Ria hates New York. She misses her friends, and the warm Puerto Rican sun; most of all she misses the animals she left behind. Then, one day, Ria's neighbor Mrs. Blum takes her on a surprise trip: to a big cathedral-it's the festival of St. Francis Day, when everyone brings their pets to be blessed! At first, Ria is disappointed. She doesn't have a pet of her own for blessing. But a mishap with a mischievous duck leads to Ria being asked to join the magnificent Procession of Animals, right into the church! With Groucho the duck in her arms as she dances with elephants and turtles, snakes and dogs, Ria begins to realize that she's not so far from home after all.
This story of a special New York tradition has universal appeal for animal lovers of all ages, everywhere.
Illustrated by Loren Long.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Grade 2-4-This story is based on Weller's and others' reminiscences of an annual October event at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. Life in the crowded city makes Ria long for the Caribbean island that she and her parents recently left to seek "a better life." Knowing that the child misses the animals she left behind, Mrs. Blum, the neighbor who cares for Ria while her parents work, takes her to a large cathedral on the Feast of St. Francis for the blessing of the animals. Awed by the number and variety of tame and exotic creatures and people of all nationalities, Ria still feels left out until she befriends a white duck and is invited to carry it in the procession. The resulting sense of belonging leads her to feel that "-maybe all the world was home." While the story may be a bit too deep to reach its intended audience, Long's acrylic paintings on canvas in subdued hues are quite appropriate to the setting. Upward and downward perspectives of many scenes and careful use of shadow reveal the massive size of the building and add depth to the art. An author's note tells about both the feast day and the cathedral.
Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
PreS-Gr. 2. The blessing of the animals ceremony held at St. John the Divine's church in New York is the basis for this story about Ria, who misses her Caribbean home and the animals she left behind. Her baby-sitter, Mrs. Blum, takes her to the ceremony, and Ria initially feels bad because she doesn't have her own pet. But after she rescues a disagreeable duck, one of the church members invites her to bring Groucho, as he's named, for his blessing. The experience of becoming one with the community and their creatures makes Ria feel as if she's finally home. Weller's story of St. Francis Day, with its animals crowding into a church, may seem unlikely to some readers, but the author's note offers confirmation and clarification. The text plods a bit (and Mrs. Blum almost disappears), but the acrylic paintings soar as Long looks at goings-on from many different perspectives. The dark palette might have been brightened in places, but children will like seeing so many animals in such an unexpected place, and Ria's feeling of acceptance makes for a satisfying conclusion. Ilene Cooper
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Book Description Philomel Books, 2003. Hardcover. Book Condition: Brand New. 35 pages. 11.60x7.60x0.30 inches. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # 1422353966
Book Description Philomel Books, 2003. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P111422353966