THE BURRO OF ANGELITOS
By Peggy Pond Church
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The Burro of Angelitos, charming and beautifully illustrated as it is, delightful to children and their adults, is actually a bit of a political statement. In 1930s New Mexico, artists, writers and ethnologists were convinced that the coming of modernity would mean the end of a way of life that they found original and beautiful and unique. Fortunately, the adventures of this independent little burro of the past, in a community that might be one of several villages still to be found in Northern New Mexico, will charm us today.
While some might expect Tranquilidad de Oñate, the burro’s companion, to be a caricature, Gigi Johnson, the illustrator of this book, saw him as a handsome representation of an isolated, beautiful lifestyle that is now history. However, he is also a man who needs to find meaning in his life, as Peggy Pond Church intended, and as a small lesson in the story for children. The humor in the language of the book will bring smiles, especially when read aloud, while the quality of the illustrations enrich the lovely story revived so handsomely by Sunstone Press.
Margaret Hallett Pond, who became known as Peggy Pond Church, was born on a ranch in the Territory of New Mexico in 1903 at a place called Valmora. She was the daughter of Ashley Pond Jr., son of a wealthy Detroit attorney, and Hazel Hallett Pond, the granddaughter of a former governor of Arkansas who retired from politics to become a rancher in Mora County. As a teenager, Peggy was sent to boarding schools in California and Connecticut, and by the time she entered Smith College, her poetry had already achieved recognition and won awards. Peggy married Fermor Spencer Church in 1924 and they were the parents of three sons.
In addition to The Burro of Angelitos, originally published in 1936, she is the author of Foretaste and Familiar Journey (both in new editions from Sunstone Press), as well as Ultimatum for Man and The House at Otowi Bridge among others.
She died October 23, 1986, a date of her “own choosing.”
In 2010, a children’s story written by Peggy in the 1930s was published as a bilingual book titled Shoes for the Santo Niño, and in 2011 the story was adapted to become a children’s opera.
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8 1/2 x 11