This book of short stories explores how New Mexico's fascinating history and geography connect people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
Meyer ( Where the Broken Heart Still Beats ; White Lilacs ) imaginatively explores multicultural aspects of the American Southwest in this rich collection of linked short stories. As part of a fund-raising project, a class of 15 junior-high students attending a ``magnet'' school in Rio Grande decides to write and sell a volume of personal essays about life in New Mexico, past and present; each chapter here focuses on a different member of the class. The students are ethnically diverse--Native American, Hispanic, African American and Anglo--and their experiences while researching the essays prove to be as wide-ranging as their chosen topics. Rosa Gonzales plans to recount the legend of La Llorona, the wailing woman, until a run-in with the lady apparition convinces Rosa to choose a ``safer'' subject. Native Americans Ricky Begay and Pauline Romero turn to relatives to provide information about traditional art forms of their tribes. Others dig deep into their own families' pasts to discuss religious practices or to chronicle their favorite heroes. Meyer's mixture of contemporary voices, engrossing histories and vibrant heritages is enlightening, and will be valued not only by the target audience but by older readers as well. Ages 8-12. (June)