The Glowing Heart

Published in 2016; author Valerie Tripp; illustrator Juliana Kolesova


Josefina and her family host her maternal grandparents and an old friend of Tia Dolores', Don Javier, for La Fiesta de los Treyes Magos (feast of the three kings or magi, or Epiphany; January 6). Don Javier give Tia Dolores a beautiful and expensive ring referred to as the glowing heart, an inheritance from her late aunt. Also discussed is the fact that Josefina's father must sell his prized stallion to help make up for the losses their sheep herd suffered in the flood. He and especially Tia Dolores are reluctant too, but they need to bring in more money than weaving blankets is doing. A short while later, a rich businessman comes to visit, a prospective buyer for the horse. 

Soon after, the ring goes missing.

Potential suspects include Don Javier (while jovial, he seems to still be pining for Tia Dolores, who he knew when she was still single--is he jealous of Josefina's father?), the buy Sr. Fernando (he was awfully curious about everything at the ranch, including security, and left suddenly to get funds to buy the horse--or to sell the ring?), whoever Josefina has seen glimpses of here and there (there are rumors of raiders about), and the family servant Teresita (she's been acting very strangely). Soon things go from bad to worse: the horse Josefina's father is about to sell goes missing, and all the family's silver. 

Fortunately, the horse is found quickly. It seems a stranger--the man Josefina had caught glimpses of--stole the horse. Sr. Fernando comes to the rescue, but he embellishes the story in a strange way that makes Josefina suddenly very suspicious of him. She realizes that the stranger, who doesn't speak Spanish, must know Navajo, and gets Teresita to translate. It comes out that Sr. Fernando stole the horse and the silver. He meant to slip away in the night, but when his mule surprised Josefina that morning, he pretended to be back to buy the horse, "found" it, claimed it was too spirited, and tried to claim the reward money. And the strange man? Teresita's long-lost brother, who has recently come to the area. Because of long-standing prejudices, he and Teresita thought it best his presence remain secret. Her brother gets the reward for finding the horse, and Sr. Fernandez is arrested.

But the ring is still missing, and Tia Dolores is still sick with worry over it. But another visit from Don Javier helps distract the family. He really is a very nice man, and while he did once love Tia Dolores, he accepts that she found love elsewhere. They sit down to a meal with their visitor, and as Josefina bites into her food, she finds the ring! Her little nephew Antonio loved the tradition of hiding a trinket in the dessert served on La Fiesta de los Treyos Magos, and (not realizing the ring was so precious), hid it in an empanada he helped bake. 

However, Tia Dolores is still going to feel tired for a while: she wasn't sick with worry. She's pregnant!

Inside Josefina's World

Both the importance of hospitality to the Josefina's culture and the tensions between Spanish settlers and native Navajo, Apache, and Comanche tribes (i.e.; encroaching on land and kidnapping each other's children to be slaves) are discussed.


This book is dedicated to "our family in New Mexico: Susie, Russell, and Trevor, with love."

Although the visitors the Christ Child received are often said to be the Three Kings, the Bible doesn't call them kings, nor does it say there were three of them. They're referred to as wise men (magi) who brought three gifts. Because of the number of gifts, they've often been represented, especially in art, as three individuals wealthy enough to give such fine gifts (although some Eastern Christian traditions refer to twelve people).

Don Javier gives Josefina and her sisters each a silk handkerchief: one orange, one yellow, one blue, and one purple. It bugs me more than is reasonable that we're not told who gets which color.

Francisca and Clara do a little play on words with lighthearted vs light-headed, but I don't think that would work in Spanish. According to Google translate, the Spanish for lighthearted is "alegre" and light-headed is "mareado."

Both Sr. Fernando and Josefina's nephew Antonio get soaking wet in a stream (the former to wash himself, the latter playing) when it's cold enough to snow. That doesn't seem smart.

No comments: