Changes for Josefina

Published in 1998; author Valerie Tripp; illustrators Jean-Paul Tibbles and Susan McAliley


Another Christmas season is wrapping up. Josefina and her sisters prepare for a large community dance on the last day, January sixth, the feast of the Epiphany. The next day, they reflect on how the work is hard, but very worth it, and Tia Dolores has taught them how to enjoy doing things for their family and friends and to do them efficiently. In fact, they've learned so much from Tia Dolores that she announces it's time for her to leave and stay with her parents. The girls don't need her anymore (although they try making a lot of mistakes to prove her wrong, but she doesn't fall for it), and their father should find another woman to love as he loved their mother. She'd just be in the way. Josefina and her sisters think their father has found another woman to love: Tia Dolores. And they're pretty sure she loves him too, but that neither realizes it. (In Josefina's time and culture, marrying a late sibling's widow or widower wasn't uncommon; it was practical: the families knew each other and it kept property divisions simple.)

The girls want to help their father and Tia Dolores see the light, but they don't know how to. It wouldn't be proper for them to discuss it outright, especially if their suspicions about the adults' feelings for each other are wrong. But their grandparents will be visiting soon--to take Tia Dolores home with them--and Tia Magdalena will surely come to see her brother's in-laws too. Maybe she can help. Josefina is anxious to ask her godmother about the situation, but when she hears her grandfather plans to join the American trader Patrick O'Toole on a journey to Missouri and he's counting on Tia Dolores to care for Josefina's grandmother, she gives up hope. It would be selfish to expect Tia Dolores to abandon her parents. Tia Magdalena is still able to pry the truth out of Josefina, but agrees that it's not the sort of thing any curandera can heal with her medicines. She instead gives Josefina a heart-shaped religious medal and encourages Josefina to pray, and tells her she will pray too.

The next day Josefina finds herself inspired: what if Ana and her family move to Santa Fe? Ana agrees that it would be a good way for her family to set out its own a bit, and her husband could help while their grandfather's away. It would also give her sons the opportunity for a good education from the priests in Santa Fe. Furthermore, Tia Dolores could then stay on the rancho. The sisters present their idea to their father, who discusses it with their grandparents and Tia Dolores. It goes half well: they all agree that Ana and her father should move to Santa Fe, but Tia Dolores still wants to leave! Discouraged, Josefina throws the heart-shaped medal out in the sleet.

Her father finds it the next day, and Josefina explains that she threw it away because of her sadness. He correctly guesses what she and her sisters hoped would happen, but says that while he does indeed love Tia Dolores, she doesn't love him back. Josefina boldly corrects him, but he doesn't seem convinced. She refuses his attempt to return the heart, and leaves, her own heart still heavy. Later that day, she sorrowfully accompanies her grandparents to Tia Magdalena's, to fetch Tia Dolores so they can bring her back to Santa Fe.

Once there, her grandfather produces a letter for Tia Dolores. As she opens it, the heart falls out. Josefina is suddenly elated: her father must have written a letter proposing marriage! Tia Dolores seems shocked, but calmly tells her parents that Josefina's father has asked to marry her, and that they can tell him she accepts. Josefina could hardly be happier!

Looking Back

The historical section is about how the Southwest came to be part of the United States. As trade opened up with what was then northern Mexico, American influence seeped into the culture. The new country was also conflicted within itself over whether to be one large nation or several smaller ones. Texas was a particular sore spot, claimed by Mexico, the United States, and also itself as its own independent nation. Dispute over where the United States ended and Texas or Mexico began grew into a larger scale war that saw the United States laying claim to what would become parts of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and California (at one point the US offered to pay for the land but Mexico refused, further increasing hostilities). Even after claiming the Southwest as its own territory in 1848 and granting all the non-Native American residents citizenship, New Mexico wasn't granted statehood. Because of its Spanish and Native American influences, New Mexico and Arizona were viewed as too foreign to be states (by contrast, California gained statehood in 1850, Nevada in 1864, Colorado in 1876, and Utah in 1896). It wasn't until 1912 that they were formally inducted as the forty-seventh and forty-eighth states. Alaska and Hawaii followed in 1959.


This book is dedicated to "Rosalinda Barrera, Juan Garcia, Sandra Jaramillo, Skip Keith Miller, Felipe Mirabel, Tey Diano Rebolledo, Orlando Romera, and Marc Simmons, with thanks."

Today, the US has fourteen territories: American Samoa, Baker Island, Guam, Howland Island (uninhabited), Jarvis Island (uninhabited), Johnston Atoll (uninhabited), Kingman Reef (uninhabited), Midway Islands (no permanent residents), Navassa Island (uninhabited), Northern Mariana Islands, Palmyra Atoll (uninhabited), Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, and the Wake Islands. About four million US citizens live in these territories.

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