Zozobra!: The Story of Old Man Gloom
The crisp September evening in Santa Fe is going to be special. It's the annual burning of Old Man Gloom or Zozobra.* He stands across the large park where thousands of people gather--a fifty-foot sourpuss puppet whose gaping mouth and neon eyes make him appear dismal, which is his job. When Zozobra burns into smoldering ash, so, too, will people's gloomy thoughts disappear--or so everyone hopes.
As with any spectacle worthy of the name, the lights, music, fireworks, and sense of frenzied expectation make the experience unforgettable--and this book vividly documents the evening. It takes us behind the scenes to the days and weeks before, where we see the construction of Zozobra. We get to go along to the practices of the Gloomies--those select few eight- and nine-year-old boys and girls who perform a dance as ghosts around Zozobra just before he burns.
Most importantly we are given the best seat in the park to watch the burning of Zozobra. We see Zozobra move, hear his protest at his coming fate, watch in wonder, fear, and joy as first the Fire Dancers and then the Gloomies and the Queen of Gloom fulfill their appointed tasks in the ceremony. And suddenly shouts of "Burn him! Burn him!! Burn him!!!" catch us in their frenzy, and we, too, join the chant.
This book is the perfect companion for anyone who has seen Zozobra burn or hopes to, and it is also a skillful way to introduce children to how we recognize and deal with worries and woes.
*Zobobra name and image are copyrighted by the Santa Fe Downtown Kiwanis Club.
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