Florence and the Butterflies

Material Information

Florence and the Butterflies
Series Title:
Florence and the Butterflies
Gould, Richard
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Center for Colorado and the West
Publication Date:

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Source Institution:
Auraria Library
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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Florence and the Butterflies | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 9:42:41 AM] Home Florence and the ButterfliesFlorence and the ButterfliesSubmitted by nwharton on 8-19-2012 11:13 AMAuthor: Magdalena Gallegos Publishing: Private Publisher, 2011. 140 pages. Black-and-white photographs, drawings. 6 x 9. $14.99 paperback. Reviewer: Richard Gould Reviewer Affiliation: Metropolitan State University of Denver On the most basic level, Florence and the Butterflies is a compilation of bedtime stories told to a kid growing up in Denvers west side Auraria neighborhood. In and of themselves, theyre delightful to read. But Magdalena Gallegoss new book represents something far more than a nostalgic re-telling of childhood stories. Within these stories and the commentary woven through them, we can find a character sketch of the authors remarkable mother, a glimpse into Hispanic life on the farm and in the city, inspiration on creating joy and appreciation during hard economic times, and some exploration of Gallegoss inner spiritual life. As a chronicler of the Auraria neighborhood, Gallegos goes back a long way in her writing career. In 1985 she published a piece of oral historyThe Forgotten Community: Hispanic Auraria in the Twentieth Centuryin the magazine Colorado Heritage That article recalled the working class neighborhood that lay near the confluence of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River, before the place was largely demolished in 1972 to make way for the Auraria Higher Education Center. In 1991 she directed another oral history project which culminated in the publication of Auraria Remembered This was reprinted in its entirety in 2011 within a third publication: Where the Rivers Meet In recounting her mothers stories, Gallegos adds another, more personal dimension, to her previous work on Auraria. Before ending up in Denver, Gallegos mom, Florence, traveled with her family from Rhode, New Mexico, to northern Colorado, where they worked the beet fields and lived in the towns of Greeley and Keenesburg. Hence, her stories preserve the memories of both rural and urban life. There is, for instance, a Christmas story in which grandma Lucy Torres trades eggs for a bit of pork to make Christmas tamales. In that tale the children wonder at the unheard of idea of receiving Christmas gifts. Maybe Santa Claus is German, speculates one of the boys, aware of the nationality of the farms owner, Mr. Burger (7). There is the story of the new shoes, which includes a description of the one-room shack Florence once lived in and the flour-sack nightgown she slept in. The shoes she wears to her first day of school are boys shoesugly and high-topped, the target of mocking laughter from the other girls, but also the source of life-affirming lessons. EXPLORE BY MEDIABook Reviews Photographs Video Biographies New Publications Resource Guides County Newspaper HistoriesEXPLORE BY TOPICLand & Natural Resources Government & Law Agriculture Mining Commerce & Industry Transportation People & Places Communication Healthcare & Medicine Education & Libraries Cultural Communities Recreation & Entertainment Tourism ReligionEXPLORE BY CULTUREHispanic Native AmericanThe Ute people have lived in Colorado longer than anyone else.


Florence and the Butterflies | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 9:42:41 AM] Auraria Library 303-556-4587 1100 Lawrence Street Denver, Colorado 80204 In the News Partners & Donations About Us Contact Us The stories are alive, too, with a mothers wisdom and a mothers creativity. God gave every creature a job to do, says Florence to her daughter, who was truly frightened of bees (50). If a lost balloon left a child crying, she would tell him about Balloon Heaven. She taught the kids to play in the dirt with magical tools of spoons and forks, and enchanted them at meals with mashed-potato snowmen replete with raisin eyes and carrot noses. The illustrations are wonderful. Pay particular attention to Gallegoss four-year-old great-granddaughter as she twirls like a top to make her dress mushroom out just as Grandma Florence used to do (22). Theres little Florence hanging on the water pump, barely heavy enough to pull the handle down (29). And theres Florence as a mom with laughing eyes and beautiful smile (137)a smile that displays vitality and amusement with life. The butterfly storyfirst told in a 1985 issue of Colorado Heritage completes the Florence saga. Butterflies appear as symbols repeatedly in the family lore, and Gallegos connects them to her moms story in quite an intimate and moving fashion. All in all, Florence and the Butterflies is a rewarding read and a clear contribution to Colorado and Hispanic literature. Reviewer Info: Richard Gould is currently employed as a researcher for the Hispanic Legislator Project at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He is the author of The Life and Times of Richard Castro: Bridging a Cultural Divide (Denver: Colorado Historical Society, 2007), which won the Colorado Book Award.