libura and Maria Cristina Urrutia.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood/Douglas & McIntyre, 1999.
32 pp., cloth, $15.95.
ISBN 0-88899-354-4.

Subject Headings:
Mexico-History-Spanish colony, 1540-1810-Juvenile literature.
Mexico-Social life and customs-Juvenile literature.
Viceroys-Mexico-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.
Review by Gail Hamilton.

*** /4


The moment we have been waiting for has arrived. The viceroy himself has appeared on the balcony. But what is that on his head? That wig! It's nearly down to his elbows. See that part right down the middle and those curls, all white and powdery. What a joke if it were to fall off. They say that when Viceroy Moctezuma fell off his horse, his wig fell off with him. Down came Viceroy, wig and all, in a huge cloud of dust.
image Reviewed from prepublication copy.

Chronicling the arrival, in 1702, of Viceroy Alburquerque, the King of Spain's representative in the Mexican colonies, this book depicts the celebrations surrounding his accession. Luis Guzman, a page to an illustrious knight, acts as a tour guide, offering readers interesting tidbits about the viceroy and his family as well as some of the dignitaries who have been invited to the party. At times it almost seems as though Luis is whispering gossipy news into readers' ears as he leads us through the crowded streets, all the while pointing out the ladies' fine clothing, a fancy carriage or the palace guards' stylish uniforms. Everywhere, a party atmosphere prevails-- there is dancing, singing, eating, drinking and bull-fighting. When, at last, the party is over, Luis returns to his place in the illustration.

This technique of bringing a character "to life" is most effective. Even though the book is fairly short, readers will feel an instant rapport with Luis and will be a trifle sad when he "steps back" into the pages of the book.

The text, based principally on the Diary of Notable Events by Antonio de Robles, is large and easy to read. The language is simple; the sentences are short and written in the first person. Illustrations are bright and colourful. They are derived from a richly painted screen entitled "Allegory of Spain" which appears in its entirety at the end of the book. Children will enjoy finding the various characters from previous pages in their original positions on the screen. A wide red border surrounds each page, adding to the festive nature of the book.

An interesting, fun look at a brief moment in Mexico's history. When the Viceroy Came will likely be quite popular in the United States and Mexico, but it will not be in great demand north of the 49th parallel.

Recommended with Reservations.

Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian at Bird's Hill School in East St. Paul, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364