Charro Claus and the Tejas Kid

By: Xavier Garza
Illustrator: Xavier Garza
Santa needs help! Abracadabra! A cowboy and his nephew become Charro Claus and the Tejas Kid!


Santa needs help! Abracadabra! A cowboy and his nephew become Charro Claus and the Tejas Kid!

Let's welcome Santa's newest helper: his cousin Pancho, a farmer living down in South Texas who is so smart he speaks Spanish and English. Back in the day, Pancho was a mariachi singer with a whole lot of style and a fancy sombrero. But as the years passed, Pancho got, well, a little older and a little wider all around. Then one night his primo Santa Claus showed up. Santa needed some help! Pancho volunteered. And then, poof, Santa transformed Pancho into the resplendent Charro Claus with his incredibly Flying Burritos. And Charro Claus, it turns out, even had his own surprise elf, his nephew Vicente!

All Christmas Eve, Vicente and Pancho deliver toys to the boys and girls on the border. Neither rain, cloudy skies, wire fences nor concrete walls keep them from covering every inch of their newly assigned territory. And they donÍt forget a single town or city. How could they? The border is their home.

A native of the Rio Grande Valley,Xavier Garza is an enthusiastic author, artist, teacher and storyteller whose work is a lively documentation of life, dreams, superstitions, and heroes in the bigger-than-life world of South Texas. Garza has exhibited his art and performed his stories in venues throughout Texas, Arizona and the state of Washington. He lives with his wife and son in San Antonio, Texas, and is the author of five books. Lucha Libre: The Man in the Silver Mask was an honor book for the Américas Award.

Awards and Accomodations

Tejas Star Book Award

9 reviews for Charro Claus and the Tejas Kid

  1. Criticas
    Gr 2-5–Vincent is spending Christmas Eve with his Tío Pancho; a retired mariachi singer who lives on an old farm near the border between Texas and Mexico. When Santa Claus arrives at the farmhouse looking for his cousin, Vincent is stunned to learn that his uncle is the jolly one’s relative. His surprise only increases as he witnesses Santa transform his uncle into his helper, Charro Claus. Santa’s magic powers also enable Pancho’s old wagon and burros to fly him back and forth along the border; a border that he considers his home, and on this magic night, neither weather nor walls will keep him from delivering presents to children. Wanting to be part of the adventure, Vincent hides inside the magic sack of presents, not realizing that this act will turn him into another one of Santa’s helpers.

    Garza’s original text and bold, full-page illustrations will surely pull readers into the excitement of this new “border” story. A wonderful acquisition for elementary and public libraries, as well as bookstores looking to enhance their bilingual Christmas offerings.

  2. School Library Journal
    (K-Gr 2) Vincent, a young Texan, is spending Christmas Eve on his uncle’s farm near the Mexican border. When Santa shows up and asks Tío Pancho to help him out, he uses magic dust to transform an old mariachi outfit into a gold-and-silver sequined marvel and his old burros into lucha libre masked Flying Burritos. Vincent tags along, helping “Charro Claus” deliver presents along the border. The text is in English and Spanish, and occasional Spanish words are sprinkled throughout the English version. The full-spread paintings are bright and energetic, depicting a brunette-bearded and caped Tío Pancho and brown-eyed Vincent enthusiastically distributing toys. A cheerful purchase.

  3. San Antonio Current
    Even Santa Claus sends the jobs he is unable or unwilling to do to Mexico. The jolly old outsourcer enlists his primo Pancho to deliver presents along the Texas-Mexico border, and his young nephew Vincent stows away in the present sack, in this colorful storybook by local author-illustrator Xavier Garza.

    Pancho, dressed in a mariachi suit, pilots a wagon hauled by flying burritos (the non-delicious, non-musical sort). The simple South Texas Christmas tale is printed in both English and Spanish, allowing for several different bilingual reading opportunities, a logical choice for a book that pointedly asserts: “Not even rain or cloudy skies or walls or wire fences keep them from crossing back and forth to El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, to Roma and Miguel Aleman, to Rio Grande City and to Camargo. … The border is his home!”

    Charro Claus is the perfect gift for the children of your Minute Men relatives.

  4. San Antonio Express-News
    In his 2007 children’s picture book “Lucha Libre: The Man in the Silver Mask,” San Antonio artist and author Xavier Garza unmasked Mexican wrestling in a heartwarming story of a boy and his hero. Garza has now decided to sit on Santa’s lap. Coming in November, “Charro Claus and the Tejas Kid” is a bilingual retelling of the Santa Claus myth with a South Texas twist, brought vividly to life by Garza’s colorful, expressive drawings.

    Vincent is a young boy spending Christmas eve with his Tio Pancho on his border ranch. Tired from milking cows and feeding chickens, Vincent is about to drift off to sleep when — what should he hear? Si, a thump, thump, thump on the roof. It’s Santa Claus, who happens to be Tio Pancho’s cousin. “I need your help, primo,” Santa says.

    Instead of the red suit, Pancho gets to wear his mariachi outfit. Thanks to magical, tiny colored stars, the pants don’t split at the seams. In fact, Pancho is transformed: “a gold jacket with matching sequined trousers, rattlesnake-skin boots with silver spurs, a big sombrero covered in gold sequins and blinking Christmas lights, a great big cape and a golden mask.”

    Santa doesn’t stop there. His magic repairs a decrepit old wagon, and with a single touch, the burros — Rigo, Jaime, Freddie and Little Joe — sprout lucha libre masks and capes and become “the incredible Flying Burritos.”

    And what about Vincent? Well, he stows away in Charro Claus magic bag and helps deliver presents to children along the border as the Tejas Kid — complete with mask, cape, hat and guitar. Quite the dynamic duo.

    According to Garza, whose work is inspired by his deep South Texas roots and the family stories he heard growing up, “Yes, Virginia, Santa Claus really does have a Mexican cousin!”

    The book was published from the indispensable Cinco Puntos Press in El Paso, a small press with a big heart.

  5. Children’s Literature
    Bold, stylized cartoon-like illustrations help this creative author/illustrator tell the story of Santa Claus’ Mexican cousin—telling it in both English and Spanish. On Christmas Eve, Vincent and his uncle, Pancho, hear something on the roof. Vincent creeps out to see who is talking to his uncle and is surprised to see Santa Claus. We watch along with Vincent as Santa Claus greets Tio Pancho warmly and asks for his help. Santa needs someone to get all of the toys delivered along the Texas/Mexico border so he enlists Pancho.

    In a Fairy Godmother-like move Santa transforms Pancho into Charro Claus and turns Pancho’s broken-down wagon into a “… a brand new wagon, as white as the clouds.” Of course, the little burros are transformed into the “Flying Burritos!” With the wagon packed with the magical sack and the flying burritos at the ready, Charro Claus prepares to take off on his toy delivering mission. Vincent decides that he wants to go along and hops into the magical sack just before the wagon flies off into the sky. At the very first house, Charro Claus discovers his nephew hiding in the magical sack just as a young girl comes into the room proclaiming “You are not Santa Claus!” Tio Pancho is greatly relieved when his nephew tells the girl that this is Charro Claus, Santa’s Mexican cousin. Delighted with this idea the little girl goes to sleep. Charro Claus decides that he needs Vincent’s help and transforms him into the Tejas Kid.

    The last double spread shows the Tejas Kid riding the lead burro and calling out “Andale, Rigo! Go, Jaime! C’mon, Freddie! Dale gaaaaaas, Little Joe! Step on it!” The back matter includes a long note from the author discussing the foundations for the story, including his own childhood experiences, and a picture of his own son, Vincent, the model for the Tejas Kid. The author wrote both the English and Spanish versions of the story that appear together on each page. This will be especially useful in bilingual homes or classes.

  6. Tucson Citizen
    In south Texas, where it doesn’t snow and there are no reindeer, the big guy in the red suit has to adapt. The red cap is replaced with a mariachi hat, and sleigh boots with cowboy boots. The transformation is finally triggered by a little magic dust, some tiny stars and a few sprinkles that turn a cowboy and his nephew into Charro Claus and the Tejas Kid. This fascinating story reflects small-town Texas life and the magic of the holiday season.

  7. Horse Fly
    For kindergarten through grade two, this cheerful book about a Border Santa is endorsed by the School Library Journal, which says, “Santa transforms an old mariachi outfit into a gold-and-silver sequined marvel and his burros into lucha-libre-masked Flying Burritos. The text is in English and Spanish. The illustrations are bright and energetic, depicting a brown-bearded Tío Pancho and young Vincent enthusiastically distributing toys.”

    Vincent, visiting his Tío Pancho on Christmas Eve, is surprised to discover that his uncle is Santa Claus’s cousin. Santa has come to Pancho’s farm on the Mexico-Texas border asking for help delivering presents to the children living along that border. Of course Pancho agrees, and with the help of Santa’s magic, becomes “Charro Claus”. Instead of a red suit, he wears a golden mariachi outfit; his old wagon and little burros (renamed the “Flying Burritos”) are his means of transportation. This charming story will be embraced by children who do not see their lives reflected in the traditional snowy Santa tales. Recommended.

  9. The National Book Critics Circle Board of Directors, Critical Mass blog
    Here’s an original take on the famous Clement Clarke Moore holiday classic. How would the night before Christmas “translate” in a South Texas Valley setting, where St. Nick’s Mexican cousin Pancho can lend a hand by distributing gifts to all the children who live along the U.S.-Mexico border? Easy: Charro Claus!

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