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Song of the Swallows

  • Written and illustrated by Leo Politi

    Song of the Swallows, which won the Caldecott Medal when it was first published in 1948, was written and illustrated by Leo Politi, one of Los Angeles's most beloved artists. It tells the famous story of the yearly return of the swallows to the Mission San Juan Capistrano through the eyes of a small child. Julian, the bell ringer of the Mission, tells Juan, a young boy who also lives at the Mission, the story of the swallows and how, without anyone really knowing why or how, they return each year from their winter home in South America to San Juan Capistrano in California. Thrilled by the story, Juan makes his own small garden in the hope that at least one family of swallows will nest there when they return.

    This delightful book includes the music and lyrics for "La Golondrina," a song about the swallows that Politi composed himself. With Spanish phrases sprinkled throughout the story, the book provides an introduction for young children to California's centuries-old Latino heritage and Mission culture.

    Ages six and up.

    Leo Politi wrote and illustrated dozens of children's books, many of which are set in the Latino communities of Southern California. 

    “Politi published over twenty children’s books, including his most famous work, Song of the Swallows, winner of the 1950 Caldecott Medal for ‘most distinguished American picture book for children.’ His books are celebrated for their cultural diversity, historical depictions of Los Angeles, and Politi’s unique ability to depict the playful curiosity of childhood.”
    —Tina Princenthal, Los Angeles Public Library Blog

    32 pages
    8 x 10 inches
    19 color illustrations
    ISBN 978-0-89236-989-8

    Getty Publications
    Imprint: J. Paul Getty Museum