Meet Josephina by Valerie Tripp, edited by Peg Ross and illustrated by Jean Paul Tibbles is part of the American Girls Collection (1997). Josephina is a nine-year-old girl who lives on a rancho with her father and three older sisters in Santa Fe, Mexican Territory. Her mother has died and the family is still coping with her death.

The story begins with the girls washing clothes at the stream. Josephina picks some flowers as she walks along the path. The girls are also daydreaming about what their abuelito (grandfather) will bring from Mexico City. He is a trader and leads caravans through the Mexican Territory. Each of the girls is dreaming of a gift. Meanwhile a herd of goats make their way to the stream. There is one goat Josephina does not like and he eats her flowers. She secretly asks for her abuelito to bring her courage to stand up to the goat.

After the washing, it is siesta time. The girls know the caravan will arrive soon, but they must wait. When it does pull up, each girl is excited to see the surprises. But no one expects Tia Dolores, Josephina’s aunt, to have come from Mexico City. A party is planned for later. Josephina wants to surprise Tia Dolores with flowers. She hides them, but the goat finds them again and eats them. Josephina is angry but Tia Dolores is honored by her gift. Tia Dolores adds much to Josephina’s family life–singing, music, planting flowers and courage. Finally, Josephina and her sisters decide to ask Papa if Tia Dolores may stay. They agree to ask her. What will Tia Dolores say to the offer?

The book provides a picture of rancho life in the era of Josephina and teaches some Spanish words. Meet Josephina is great for girls from 9 to 12 years old who want to learn what life was like for a young girl in 1824. The book is the first in a series.

Kristina O’Brien is a mother of twin girls, an avid reader and a credentialed teacher. She has taught both middle school and high school history. She is currently a stay-at-home mom and enjoys raising her two girls.