Three Kings Day: Federico and the Magi's Gift

Today (January 6) is Three Kings Day.  In keeping with Spanish and Latin American tradition, we always celebrate this day with a visit from los reyes magos.  The kids leave their shoes by their beds (along with a small box of sweet grass or hay for the camels), and the three kings leave them a small and special gift.  Which is as it should be:  after all, it's the kings who bring the gifts in the Christmas story, too.

federico%20and%20the%20magi.jpgThere are not many picture books that tell about this tradition. One very beautiful one that does is Federico and the Magi's Gift, a Latin American Christmas story by Argentine author and illustrator Beatriz Vidal (Knopf, 2004).  The story itself is sweetly simple:  Federico is worried that the three kings won't leave him any gifts.  Vidal's exquisite watercolor and gouache illustrations (painted using a magnifying glass and very, very small brushes) are anything but.  They're magical.  I also love the tropical setting: a nice contrast to all those wintry Christmas books.  And not to worry, the Magi leave the coveted toy horse for Federico.

Perhaps they've left something for you?  Feliz Dia de los Reyes!