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'Twas Nochebuena

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’Twas Nochebuena and all through our casa, every creature was kneading tamale masa...

It’s Christmas Eve, and you’re invited to a Nochebuena celebration! Follow a family as they prepare to host a night filled with laughter, love, and Latino tradition. Make tasty tamales and hang colorful adornos (decorations) on the walls. Gather to sing festive canciones (songs) while sipping champurrado (hot chocolate). After the midnight feast has been served and the last gifts have been unwrapped, it’s time to cheer, “Feliz Navidad and to all a good night!”


Savor the magic of Nochebuena with a holiday tale you’ll want to read again and again. 

32 pages, Hardcover

First published October 16, 2014

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About the author

Roseanne Thong

21 books22 followers
Also writes as Roseanne Greenfield Thong.

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5 stars
112 (37%)
4 stars
132 (44%)
3 stars
43 (14%)
2 stars
10 (3%)
1 star
0 (0%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 49 reviews
Profile Image for Kayla.
182 reviews9 followers
December 23, 2021
This is a fun, cute, and original retelling of Twas the Night Before Christmas with no mention of Santa at all. Really, the only similarities between the two stories are that they use the same rhyming pattern and rhythm, and both stories take place on Christmas Eve. Twas Nochebuena is written mostly in English with some Spanish words sprinkled in, and the whole story revolves around the special Christmas traditions that are celebrated in the Latino community. I really enjoyed this one and learned quite a bit about Latino culture.
Profile Image for Jehan Jones-Radgowski.
Author 15 books2 followers
December 19, 2014
I am always looking for good bilingual books. And a week before Christmas I stumbled upon this book in my local library. I love that the Spanish words are interspersed with the English text. Some bilingual books have the English and Spanish text on the page which ever makes a super long book or a confused page. Other books have just certain characters speaking Spanish (Think Dora Explorer style), this book has Spanish words thrown in the text flow like a natural Spanglish speak. If you don't speak Spanish (or can't pronounce Spanish words) this book may be slightly difficult. Because in order for the paragraph to make sense (and rhyme) you kinda need to know how to pronounce what you are reading.

Personally for me I almost gave this four stars instead of five because this book liek so many books this seems to me to be very Mexican-American focused (bear with me, no hate emails please). Because my Spanish speaking experience has been in the Andean and Caribbean regions, I sometimes know other words. For example, Posadas to me is a small hotel, not a walk you do on Christmas eve. But it's not Roseanne Greenfield Thong's fault that I have never lived in Mexico. LOL!

This book is beautiful. The pages are illustrated with perfection. And the added bonus is you can snuggle up familiar Mexican recuerdos American or you can learn something new, like we did.
Profile Image for Andrea.
970 reviews11 followers
December 15, 2021
I was amazed that she could follow the sound and themes of the original poem while using Spanish words that rhymed. It kept up the spirit of the original while integrating Spanish words that fit. We got to learn about Spanish culture and what they eat and do to celebrate the holiday.

The only thing was that I didn’t know there was a glossary at the back so I was lost with some of the words. Some I already knew and some were obvious because they’re close to the English word.

I wasn’t crazy about the illustrations. They were okay but not really good.
Profile Image for Jillian Heise.
2,270 reviews477 followers
December 17, 2014
A lovely "fractured" retelling of The Night Before Christmas told from a Latino perspective filled with pinatas, midnight mass, and tamales. The rhyming text includes numerous Spanish words, with a glossary at the end, and note from the author on what sparked the idea for this story. A great picture book to share at Christmas time to look at how various cultures celebrate the holiday.
5,870 reviews131 followers
December 25, 2019
'Twas Nochebuena is a children's picture book written by Roseanne Thong and illustrated by Sara Palacios. It is a book of a family preparing for a Nochebuena celebration. As today is Christmas Eve, when Nochebuena are traditionally celebrated, I thought it would be apropos to read this book.

Thong's text is simplistic and lyrical. It is written in the style of "The Night Before Christmas". The poem was written especially well and follows the rhythm and style of the original poem rather well too – even in Spanish. A nifty glossary could be found in the backmatter, which is helpful for those who don't speak Spanish. Palacios' mixed-media paintings of cheerful children, adults, and pets hum with an exuberance and anticipation that is all too familiar.

The premise of the book is rather straightforward. A girl invites readers into her family's preparations for a boisterous Christmas Eve, a feast with all the favorite trimmings, and religious observations too. Descriptions of the montones of tamales, turkey with mole sauce, and freshly fried buñuelos with cinnamon sugar have a mouth-watering effect.

All in all, 'Twas Nochebuena is a wonderful children's book done in the style of "The Night Before Christmas". It is a story about a family preparing for Nochebuena and show how it is traditionally done.
94 reviews1 follower
December 2, 2014
A Spanish language spin on 'Twas the Night Before Christmas that explains how children in a Spanish speaking country spend Christmas Eve. I thought the new spin, that keeps the original's poetic form and rhyme scheme, was very well done. It does a good job at introducing children to another culture as well as teaching them new Spanish words. The illustrations were cute. I would recommend this as a read aloud for preschoolers and early elementary aged children. Some early elementary aged children will enjoy reading this independently too.
21 reviews
January 2, 2016
WONDERFUL & ADORABLE! Even though I'm Caucasian, I've grown up in the Southwest & this book was rich w/cultural traditions & images that give me a little sense of home and wanderlust at the same time. Very positive, very encouraging - I want to buy it for my niece & other children right away! Maybe even keep a copy for myself... & great pictures - the text & images are spaced out nicely for reading along w/a child on your lap or reading to a group around a fireplace. <3
Also - it's great for teaching kids new Spanish/English vocabulary. There's a glossary of terms at the back & everything!
Profile Image for Sandie, Teen Lit Rocks.
669 reviews21 followers
December 28, 2014
I don't usually review all the picture books I read, but since I reviewed this one for Common Sense Media I figured it was worth adding: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book... Such a great read for me to share with my kids. I'm not Mexican American, but since I am Latina and my family celebrated Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day, I loved reading this book with my younger kids.
Profile Image for Amy.
910 reviews
February 23, 2016
What a great book for a bilingual audience! It's the Night Before Christmas told with Spanish words sprinkled throughout. The meter and rhyme was perfect! A glossary is a the back for translating the words. You don't have o know very much Spanish to make this work as a read-aloud. A family celebrates Christmas with lots of traditions from Mexico and Guatemala, including Midnight Mass, fireworks and posadas. Great illustrations also lend a warm and joyful feeling to the book.
Profile Image for Bethe.
5,795 reviews51 followers
December 15, 2016
Authentic feel to this Hispanic family Christmas. I fondly remember making tamales with friends. Love to watch for the pets in the pictures. Not perfect, nice rhythm and rhyme.
25 reviews1 follower
April 27, 2022
Twas Nochebuena is a picture book written by Roseanne Greenfield Thong and illustrated by Sara Palcios to share latin christmas evening tradition. It's Christmas Eve, and you are invited to a Nochebueno celebration! As the Twas's family follows tradition by making tasty tamales( dough stuffed with meat or cheese and wrapped in corn husks) and hanging colorful adornos (decorations) on the walls for the Nochebuena (Christmas evening) feast. My family and our friend are gathering to sing festive canciones (songs) while siping champurrado (hot chocalte). After the midnight feast has been served and the last gifts have been unwrapped, it's time to cheer, "Feliz Navidad (Merry Christmas) and to all good night.
This book is so far an amazing that introduces the reader to the latin culture. I like the contents and how well the book is illustrated. The little girl, her family and friends are happy to be able to spend that Nochebueno together. Through their christmas evening celebration, I did discover a new culture I was unfamiliar with. I also like how the author trough the narrator creates a little glossary of spanish words. I learned some new words like cama (bed), maravilla (wonder), siesta (nap), rico (tasty), Feliz Navidad ( Merry Christmas) etc. The book is also simple to read and to understand. It does show the joy of the christmas evening celebration. The book also brings back memories of Christmas evening in my home country Benin(West Africa). So far this is a book I am planning to read to my children to introduce them to the latin culture.
Like Twas said: Feliz Navidad!
Profile Image for Heather.
858 reviews
December 14, 2021
Dedications: they put red light ulna in Guatemala to let customers know when tamales and chuchitos are hot off the stove.
I could guess some of the words based on the original poem and what the sentence was about. Yay! I was right sometimes or at least close.
Shells on the tree.
I like reading books about other cultures and this looked cute.

They went from home to home asking for shelter; What did they do in the homes because they came back to friends at their house and then had dinner. If they weren’t eating at other people’s houses, then what were they doing?

I liked the rhyming. Following the night before Christmas but making up its own words, a Spanish version.
The illustrations were cute, my kind of style.
The fireworks page was so pretty, blue sky with pink and yellow/green fireworks.

Some of the words didn’t translate correctly; I was using google translate. Like posadas; clearly it meant parade that starts when it’s dark. But on google it was hotel or inn. That didn’t make sense to say the hotel/inn started at dark.
‘When our guests all arrive, we stroll down to the park, and join the posadas that start when it’s dark.’

There’s a glossary at the end. Le pido posada meant ‘I ask for shelter/lodging’ but there wasn’t posada on its own so I’m still unclear on that meaning.

I liked learning Spanish Christmas traditions, like how they apparently decorate with shells on their trees and the kind of food they make,& what they do for Christmas, going from door to door and playing piñata. Cute little read and informative too
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
16 reviews
January 26, 2023
This book is about a young girl who is planning to have the best “Christmas Eve”. She invites everyone to the special celebration “Nochebuena” her family is getting ready to host it and they plan to have the best night filled with laughter, love and Latino traditions. They make food and hang adornos (decorations) for very one that comes. After, enjoying all the food and music it was time to cheer “Feliz Navidad, and to all a good night”.

This book is very colorful and joyful. The book is great because it can teach us about other cultures and their traditions. Also, is show how family bonding’s are very special when it comes to holidays. I enjoyed all the great pictures it had the books shows many actions that happen in real life. Decorations, food family gatherings, pinatas, feast, presents and most importantly the bonding the family has this book shows it.

This book can be used as culture unit book. Others can read and see how the world is different and it is ok. Everyone has different traditions. Students can use this book in a compare and contrast assignment/activity. This can also be used in the language section of the class this book is a bilingual book.
55 reviews
May 1, 2021
I love how this book is in English and Spanish and the Spanish words are in italics and the translation is in the back of the book. I also enjoy reading about other cultures. I have celebrated Noche Bueno before with an old high school friend. There were a lot of tamales and I remember her family singing songs in Spanish and they would pass around a baby Jesus doll and everyone would give Jesus a kiss. And they had goody bags of Mexican pastries passed around to everyone - gifts from baby Jesus. I never made tamales before and I would like to attempt. In this children's book, the characters ate for their cena (dinner) - pozole (a stew made with chilies, pork, and hominy) and turkey mole and for dessert they had buñuelos (fritter fried in oil and covered with cinnamon) and they drank champurrado (hot chocolate drink). It would be neat to celebrate this tradition with my family. I really enjoyed this book and would like to read more books from Thong to my daughter. She is the author of many multicultural-themed children's books.
Profile Image for Lynn  A. Davidson.
5,739 reviews23 followers
January 22, 2019
This is a beautiful adaptation of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. It centers around a family who share their traditional festivities with friends on Christmas Eve. It's a lovely rhyming story, very interesting to learn how they celebrate, and written in English with Spanish words inserted in context so the reader can learn some of the language. A glossary of Spanish words is in the back. Fabulous illustrations.
Profile Image for Bee (BacchusVines).
2,114 reviews7 followers
December 31, 2020
I do not know Spanish, but this bilingual book was so good. There's keywords in Spanish, but enough context clues to help non-Spanish speaking readers to get what the narrator is saying.

I do love the illustrations. There's enough busy-ness to have my eye go from all directions but not too much to make it feel clutter.

A perfect Christmas tale, especially for immigrant families from Mexico.
Profile Image for Monica.
113 reviews
February 13, 2018
I learned Spanish easily with this darling book about a Hispanic Christmas. It follows the rhythm of ‘Twas the night before Christmas, but gives lots of information about the cultural holiday. I used this for a social studies lesson.
Profile Image for Anna.
700 reviews
December 24, 2021
Written in the familiar “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” format, I used this story to teach about Christmas traditions in other cultures. I loved that it includes lots of traditions and Spanish vocabulary to talk about.

Story: 4
Illustrations: 3
Read-aloud: 4
Profile Image for Sandy.
1,857 reviews11 followers
December 22, 2022
A cute bilingual retelling of The Night Before Christmas. Includes a glossary in the back for the Spanish words interspersed in the text (though most of it my child could figure out with context clues). A fun twist on an old classic.
Profile Image for Cindy.
243 reviews2 followers
December 24, 2019
This was a fun short story about how Christmas is celebrated in the Mexican culture. The kids loved the book and several kids were really excited to hear and talk about their culture.
Profile Image for Jeimy.
4,409 reviews33 followers
November 8, 2022
Cute book about Christmas Eve traditions in Mexico, but there was one thing that irked me to no end. In Spanish, the singular term for tamales is tamal. Who proofread this book? Grrrrr.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 49 reviews

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