… And Now Miguel

046320NEWBERY MEDAL WINNER – 1954

… and Now Miguel

by Joseph Krumgold
illustrated by Jean Charlot

Age: 8 +

Interests: coming of age stories, farming, family, siblings, New Mexico, sheep, religion, responsibility


Fitzhenry & Whiteside: 1953

245 pages, 14 chapters

A 12-year-old boy strives to be treated like a grownup on a sheep ranch in New Mexico. Miguel is the middle son in a close Hispanic-American family, and he longs to go with the men this year up into the mountains to summer the sheep. This novel traces his efforts to be taken more seriously in the months leading up to the departure. He tells his little brother and sister that he has a plan but he doesn’t, really. No matter how hard he tries to shine in whatever duties he is given, his father insists he will not go with them this year. His last chance is to pray to the patron saint of farmers, San Ysidro, to make his wish come true. In the end, he does get his wish, but not in the way he’d like – his older brother is drafted into the army, and Miguel takes his place in the sheep drive.

This is a deceptively simple narrative, one that provides more information about sheep than you ever wanted to know, but the inner logic and musings of this unusual and thoughtful boy are really well drawn. I particularly liked how his most careful thoughts become scrambled whenever he blurts them out to his father or another adult. He is clearly rattled by grownups, and must learn to think carefully before speaking and try harder to make his meaning clear. At the end of the book there is a very long passage in which he discusses his theories of prayer and having wishes come true with his brother Gabriel, who at last understands him completely.

In Miguel we find a compelling portrayal of early adolescence – that strange mixture of childish weaknesses and mature strengths, and above all the passionate desire to be treated as an adult. While Miguel is able to work diligently and well, he also falls prey to immature bouts of embarrassment, preferring to hide when he does something wrong and the men laugh at him. At the same time he observes and learns from everything that goes on around him, understanding it in his own idiosyncratic way.

A quiet inner narrative of a young boy on the cusp of playing a grownup role in his family’s business, and his musings on faith, wishes, and sheep. It is, however, a little slow, and requires a patient, thoughtful reader. It may be a better pick as a read-aloud.

Particularly noteworthy: The illustrations are by Jean Charlot, a prominent artist and muralist, and they are marvellous. (See examples below.)

Not particularly noteworthy: There was a film made in 1966 with the same title, I can’t find out much about it, but judging by its poster (“Amid icy peaks and taloned terror… the Inspired TRUE story of an incredible adventure”) it has little to nothing to do with the actual plot of this novel!

(this title available at amazon.com)

charlot - Version 2

Illustration by Jean Charlot; from “…And Now Miguel” by Joseph Krumgold

Illustration by Jean Charlot; from "...And Now Miguel" by Joseph Krumgold

Illustration by Jean Charlot; from “…And Now Miguel” by Joseph Krumgold

Illustration by Jean Charlot; from "...And Now Miguel" by Joseph Krumgold

Illustration by Jean Charlot; from “…And Now Miguel” by Joseph Krumgold

Illustration by Jean Charlot; from "...And Now Miguel" by Joseph Krumgold

Illustration by Jean Charlot; from “…And Now Miguel” by Joseph Krumgold

Illustration by Jean Charlot; from "...And Now Miguel" by Joseph Krumgold

Illustration by Jean Charlot; from “…And Now Miguel” by Joseph Krumgold

Illustration by Jean Charlot; from "...And Now Miguel" by Joseph Krumgold

Illustration by Jean Charlot; from “…And Now Miguel” by Joseph Krumgold

Illustration by Jean Charlot; from "...And Now Miguel" by Joseph Krumgold

Illustration by Jean Charlot; from “…And Now Miguel” by Joseph Krumgold

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. debbievida
    Sep 13, 2016 @ 03:40:00

    Joseph Krumgold was involved in the world of motion pictures from a young age. His father built and his uncle sold silent movie houses in New Jersey, while another uncle played the organ. Joseph grew up to write several screenplays. …AND NOW MIGUEL has an interesting history in film. Krumgold created it originally as a documentary for the State Department, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSO36ZeJyvE). At the instigation of the publisher Thomas Y. Crowell, Krumgold adapted his documentary into his first Newbery winning novel. In 1966 that novel was made into a Universal feature film, starring Pat Cardi (as Miguel), Michael Ansara (Blas Chavez)…

    Reply

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.