The Legend of the Poinsettia

by Tomie dePaola (Author)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

In Mexico, the poinsettia is called flor de la Nochebuenao flower of the Holy Night. At Christmastime, the flower blooms and flourishes, the quite exquisite red stars lighting up the countryside.

This Mexican legend tells how the poinsettia came to be, through a little girl's unselfish gift to the Christ Child. Beloved Newbery honor-winning author and Caldecott honor-winning illustrator Tomie dePaola has embraced the legend using his own special feeling for Christmas.

His glorious paintings capture not only the brilliant colors of Mexico and its art, but also the excitement of the children preparing for Christmas and the hope of Lucida, who comes to see what makes a gift truly beautiful.


Starred Review

DePaola retells a Mexican legend of miraculous transcendence.

Copyright  1995 Hornbook, LLC Used with permission.


DePaola (Christopher, p. 140, etc.) has always had a way with the retelling of folktales -- getting them straight without getting them sentimental -- and he shines again here with this Mexican story, as do the bold swaths of color that illuminate his painting.

Copyright 1994 Kirkus Reviews, LLC Used with permission.

Publisher's Weekly

In the tradition of his The Legend of the Bluebonnet and The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush, dePaola offers another gracious retelling of a timeless folktale. His skillfully pared-down narrative and paintings that glow with strong colors present the story of a well-intentioned Mexican child, Lucida. Distressed because she has no other gift to offer Baby Jesus, she carries into the church an armful of weeds, each of which suddenly becomes ``tipped with a flaming red star''-marking the miraculous blooming of the first poinsettias. Released simultaneously in English-and Spanish-language editions. Ages 4-8. 

Copyright 1994 Publisher’s Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Tomie dePaola
Best known for his award-winning picture book Strega Nona and for the 26 Fairmount Avenue series of chapter books, Tomie dePaola is one of the most prolific -- and beloved -- author/illustrators in the field of children's literature.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
October 19, 1997
Elementary School Library Collection, 06/01/00
Wilson's Children, 10/01/10

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