And Now Miguel
by Joseph Krumgold, published 1953
“San Ysidro is the patron saint of our village of Los Cordovas…He keeps an eye out special for Los Cordovas…For as long as I can remember, there have been no complaints about how San Ysidro has handled things for our village.”
Miguel is twelve years old, a middle child in a large family of shepherds who have lived on the New Mexico lands for hundreds of years. Somehow he has a way of muddling everything he tries to communicate, and his frustration is palpable. Yet in the end, the perseverance of this little mixed-up boy brings him into the world he longs to join, that of the grown-ups who take the sheep up to the mountain top every year.
The character in this children’s book has very little outward similarity to a contemporary youngster, unless that young child is also growing up in very rural, remote lands, following the trades of his lineage. And yet, I think this is a worthy book, because it so tenderly shows the struggles of a 12-year-old not yet accepted as an adult, and too big to be a child any more. The feeling of wanting to belong is universal. This children’s book certainly would do well in a classroom as a study of rural agricultural life. It would be especially terrific in a homeschool or classroom in New Mexico. The book provides useful food for thought, good topics for discussion, and reads like historical fiction, with a remote time and place.
This children’s book is well-written, and moves slowly, reminiscent of the Onion John, another children’s book by Krumgold that was reviewed on this website. Much of the action is the internal dialogue that a young person goes through, as he navigates the tricky waters of coming of age. For thoughtful young people, and particularly boys, this is a worthy choice. Newbery Medal 1959.