The Legend of the Poinsettia

Tomie' DePaola's
The Legend of the

summary, lesson and
activity ideas, a peek
inside, and more

The Legend of the Poinsettia

The Legend of the Poinsettia is part of a series of legend adaptations
by the incomparable author/illustrator Tomie dePaola. Set in a small village in Mexico, this title retells a traditional folktale from Mexico
about how the poinsettia came to be associated with Christmas.
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Story summary:
When Lucida's mother is asked to make a new blanket for the Baby Jesus in the Christmas procession, the family is honored. Lucida and her mother set about buying the yarn, dying it, and weaving the blanket, but before they are able to finish, Lucida's mother falls ill. Lucida tries to weave it herself, but the yarn gets so tangled that she's unable to finish it.

Sad that her family will have no gift for Baby Jesus, Lucida hides and watches the procession from a distance. Suddenly, an old woman appears and informs her not only that
her mother will recover, but that it's okay that she doesn't have a special gift. "Any gift is beautiful because it is given." Lucida then picks a tangle of weeds and heads to the church. Others in the church whisper as she presents the weeds, but the the crowd gasps as the tangle of weeds turns into beautiful red flowers in the shape of stars. And when the crowd files outside, all the weeds in the countryside have changed to beautiful poinsettias.

The Legend of the Poinsettia

Reading Stats
Interest Level:      Kindergarten-Grade 2
Reading Level:     age 4-8
D.R.A. Level:       Level 38
Lexile Measure:   Level AD840L

Topics Covered    
Christmas traditions      Folktales (Lang Arts)
Books set in Mexico (Geography)    

Awards & Rating
Avg Customer Rating:5 stars (15 reviews)
The Legend of the Poinsettia

Other Series Books
Once you've seen this charming picture book, you will probably be eager to see DePaola's other picture book legend adaptations. To see those we've reviewed so far, click the following links:
The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush or The Legend of Bluebonnet.

Peek Inside
Below is the bottom part of the first spread, with Tomie dePaola's trademark adorable illustrations. This spread introduces the main character, Lucida, who lives with her family in a small village high in the mountains in Mexico. In this spread, she is feeding the family burro, Pepito.

The Legend of the Poinsettie

And this spread shows little Lucida carrying the tangle of weeds into the church to place around the stable as a gift for the baby Jesus. As she does so, onlookers watch in amusement.

The Legend of the Poinsettia

This book obviously has a religious component, and may or may not be appropriate for certain schools. We know that each teacher can best determine appropriateness for his or her own classroom, so we just thought we'd bring it to your attention and let you decide.

An author's note on the last page of the book provides additional information about the legend, about poinsettias, and about how the flower found its way to the United States with a minister named Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett. If you are looking for related activities and lesson ideas to go with this book, please click here: The Legend of the Poinsettia lesson ideas, etc

Buy or Learn More See other books about folk tales:
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folk tale picture books
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