Christmas in Los Angles, California, c. 1946

Pedro, The Angel of Olvera Street by Leo Politi was published in 1946. It’s a little picture book that tells the story of Pedro who lives on Olvera Street in Los Angeles with his grandfather. Pedro’s grandfather plays the violin, and Pedro “sings like an angel.”

This talent gets Pedro a special part in the Christmas posadas procession:

This year Manuel thought of something that would make the procession even more beautiful. He had heard Pedro sing and he had heard people say, “Pedro sings like an angel.” So he said:
“We must have an angel to lead La Posada.”
He was so pleased with his idea that he hurried to Tomaso’s presto and asked him to make two little red wings for Pedro.

Leo Politi was an Italian American author and illustrator. He was born in Fresno, California in 1908, but he grew up from the age of seven in Italy, near Milan. At the age of 22, he left Italy and returned to California. Mr. Politi began his career as an artist in Los Angeles on Olvera Street, painting and sketching alongside Mexican American artisans for the tourists and other buyers who came through the Latino part of the city. Mr. Politi began to write books as well as illustrate them with his first book, Panchito or Little Pancho, published in 1938. Pedro, the Angel of Olvera Street was Mr. Politi’s second book, and it gave and still gives children who discover it a wonderful appreciation for the traditional Catholic and Mexican Christmas customs of Las Posadas, the piñata, and the music and food of a Mexican American Christmas.

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