Southwest Children's Literature

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The Gullywasher /El chaparrón torrencial

Book Review:

Waiting to take their daily walk, a young girl, Leticia, and her grandfather, Abuelito, watch a desert storm as it begins to weaken. While they wait, Leticia asks her Abuelito to tell her about when he was a vaquero. He begins an outlandishly tall tale by remembering another storm, a gullywasher to beat all gullywashers, which he claims had an amazing effect on him. He proceeds to explain his wrinkled skin, gray hair, pot belly, and his stooped posture, with far-fetched episodes connected with the storm. Leticia giggles at the tall tales and encourages her grandfather to continue. As the storm in the desert fades, the two good friends take their walk which ends with a tender affirmation of love.

The author's illustrations are gorgeous, vibrant watercolor representations of the desert southwest, its people, creatures, and landscape. The medium seems especially appropriate for the story. The author's note includes information about the first cowboys called vaqueros. The hard lives of these vaqueros was eased when they could gather around campfires and share their tall tales and laughter. The tradition of these tales is passed from Abuelito to his granddaughter in this humorous explanation of aging. The bond between the two characters is deep and touching. The author includes a glossary with pronunciation guide of some Spanish words in the story. A bilingual edition of the book is available.



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