Tuesday, November 8, 2011

...and now Miguel (1954)

...and now Miguel tells the story of, you guessed it, Miguel.  At 12 years old, Miguel thinks he is ready to go to the mountains with the men to tend the sheep during the summer.  His family have been raising sheep in New Mexico for generations and the journey to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains with the sheep symbolizes to Miguel the transition to manhood.  He wishes and prays for a miracle to make it possible for him to go, but he also works hard and does his best to pull his weight so that his father and the other men will see him as capable of the task.

The rest of the family do not understand Miguel.  Sometimes he thinks things and kind of assumes his listeners are following his thoughts before he speaks, and then they all become confused.  Kind of funny except that Miguel is so earnest. 

Small spoiler--A miracle does happen for him to go.  You will have to read the book to find out how it all works out.  :)

Some favorite quotes:
"I don't know if it is true but I have been told that if you are good all the time and if sometimes you pray, then you will go to heaven.  Maybe this is so and maybe not." (p. 10) 

Miguel had taken on the role painting the numbers on the ewes and newborn lambs so that the moms and babies could be matched up if they got separated.  In talking with his grandfather about this he learns: 
" 'That is the real work of a pastor,' my grandfather told me, 'of a shepherd..  To see that in all the flock there is no one that is alone by himself.  Everyone together.  Only so can all live.'
'How is it they go off, the way they do, by themselves?' I asked. 'Why are sheep not so smart?'
'Sheep!  There are many men who don't understand this simple thing.  Not only sheep.' " (p. 52)

"The boy should know this...Whenever something grows and you keep it from growing anymore, that's a sin.  And if it's a life, living, and you let it to die, that's a sin." (p. 57)

"Ordinarily I'm a pretty good prayer.  I can do an 'Our Father who Art In Heaven' as fast as anybody else.  Without skipping words, I can beat even my big sisters.  But this wish wasn't like doing an 'Our Father.' I had to make up the words for this one myself. And not only words.  To say a wish like this one I think maybe you have to say it with something more than just plain words." (p. 113-114)

"One thing is, next year on san Ysidro Day I'm going to say a new kind of prayer...I'm going to pray like this. 'San Ysidro. Dear Sir.  This is Miguel Chavez who took up so much of your time last year...Thank you for last year.  But  this year, I haven't got any wish.  No wish at all.  All I wish, San Ysidro, is for things to be the way you wish.  Amen.' " (p. 216)

Although I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I rather doubt that the target audience children would find it appealing.  It is kind of slow-moving and makes you stop and think.  I don't think kids these days like doing that, however much we would like them to.

Krumgold, Joseph. ...and now Miguel. Crowell, 1953.

1 comment:

  1. This is a book I actually remember having read in school growing up (sixth grade maybe?). I don't really remember the storyline, though.