PPBF: 'Twas Nochebuena

Today I'm delighted to share this Buy One Get One offer that I heard about this week from Laurie Jacobs, the author of Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie. It's a fun way to keep a copy and share this intergenerational whimsy with your school. I'm also psyched about PPBF because last week I was unplugged for Thanksgiving and missed it. Look at the gem I found at our Book Fair yesterday.

Title: 'Twas Nochebuena
Author: Roseanne Greenfield Thong
Illustrator: Sara Palacios
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Date: October 16, 2014
Suitable for: ages 4-8
Themes: Christmas, culture, traditions
Realistic Fiction
Brief synopsis: Travel with a family south of the border as they make their preparations for a Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) celebration.
Opening page:
'Twas Nochebuena and all through our casa, 
every creature was kneading tamale masa. 
For one of our holiday tradiciones, 
is making tamales - not one, but montones!

Resources: Read a Kirkus review {here}.
See it on a list of holiday newcomers {here}.

Why I like this book:  When I picked up this eye-catching text and started to read it, it took me back to a Spanglish poem I used to read aloud with my students when I was a Spanish teacher many moons ago. I still remember the opening lines: 'Twas la noche before Christmas and all through la casa, not a creature was stirring, caramba, ¿qué pasa? 
I recently came across this version of that very poem:

So I'm drawn in by the nostalgia of what was for me, but also by the cultural celebration that is for this Latino family. The book beautifully shares these Navidad traditions in an English/Spanish rhyme and just begs for its readers to make tamales, host a Posada, serve chocolaty champurrado, 
and sing a few spirited canciones

Let students make a word search from the words in the Glossary of Spanish Terms in back. Divvy up the poem and ask each student to memorize a verse for a festive oral presentation of the text. Invite them to compare and contrast the customs in the book with their own traditions a la Christmas Around The Class. 

For enrichment, break out a copy of Tomie dePaolo's The Legend of the Poinsettia. It might also be a fun time to have students try their hand at making a decorative piñata. Blow up a balloon and cover it with strips of paper coated in liquid starch. Once the paper strips have dried, paint or decorate with crepe paper. Finally, sing Jingle Bells together in Spanish:


Cascabeles, cascabeles
Hoy es navidad.
Es un día de alegria
Y felicidad (x2).
O navidad hermosa, o noche sin igual.

Tus luces iluminan con lumbre celestial.
Mensaje dulce y claro que al mundo da la paz.
O navidad hermosa, o noche sin igual.

Check out this tesoro; I think you'll be muy contento that you did.
And don't forget to peek at today's other PPBF picks {here}.


  1. Glad we both selected the book because we each wrote very different reviews giving teachers more to work with. Believe we're kindred spirits. We even posted right above and below each other. Love, love, love your activity selections -- that's what's makes your review so special. You always have great activities to share.

    1. Thank you, Pat, I loved your review, too. I felt like I hadn't done the book justice after I read it, so I appreciate your kind reflections.

  2. Such a super clever bilingual text. These activities are just awesome. I love this different take on Christmas Eve!

    1. Thank you. It totally connected with the former Spanish teacher in me! I appreciate you stopping by, Joanna. Happy holidays!

  3. Muy bien! Muy bien! I read with lots of little Hispanic readers and they have taught me a little Spanish! This book would be excellent for my holiday book bag! Thanks Ms Gruener!

  4. what fun - poems, songs, and the promise of treats...


I really enjoy hearing from my readers; thanks for sharing your reflections with us!