- Age Range: 4 - 8 years
- Grade Level: Preschool - 3
- Lexile Measure: 640 (What's this?)
- Hardcover: 48 pages
- Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (September 22, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0689878877
- ISBN-13: 978-0689878879
- Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 0.4 x 11 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,099,158 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Miracle on 133rd Street Hardcover – September 22, 2015
|New from||Used from|
From School Library Journal
K-Gr 4—José and his family's Christmas Eve isn't going well. They are homesick for Puerto Rico, and their tiny apartment means a tiny tree and an oven too small to cook the Christmas roast. When Papi and José decide to take the roast to a local pizzeria to make use of the larger ovens, they find that the spirit of the holidays has passed by many of their neighbors, too, a multicultural cast of community members who have also lost the Christmas spirit. But when the aroma of the perfectly cooked roast José and Papi bring back travels through the apartment building, magical realism makes for a Christmas miracle as the whole building discovers the enjoyment of friends and family. Priceman's illustrations are lovely, with bright, cheerful colors literally swirling with the action of the season. The characters are detailed, diverse, and full of personality. VERDICT Families will enjoy curling up with this warm story about finding home in community.—Brooke Sheets, Los Angeles Public Library
About the Author
Sonia Manzano is best known as “Maria,” one of the first Hispanic characters on Sesame Street, a role she has delighted in for more than twenty years. She has earned fifteen Emmy Awards as a member of the Sesame Street writing staff, and is the author of the picture books No Dogs Allowed!, A Box Full of Kittens, and the Pura Belpré Award honored The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano. Sonia Manzano lives in New York City with her husband.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Pros: A feel-good Christmas story with a culturally diverse cast of characters.
Cons: A pretty bah humbug collection of neighbors until dinner is served.
The author, Sonia Manzano, is a retired actress best known for her role as Maria on Sesame Street. Interestingly enough, many of this story’s illustrations and scenes resemble some of the dynamics of Sesame Street, with a diverse cast of characters all coming together on the street, in the hallways, and, generally, through the lively maze of New York City. The stunning, colorful illustrations also brightens the gray and white tableau of New York City during wintertime with cheerfully colored homes, people, lights and stars.
The story starts with young José decorating “the tiniest Christmas tree ever” while his mother curses in the kitchen—“she added a string of words he was not allowed to use—in English or in Spanish”—as she tries to find space for the holiday roast: “’We never should have left Puerto Rico. There we could have roasted it outside. Everything is too small here. Small kitchen. Small apartment. Small everything. We need a bigger oven.’” The beginning of this story starts with some typical holiday season sentiments, such as stress over cooking, organizing amongst family, excitement about the special occasion, while also adding another element characteristic of the immigrant experience—missing home. Although the holidays are often a special time, they can also be a sad time when people miss their homes, the holiday rituals of their culture, and their loved ones abroad: “José knew his mother needed a joke; every Christmas she got homesick for Puerto Rico.” The holidays are simultaneously a time of joy and mirth, and yearning and nostalgia, especially for those living between two countries and two cultures.
While José’s mom struggles to find room for the holiday roast, José suggests that they take the roast down to the pizza shop to roast it in the pizza oven. Although intended as a joke, José’s parents think it’s a brilliant idea. As José and his father push their way through the crowded and excited hallway, with their neighbors popping out, one by one, to see what the commotion is about, readers are introduced to a diverse array of characters, and their own, individual stresses, laments and regrets this time of year. Mrs. Whitman in 4B’s children are driving her crazy and she can’t wait until school starts up again; Mr. and Mrs. Santiago miss their children who can’t come home to visit this year; Mr. Franklin anxiously advises the family to not go out the day before Christmas, because “that’s when all the muggers are out”; and Ms. Simon and Mr. Wozensky lament the over-commercialization of the holidays and the materialism and financial stress associated with buying presents. Even Mr. Ray at the pizza shop, once José and his father finally arrive, laments that “’Nobody eats here on Christmas Eve. They just take their pies and go home.’”
Mr. Ray agrees to cook their roast in his big pizza oven and José and his father wait patiently in the shop as it cooks. José even dozes off for a little while, but when he wakes up, he is overwhelmed by the delicious scent of the roast and all of the happy feelings and memories associated with it: “And that’s when it hit him. A scent. A most glorious scent. A scent so garlicky and olive oily and delicious it made you want to eat—even if you weren’t hungry. A bouquet that made you feel excited, except you didn’t know why. A smell that made you feel something wonderful could happen, but you didn’t know what.” The scent of the finished roast makes José and his father so happy, especially after their long journey of finding a place to cook it, meandering through waves of curious and agitated neighbors, and trudging through mounds of New York City snow, that they feel overwhelmed by love, affection, and yuletide mirth: “The aroma seemed to lift José to his feet and wrap itself around all of them like a scarf. There was nothing left to do but hug.” This lovely scene reinforces how food (the smell, taste, and preparation process) can have profoundly emotional and visceral impacts, and can facilitate unity, love and communication amongst people. This scene also shows an interesting intergenerational conflict, where José, upon smelling the roast, is reminded of all of his previous Christmases and is overwhelmed by joy and fond memories, whereas his mother, who has many more memories of Puerto Rico, is still at home overwhelmed by nostalgia and feelings of longing.
In the Christmas spirit, José’s father also decides to invite the pizza shop owner, Mr. Ray, back to their home for Christmas dinner. Although José and his family miss Puerto Rico, these cultural differences and individual memories also make them feel at home in the diverse atmosphere of New York City. As a New Yorker myself, I can’t help but smile at the illustrations and scenes of all different people, from different countries and cultures, with different lives and experiences coming together in the holiday spirit to offer some help, share some advice, or vent some frustration.
As José, his father and Mr. Ray make their way back through the hall, the enchanting aroma of the roast seeps through the doors of all the neighbors. Everyone comes out to fawn over the delicious, mouth-watering roast, and José’s father invites them all to come over to help them eat it. Again, we see how the enchanting effect of food brings people together: “As José, Papi and Mr. Ray came through the door, the miraculous aroma filled up the apartment quickly. The guests filled the apartment even quicker.” This wonderful story, although filled with moments of mirth, love and kindness, also shows the reality of the holidays, the human and relatable feelings of nostalgia, longing, and sometimes sadness. Ultimately, this is what makes this book so wonderful—as all these different characters from different cultures with different life stories come together, they realize that they’re actually not all that different. Everyone has some sad stories, everyone is thinking about a loved one far away, and everyone is stressed with planning, finances, interpersonal dynamics—but at the end, this is what makes them all human, and this is what brings them all together.
For the full review, visit teachinglatinamericathroughliterature.wordpress.com