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Little Night/Nochecita.

I wrote Little Night during the dark, cold days of winter. It was the end of the year, and my writers' group, The Revisionaries, had unveiled its traditional holiday assignment: we were to choose two ideas to use as triggers for creating a new story. The ideas we chose that winter

were "a lost thing" and "hairdos."

I had been mesmerized for a while by my own memories of my mother doing our hair when my sisters and I were children. My mother would sit us in a chair to do pigtails, ponytails, chignons, and a long assortment of her own designs.

I also remembered that it wasn't always easy for my mother to get us girls to the hairdo chair. I mostly remember that my sister Elizabeth would disappear whenever Mama called. Most of the time Elizabeth was hiding in our bedroom or outside playing soccer with the neighborhood boys--her hair exactly the way she liked, lose and untamed like a feral child. She usually cried while Mama did her hair.

For me it was different. My hair was the longest of all; it spilled straight all the way to my waist. Mama, who had once dreamed of being a hair stylist, enjoyed braiding it, twisting it, and pinning it up with ornaments that she made herself--bread-dough flowers, felt pom-poms, knitted rosettes, or tiny yellow, pungent flowers from my aunt's tree. Until I was eleven, Mama did my hair every day.

With these memories in mind, that year of our assignment, I began to play. The idea of things lost turned into the hide-and-seek game between Mother Sky and Little Night. I know I was also influenced by the long dark hours of the winter; the night skies have always been a wonderment to me. In the end, Little Night was my personal celebration of hair and hairdos, chores and games, night, earth, and sky, but it is also a celebration of being a child and of being loved.

From Little Night / Nochecita, by Yuyi Morales, published by arrangement with the author and Neal Porter Books. Illustration [c] 2007 by Yuyi Morales. Forthcoming in April 2007 from Roaring Brook Press. To learn more, consult your local bookseller or visit the Roaring Brook website at
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Author:Morales, Yuyi
Publication:World Literature Today
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 1, 2007
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