Meet Josefina: An American Girl is the first book in the Josefina series. It was included with the Josefina doll when purchased until the release of BeForever and could be purchased separately; it is now part of Sunlight and Shadows and later Josefina: Sunlight and Shadows.



Chapter by Chapter Summary

The book has a paragraph at the start of the book explaining that Josefina and her family speak Spanish, and that there are Spanish words in the text. It also explains that in Spanish, Js are pronounced like an English H and thus Josefina is pronounced "ho-se-FEE-na."

Chapter One: Primroses

Josefina is humming to herself as she waits on her sisters. She and her sisters are heading to the stream to do the laundry. Josefina likes these kinds of days to stand in front of her house while life goes on around her on the rancho; she enjoys the smells, sounds, and sights of the activity around her from all the animals and people. In the distance she can see Papá, who is on horseback and talking to workers near the cornfield. The rancho has belonged to their family for over one hundred years. The work is hard and can fluctuate every years with failures and successes, but the rancho goes on and provides Josefina and her family everything they need to live. Josefina loves the rancho and thinks it is the most beautiful place in New Mexico and the world.


The sisters go to the creek to wash.

Josefina dances impatiently along with the song she is humming when Ana, her oldest sister, comes outside to join her. Ana says that Josefina reminds her of a little bird with her singing and hopping. Josefina replies, grinning, that she could have flown back and forth twenty times with how long she's been waiting, and asks where Francisca and Clara are. Ana sighs and says they're coming. They couldn't agree on who should carry the washing tub. The sisters look at each other and shake their heads. While they get along well, Francisca and Clara argue all the time. The two come out eventually; Francisca has won the argument and is only carrying a basket of clothes on her head while Clara has the copper tub. Josefina sets her basket in the tub and offers to help carry it with Clara; Clara thanks her but sounds more grumpy than grateful. Josefina knows how to cheer her up and suggests they race to the stream. Francisca protests, but Josefina and Clara have already taken off, and Ana and Francisca run after them.

The girls fly down the path to the stream; Josefina and Clara arrive first, plunk down the tub, get their moccasins off, and run into the shallow water. They splash Ana and Francisca. Francisca holds the basket up to her face and cries for them to stop. Ana scolds gently that they are there to wash what's in the baskets, not on them. Josefina and Clara stop, being out of breath anyways, and they prepare to wash. The copper pot is filled with water from the stream. Josefina gets out yucca root from her waist pouch and begins to pound it with a rock for suds. She then washes a shirt and rinses it out in the stream. She thinks about how water is the life of the rancho.

She twists the shirt to wring out the water and spreads it on top of a bush, saying aloud that the sun and breeze will dry the clothes quickly. Ana agrees and says that Mamá would says that God has brought a good washing day, and that Monday is laundry day even in heaven. Francisca then says that she would have also told them to pull their rebozos up to shade their faces. The girls laugh softly and then go quiet. Mama died a little over a year ago and the memory of her death is with them. Josefina looks at the stream. Since Mamá's death, Josefina has learned that love does not end; she will always love and miss her mama.

Francisca breaks the silence by pointing out evening primroses growing on the other side of the stream and how much Mamá liked them. Clara agrees and suggests that Josefina pick some for her memory box. Papá has given Josefina a wooden box of Mamá's that Josefina is keeping small things that remind her of Mamá. The quickest and driest way to the other side of the stream is over a fallen log; Josefina climbs up and holds her arms out for balance. Ana warns her to be careful. Josefina does not think of herself as brave as she is scared of many things, but she is not scared of crossing the log. She goes across, picks the primroses, and tucks the stems in her pouch with the flowers sticking out. She decides to tease Ana on the way back, and pretends to lose her balance. Ana can tell she is teasing and says that she will tease the life out of her. Josefina jumps to the ground and says that Ana sounds like their grandfather, Abuelito. She talks like him, and the sisters all say the same line he says after every journey—that the trips will make him old before his time. Abuelito is a trader and once a year organizes a caravan from New Mexico to Mexico City. The many goods are then traded and brought back to New Mexico. He has been gone six months and the girls are excited as he is due back any day; the rancho is the last stop before Santa Fe, where he lives. Josefina anticipates his return not only for the things Abuelito brings but the stories he brings of the caravan.

Francisca dreamily swirls a shirt in the water, saying that she will go on the caravan someday, see everything there is, and the settle in Mexico City with Tiá Dolores—whom she is sure lives in a grand house and knows elegant people. Clara rolls her eyes and says this is ridiculous, as they hardly know her; she moved to Mexico City over ten years ago and none of the family have seen her since then. Francisca smiles a superior smile and says that she's older was almost six when she left, so she remembers. Clara replies tartly that if Tiá Dolores remembers Francisca, she certainly won't want to live with her! Francisca almost says something sharp when Josefina cuts in, asking Ana what she hopes Abuelito has brought for her on the caravan in order to keep the peace. Ana says she would like shoes for her sons. Clara hopes that they have the plow Papá needs. Francisca says that's dull and she's hoping for new lace. Clara says that Francisca thinks too much on her looks. Before Francisca can reply Josefina interrupts and says that they all hope for one thing—chocolate. Francisca and Clara say they want lots at the same time and laugh at each other. Ana says that Josefina hasn't said what she wants and perhaps she's hoping for a surprise. Josefina says perhaps.

She's not sure she can name what she wishes for actually; she wants life to be like it was before Mamá died. After Mamá died, Josefina was devastated and felt the world was cruel for continuing without her; however, life went on on the ranch and was her best comfort. The girls try their hardest to do things the way their mother would, including prayers and manners. It is hard, though, without Mamá. Josefina looks at the primroses and thinks of Mamá; she had such faith in them all and brought out the best in them, but without her the sisters are struggling. Francisca and Clara fight, Ana worries, Josefina feels lost and unsure, and their father is very quiet. She doesn't think the caravan can bring anything to help them.

Clara says that a surprise is coming right now but not one she'll like. Josefina looks up and sees a small herd of goats. She dislikes goats, especially the one named Florecita whom she is scared of. She frowns when she sees that Florecita is there. Ana tells Josefina shouldn't dislike these goats as they are the private herd. The goats are kept close to provide milk and cheese and used to belong to Mamá; she left the herd to the girls at her death. Josefina wishes she hadn't as she greatly dislikes them. Mamá used to protect her from the goats and Josefina is sure Mamá never intended her to have anything to do with them, so she avoids them.


Josefina in the creek with Florecita.

Florecita heads straight for Josefina; Francisca warns that she wants the primroses Josefina has. Josefina puts her hand over them. They could be the last ones of the year and she does not want to give them up. She tries feebly to shoo away Florecita, and her sisters are more forceful. Florecita doesn't slow down, and even though her sisters give her advice on shooing her away, Josefina only backs away as she's been poked by Florecita's horns and doesn't want it to happen again. She scrambles on top of the log she crossed; Florecita keeps coming, and Josefina steps backwards until she misses her footing and falls into the stream hard with a splash. All but one sprig of the primroses falls out of her pouch and float on the water, where Florecita snatches them up and eats them before rejoining the herd.

Ana helps Josefina to her feet and asks if she is okay, saying that she shouldn't let Florecita bully her the way she does. Josefina wrings out her skirt and jokes that she tried standing up to her but ended up sitting down. She laughs with her sisters but is very annoyed with Florecita—but more annoyed that she let Florecita scare her. She looks at the remaining sprig and thinks of something else the caravan can't bring her—the courage to stand up to Florecita.

Chapter Two: Abuelito's Surprise


Josefina and Papá.

The afternoon sun is quite strong; Josefina takes a drink from the water jar. She has woken up before everyone else on the rancho after their siesta. Papa heard that the caravan is due that afternoon, and everyone is getting ready for the arrival. Josefina scoops some of the water up to cool her cheeks and pours the water out on the flowers nearby. Mamá had started growing them in a protected corner of the back courtyard from seeds Tia Dolores sent her; Josefina tended the flowers with her and now tends for them on her own. She sprinkles the remaining water on the flowers. Papá says that he is glad that Josefina remembers to water her mama's flowers, catching her attention, and continues that things grew well under her care. Josefina agrees and says she liked flowers. Papá notes that Florecita likes them too, and Josefina blushes. Papá tells her that she will stand up to Florecita once she is ready, then takes a drink from the water gourd. Josefina thinks about how she is like her father, how quiet he has become after her death, and how beloved and respected her mother was by all the people in the village. Papa tips the last drops of water on the flowers, smiles at Josefina, and heads out the gate towards the fields.


Josefina and Ana in the kitchen with their sisters.

Josefina takes the water jar back to the kitchen where her sisters are working. Ana notes her return; her hands are covered in flour and she is sweating from the heat (which is also making her face red and her hair frizzy). Various things are cooking and smelling good. The rancho holds a big fandango when the caravan arrives, and various friends and neighbors come and celebrate the caravan's safe return. This is the first time Ana has been in charge, and she is quite overwhelmed even with help from Carmen, the cook, and two servants cooking tortillas. Francisca and Clara are helping as well. Ana thanks Josefina for the water, gives her a basket, and asks her to get some onions from the kitchen garden. Francisca offers to go with her to get tomatoes. Josefina gathers the onions; she then stands up suddenly, and Francisca does so too and they look at each other. Francisca starts to speak but is shushed by Josefina. Josefina listens hard, and recognizes the sound of the caravan approaching. The girls grab their baskets and run back through the gate and into the kitchen, dropping their baskets and announcing that the caravan is coming. Clara follows them as they run out the kitchen and to the tower.

Josefina looks out of the lower part of the window while Clara and Francisca look out the upper part. First there is dust, then the sounds of the caravan approaching and the village church bell ringing, and finally the people, animals, and carts that make up the large caravan, including soldiers, mules, oxen, and muleteers. There are also some of the Native American and villagers walking along to meet the caravan. Francisca leans on Josefina's shoulders and stands on tiptoe to see better, asking if she loves to think about all the places the caravan has been and the things it's bringing. Josefina says yes; the caravan brings things from all over the world right up to their front door. The many members of the caravan stop between the village and rancho to set up camp; others camp closer in a shaded area near the stream. Josefina sees Papá ride his horse up to Abuelito to greet him. Francisca notes that there is a tall woman next to their grandfather and wonders who she is as she is greeting their father familiarly. However, Josefina and Clara have already moved away from the window. Josefina hurries back to the kitchen and tells Ana that Papa and Abuelito are headed to the house; Ana fusses that there's so much to do before the fandango as she cleans herself up.


The sisters meet Tía Dolores.

Josefina is the first out to greet their grandfather with her sisters behind her. Abuelito hands the reins to the woman next to him and climbs down, then greets his granddaughters warmly. He gushes about the adventures they had, saying that he is getting too old for the trips and that this is his last trip to Mexico City. Francisca takes his arm and says that he says that after every trip. Abuelito says that he means it this time. He has brought a surprise and holds a hand out to the tall woman on the wagon. He then introduces her as their Tía Dolores. She has come to live with her parents in Santa Fe, and so he has no need to return to Mexico City. The girls look so surprised that Papá and Abuelito start laughing. Tía Dolores takes Abuelito's hand and swings down for the wagon seat. Papa welcomes her to the home. Tía Dolores thanks him and then turns to the sisters, greeting them each individually. She dwells longer on Josefina and even leans in to see her face and take both her hands, as she has never met her before (she was not yet born). She says she is happy to be back and it is good to see them all. The sisters smile shyly at Tía Dolores; Ana is the first to collect herself and offers Abuelito and her to come inside for a cool drink as they must be tired and thirsty. She excuses that they have not prepared a place for Tía Dolores to sleep. Tía Dolores says it is okay, as she didn't plan to come and was caring for her aunt. Her aunt passed away this spring just before the caravan's arrival and since she had no further reason to stay, she joined the caravan to come home. Abuelito says that their grandmother will be surprised to see Dolores when they arrive. The family goes into the sala and Josefina cannot take her eyes off her aunt. Francisca whispers to Josefina that Tía Dolores's dress dress is beautiful and must have sleeves from the latest European styles. Josefina has not noticed, as she is caught up with the fact that this is her mother's sister.

Abuelito begins to tell stories about the trip on the caravan; Josefina sits with her arms around his knees, happy as this reminds her of times before her mother's death. Abuelito says that the trip to Mexico City was dull, but the return trip was full of adventure and terrible danger that Tía Dolores saved them from. Tía Dolores protests, but Abuelito insists this is true and tells the story. He was glad that Dolores was coming with him and finished his business quickly. However, when packing up Dolores's things, she insisted on bringing her piano. He had insisted it was too big and heavy, but Dolores had insisted that it come along. Abuelito had complained, but had it packed on the wagon. He grumbled about it the whole way, but Dolores has not said anything and let him fuss. When they arrived at Dead Man's Canyon, they were set upon by thieves. During the fight, the cart carrying the piano was overtaken and the oxen startled, lurching the cart into a deep gully where it crashed with a loud noise that echoed off the walls and scared off the thieves. After that, the piano was placed in his cart and he didn't complain about it anymore—as her insistence on bringing it saved them. Papá compliments Dolores. Josefina asks Abuelito if the piano was hurt. Tía Dolores says that only the top was scratched and a leg was splintered, but it should sound fine. Josefina asks to see it. Abuelito says that they had to rebuild the crate and it would be too much trouble to open it. Papá clears his throat and asks to open it—he nor the girls have ever seen a piano and that he'll close the crate back up. Tía Dolores also insists and Abuelito agrees, saying that he can't say no as she did save the caravan.

Dolores kisses her father and then leads the girls out to the wagon, where the piano is in a big wooden crate. Papá pries up a few boards, and Tía Dolores opens the lid over the keys. There is not much room for her hands and she cannot stand up straight. She first plays a chord, and then a spirited tune. Josefina greatly enjoys and is especially touched by the music; it is something she has never heard before. She then realizes that Tía Dolores is expressing her joy through the music. She barely breathes until the music stops. Tía Dolores stops and says that the piano is out of tune and she's out of practice, then closes the key lid. Josefina wants to touch the keys but is too shy to ask. The family thanks her for playing and Tía Dolores says they should come see her play in Santa Fe; she can play for them and even teach them. The rest of the sisters follow Tía Dolores into the house, but Josefina stays next to the wagon until the crate is closed, wanting to stay near the piano. Once Papá has closed up the crate, he sees Josefina and notes that she liked the music. Josefina says she wished the music hadn't stopped. Papá agrees and says he wished the same, but there will be fiddle music at the fandango tonight. He then says Josefina should go get ready. She says yes and takes on last look before going inside. She wishes there was something she could do to show her appreciation for the music. In the courtyard, she thinks of a fine idea and decides to give it to her after the fandango. She is pleased with her idea and is sure Tía Dolores will be pleased as well.

Chapter Three: A Gift for Tía Dolores

Francisca tells Josefina to stand still as she brushes out Josefina's hair. Abuelito has brought the sisters blue hair ribbons and Francisca has taken charge of tying them in for Josefina. Josefina is fidgeting and wishing that Francisca would hurry up so she could go prepare her gift for Tía Dolores. Clara ties her sash and then does it again; her ribbon is already tied in. She asks if she looks all right. Josefina and Francisca are surprised as Clara generally does not worry about her appearance. Josefina worried that Francisca might be unkind, but Francisca says that Clara looks very pretty and the blue suits her. Clara is pleased and Josefina is pleased to see her sisters getting along, attributing it to Tía Dolores's presence and the fact they both admire her. Francisca finishes Josefina's hair and tells her to fly away, as she can tell she is anxious to leave. Josefina thanks her and leaves the room. The sun has since set and it is much cooler; there are small bonfires in the front courtyard. She hears Ana and Carmen thanking neighboring women who have come early and brought dishes. She slips into the kitchen, gets a small water jar, and slips out again.


Clara and Josefina outside the gran sala.

Josefina goes to the back courtyard and picks the best flowers from Mamá's flowers, putting them in the jar. She is careful to break near the ground without disturbing the roots. As there aren't many flowers, Josefina has to take almost all of them. The corner looks bare when she is through, but Josefina thinks that it's okay and Mamá would approve as Tía Dolores is the one who sent her the flowers. She thinks the flowers look scrawny, so she takes out her hair ribbon and ties it around the bouquet. Wanting the bouquet to be a surprise, she looks for a place to hide it. She bumps into Papá at the passageway between the two courtyards. Papa asks her what she has and Josefina explains shyly that they're a gift to Tía Dolores for the music.It's dark, but Josefina can tell he is smiling by his voice. Papá says this is a fine idea. He is going to formally introduce Dolores to their friends and neighbors tonight, and suggests she give the bouquet to her them. Josefina agrees and Papá says it will be a secret until then. Josefina thanks him and puts the flowers under the bench in the passageway to hide them.

Guests keep arriving, greeting each other as they go to the gran sala, which is lit up with candles. The musicians start playing on their fiddles and the guests and family start dancing in a whirl of colors. Francisca is one of the fastest dancers, and looks the happiest. Ana has also put aside her responsibilities and is dancing with her husband Tomás. The older women holding the babies for the younger mothers are clapping the babies' hands in time to the music. Josefina and Clara are too young to dance in the grand sala, so they are sitting outside in the courtyard and leaning in on the windowsill to look at the dancers. Josefina's feet are dancing with the music, though, as she cannot simply sit still. Every once in a while they can hear Abuelito retelling the story of how the piano scared off the thieves; the number of thieves gets larger with each retelling. They can also see Tía Dolores, who is noticeable because of her height and red hair. Clara asks if she dances well, and Josefina says she is as graceful as the music.

Papá comes to the window and nods, and Josefina nods back. When Clara asks what that's about, Josefina says she has a surprise and to stay there. She goes to where she left the bouquet, but it is not under the bench. She stands up and sees the jar lying on its side near the wall, and as she looks around she sees a white shape in the back courtyard—Florecita, who has broken out of her pen. Josefina almost turns to get help, but she steps on something, and soon realizes it is the remains of her bouquet—the flowers are gone and the ribbon is mud-stained. Florecita has eaten the flowers. And then Josefina realizes that Florecita is standing in the middle of what was Mamá's flowers, chewing a mouthful of stems. She has one hollyhock her mouth and all the other flowers have been completely destroyed. Florecita looks at Josefina, very satisfied with herself.

Josefina becomes furious. She hisses that Florecita is an awful animal and has ruined everything. Too mad to be scared of the goat, Josefina walks up to Florecita and yanks the flower stems out of her mouth and swats her with them angrily, saying that she hates her for killing and eating the flowers. She shoves Florecita and then takes a horn and drags her all the way to her pen and slams the gate shut, saying that she will hate her forever. She then runs all the way back to the bench and slumps on it, holding the ruined stems and fighting her tears.


Josefina and Tía Dolores outside during the fandango.

A voice asks what she is doing in the darkness—it is Tía Dolores. Josefina, hardly able to talk, explains what happened with the bouquet and the flowers. As Tía Dolores sits next to her, Josefina continues to explain that the flowers were grown from the seeds Dolores had sent Mamá and the bouquet was a gift for the music she played. Josefina had cared for them but since Florecita has torn them all up, they're dead and there will never be any more flowers. Tía Dolores listens the whole time, giving Josefina her full attention, and then asks to be shown the flowers. Josefina takes her, saying nothing is left. Tía Dolores keels down and inspects the remains of the flowers, then says not to worry, since Mamá planted the flowers well and the roots are deep. The flowers will live. She asks Josefina if she likes caring for flowers and Josefina nods. Tía Dolores says that she brought some seeds from Mexico City and offers to plant them tomorrow with Josefina—and help her wash her hair ribbon.

As they go back to the gran sala, they meet Papá at the door, who asks where Josefina was. Josefina explains about the flowers again. Papá asks if Florecita is still loose, and Josefina says she took her back to her pen—then, when he shows shock at this, explains she was so angry she that she forgot to be scared of the goat. Papá says that it's surprising where courage can come from and says that he is sorry about the flowers. Josefina says that Tía Dolores will help her plant new seeds, and Papá says that she will have to come back more often to see how they are growing. He then says they should go inside to eat, or Ana will never forgiver them for not eating what she's prepared. Josefina follows her father and aunt into the gran sala, and thinks that she did get the courage to stand up to Florecita, but not from the caravan—and that would have never happened if she hadn't picked the bouquet for Dolores. She suddenly gets an idea—quick as a flash—and the idea comes all through the night and the next day and grows into a hope.

Chapter Four: Josefina's Idea

The next morning Josefina is up earlier than normal—she quietly rolls up her sheepskins and blanket that make up her bed and goes outside. The moon is still out, but very low in the sky. Josefina goes to the kitchen, where Carmen is working on grinding the corn for the morning meal while her husband Miguel starts the kitchen fires. She nods to Josefina and gives her a water jar to fill, as she does every morning. Josefina feels this morning is different, as Tía Dolores is going to spend the day with her and her sisters. She goes out of the smaller door in the front gate and makes her way to Abuelito's wagon, sticking her finger in the crate that has Tía Dolores's piano to touch the polished wood. She then skips down to the stream. The tune that Dolores played stays in her head all day as she does her early morning chores, and she even hears the tune in the church bell that rings for prayers at seven a.m. and in the prayers the family does at their family altar.

The music and Tía Dolores are with Josefina everywhere. At breakfast, Tía Dolores says she wants to learn as much as she can about the rancho. Josefina takes her through the orchard, past the cornfields, and to the stream where they fill their water jugs to water the kitchen garden. They also pick pumpkins to take to Santa Fe; Tía Dolores is sure that Abuelita does not have pumpkins so large. Dolores has something to praise everywhere she goes, including the weaving room where she praises Clara's dyed wools. She shows Clara a faster way to knit a sock's heel and Francisca how to sew a patch so it barely shows. Josefina is in the back courtyard clearing the dead stems away when Tía Dolores comes out with her seeds; she will help for a while as she is going to go help Ana bake bread. She starts digging the holes for the seeds and says that Ana has a lot of responsibilities. Josefina agrees, saying that it's hard for Ana as Mamá ran things so smoothly and Ana doesn't always know what to do without Mamá to teach her. Dolores says that she has her sisters to help her, and Josefina nods slowly and says that they try. As Tía Dolores gives her a questioning look, Josefina says that Francisca and Clara fight so much because they are so different, and Mamá stopped the arguments before. Ana is not forceful enough and Josefina tries to joke away the arguments but it doesn't always work. Tía Dolores says that sisters disagree and talks about how she and Mamá fought often growing up, and that Mamá probably found her a pest. She tells a story about when she took her sister's best sash and lost it—which angered her sister so much she didn't speak to her for days but finally forgave her. Josefina realises she misses Mamá very much. She says she wishes that Tía Dolores would be there to protect the flowers. Tía Dolores says that Josefina can protect them and will keep the flowers safe now.


Tia Dolores gives Josefina her garnet necklace.

After the mid-day meal, Tía Dolores gathers the girls in the family sala and presents the girls with gifts she has brought them. Ana is pleased by the brightly colored silk rebozo she has received. Tía Dolores gives Francisca a sewing diary with sketches of dresses, samples of fabric, and notes on making the dresses. Francisca says that the dresses are elegant and she wishes that Tía Dolores could be there to help make them as she fears she'll sew a sleeve on upside down. When Tía Dolores says the notes will help, Francisca says none of them can read. Tía Dolores is surprised, but says that they will use their good sense and if the sisters help each other they will do well. Clara has received scissors and some sewing needles, pleasing her as the gift is both lovely and practical. Finally, Tía Dolores gives Josefina a garnet necklace, which she puts on with shakey hands. Francisca says that the necklace is quite grown-up, but doesn't argue any further when Tía Dolores says that Josefina is quite grown-up too. Ana asks how Tía Dolores knew what the perfect gifts for each of them would be, and she explains that he many stories from Abuelito and the letters that Mamá dictated told her about them even while she was so far away. Ana apologises that they have no gifts for her, and Tía Dolores says the day with them is all the gift she wants.

That afternoon, Abuelito and Tía Dolores go to the village to pray at Mamá's grave and visit Papá's oldest sister. The sisters sit in a corner of the front courtyard near the kitchen. Ana's sons are in the kitchen with Carmen; the sisters are peeling back the husks from roasted corn to braid into a string and dry. Josefina says it has been nice having Tía Dolores there and Ana agrees, saying that she has been kind to her sons. Clara says she is sensible and hardworking, which is praise from her; Francisca says that sounds dull and that she thinks of her as elegant and graceful. Josefina decides to present her idea and says quietly that they could ask Tía Dolores to stay. The other three are too surprised to say anything, and

The sisters work with the corn.

Josefina goes on that she could help them the same she did today. Francisca says she won't stay as she is used to a grand life and won't want to be on a mere rancho. Josefina points out that she enjoyed hearing about the rancho when Abuelito came to visit, and that she doesn't act fancy or put on airs. Ana says that she probably came home to get married and start a family of her own. Josefina says she doesn't have to stay forever, just a few months—and that they are her family. Clara picks up some ears of corn and puts them in her lap, then says that even if Tía Dolores would be willing to stay, they can't ask her directly and have to have their father approve of the idea. Josefina's heart sinks as she knows Clara is right. Clara asks who wants to present the idea to Papá as she certainly doesn't--and when she asks Josefina if she will as it was her idea, Josefina says no in a small voice. Ana says she couldn't as it would appear she was complaining and shrinking her responsibilities. Francisca says that she's not afraid to talk to Papá; she'll march up to him and say that he must ask her. The other three sisters look at each other and know this can't be done—while Papá isn't stern or cold, he is the patrón and so much be approached politely and respectfully. Josefina says that they can all go together, so Papá can see they all wish her to stay. Ana and Clara don't move, and Josefina says that she'll do the talking if they won't--after all, Papá is kinder than Florecita! They find Papá near the animal pens fixing the latch. He says that the latch is stronger and there should be no more goats in the flowers. Josefina says this is good, and swallows. Francisca gives her a little shove forward, and Josefina asks if he will ask Tía Dolores to stay for a while—to help them and teach the way Mamá did. Papá looks sad for a moment, and he turns away and says he'll consider it. Francisca starts to protest and Josefina tugs on her sleeve and frowns to stop her, then thanks her father before adding that they need their aunt before leaving.

That night as they are getting ready for bed, Francisca wonders what their father will do and if he will speak to Tía Dolores. Josefina hopes so. Francisca wonders what she will say, and Josefina says she doesn't know. Clara says there is no need to worry about it—they will know in the morning because the caravan is leaving tomorrow. Francisca says she hates waiting—the sisters all smile at each other, as they agree. The next morning, Francisca is up and dressed with her sisters next to Abuelito's wagon. They watch the servants load up Abuelito's trunk—and then they load up Tía Dolores's. Francisca groans that Papá didn't ask her, and Ana says that he did but she said no. Clara says she doesn't want to stay. Josefina is so disappointed she can't talk, and when she hears her father, aunt, and grandfather she gets a lump in her throat. She suddenly can't bear to tell them goodbye and slips back into the house and to the empty gran sala, remembering how it looked during the fandango. She then sees a large dark shape in the corner—Tía Dolores's piano. She realizes that she wouldn't just leave the piano behind and runs out to the courtyard and to the front gate, where Tía Dolores catches her in her arms. She explains that she is going to Santa Fe to see her mother, as she hasn't seen her for ten years—and then she'll comes back and stay as long as she's needed. Josefina hugs Tía Dolores hard, and then swings herself into the wagon. Abuelito pretends to be cross, saying that to see Dolores he'll have to come and see the girls as well. He also says that it's good he doesn't have to carry the piano, so he'll have to scare off thieves with this singing. He kisses the sisters good-bye and gives them his blessing, and they all say their goodbyes as the caravan pulls off. As soon as the wagon is out of sight, Josefina goes inside to get a jar to water the flowers—she wants the flowers to be beautiful for her return. She heads to the stream, whistling Tía Dolores's tune.

Looking Back: America in 1824

Discusses life in New Mexico, before it became a state. Topics include:

  • Settlement history of the area
  • Life and how work was done by all members of families
  • Extended Mexican families
  • Spanish customs such as Catholicism and language, and the animals and foods raised
  • Pueblo Indians and their influence on the Spanish
  • Life on ranchos
  • The Camino Real, the Santa Fe Trail and trading along it
  • The Mexican War and New Mexico's later inclusion in the United States.


The book contains a glossary of the many Spanish works used in the story, an approximate pronunciation, and the meaning.

Items associated with Meet Josefina

Book Covers


  • A modified excerpt of Chapter Three was published in the Sept/Oct American Girl Magazine under the title "Josefina's Gift."
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