Carla Aragón’s Dance of the Eggshells is a sweet story about Easter traditions being handed down in a family, from grandparents to their grandchildren.
In the story, Grandma Socorro teaches Libby and her brother J.D. how to prepare and decorate eggs for the Easter party, the baile de los cascarones, the dance of the eggshells. Grandma Socorro blows the eggs, then rinses them and lets them dry. After that, Libby and her grandmother fill the eggshells with confetti. Then they seal the eggshells and decorate them for the baile, the dance.
At the dance, you ask someone to dance with you by breaking a confetti-filled egg over (or sometimes on) their head! By the end of the party, everyone has confetti and bits of eggshell like colorful snow in their hair and on their shoulders.
The dance is held a week after Easter every year. Grandma Socorro explains that, in the old days, for all of Lent, no one ate meat and no one danced. When Easter came, people gathered from miles around. It was time to join family and friends to celebrate with feasting and dancing.
Libby’s family lives in New Mexico. Their Easter traditions developed during the Spanish colonial period. Orthodox children will enjoy comparing the traditions of Libby’s family with their own. Much is the same: fasting during Lent, wearing traditional clothes for a festival, learning traditional dances, decorating and smashing eggs. But everything that is the same is different at the same time.
The book is bilingual, written in English and translated into Spanish by the author’s mother, Socorro Aragón, and her uncle, George Gonzales. The English and Spanish appear side by side. I’m not fluent in Spanish by any means, but I can read enough to tell that it isn’t a word-for-word translation. Instead, it’s a graceful and idiomatic retelling of the story. An older child who is learning Spanish might enjoy studying the two versions of the story, to see how they are the same and how they differ.
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Easter Picture Books Keep Pascha Present: You don’t have to put away the Easter picture books the day after Pascha. Keep them out, keep reading them, all the way to Pentecost.
17 essential picture books for Orthodox Christian kids: If you’re looking for picture books that include stories about Orthodox Christian people and traditions, you’ll find them on this list.