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father and daughter reading

People watching Puppet show

The Puppeteer - El Titiritero

A puppet show is being presented in an empty lot outside a tenement building. A little girl, Dulce, acts as the puppeteer's assistant, looking at a storybook when she's not needed. After the show ends, she passes a hat for donations.

Later that evening, the puppeteer, her father, tells Dulce a bedtime story. The next morning, he gathers wood in an empty lot, coughing chronically, while Dulce sleeps in their old battered station wagon. When she wakes, they look at the storybook together, but the father is worried that his daughter still hasn't learned to read. He decides that it's time for her to go to school.

A man with an official New York City vehicle arrives and tells them they should go to a shelter instead of living on city property. The puppeteer explains that he got sick in the shelter and he would never take his daughter there.

As he sets up for his next puppet show, a woman brings Luis (the puppeteer) a pamphlet. Unable to read it himself, he takes it to a restaurant and asks a friend for help. It is information about getting checked for tuberculosis. As Luis scratches a Lotto ticket, his friend tells him that she heard on the radio that in the U.S. all children have the right to go to school. She reassures Luis that they won't ask for his papers, and she offers to go with him.


character in the Puppeteerfather and daughter in school officeadministrator


The next day a nervous, fidgety Dulce and her father stand outside the classroom looking in. When they go to the office to register, the administrator says she needs to see a birth certificate and a rent receipt or telephone bill to prove they live in the city. Luis tells her he doesn't have a rent receipt, but that every child has the right to go to school. The administrator tells him she can't register Dulce without a receipt because it's the law. Luis angrily tells her he'll go to another school.

Back at the car, Luis tells his daughter a story about a sad, tired mother who cries a river of tears until a miracle happens: a small tree grows laden with fruit, right before her eyes. The scene closes on the family driving the car away from the empty lot, in search of their own miracle.




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