Wednesday, August 16, 2006


TALES OUR ABUELITAS TOLD: A HISPANIC FOLKTALE COLLECTION by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy, illustrated by Felipe Davalos, Susan Guevara and Leyla Torres (Atheneum)
Habia una vez, or once upon a time, five amazing artists got together to create a marvelous book, to gather stories that their grandmothers might have told. Each shoned and shimmered individually but fit together to create a mosaic representing the artful history of storytelling in Spanish-speaking countries, stories speckled with tradition and influence from the Arab, Jewish,Germanic, African, Spanish and indigenous worlds (to name a few). What flavor each story packs! From the familiar and legendary, such as the Puerto Rican trickster "Juan Bobo" to the beloved and romantic "Blancaflor," to the eloborate quest of "the Little Horse of Seven Colors" or the cumulative poem, "The Castle of Chuchurumbé," there are a dozen stories in all, each benefitting from these experienced storytellers' awareness of making the words roll off the tongue, so that they may be told again and again, and live on and on and on.

To make matters even better, the stories are illustrated in full page plate by not one, not two, but three celebrated Hispanic artists, with distinct styles but all colorful and detailed. The book also includes a fascinating introduction (which might be a little much for young readers but offers fantastic background knowledge for educators), an invaluable guide to beginning and ending a story in Spanish (worth the price of the book right there), and interesting, personal information about all of the contributors to this book, which will create a strong author/illustrator/reader connection. This book is a rare gem, pretty and fun to read alone or aloud, an inspiration for storytellers and a very strong addition to any multicultural or folkloric collection. (8 and up)

Also of interest:
MAMA GOOSE: A LATINO NURSERY TREASURY by Alma Flor Ada, F. Isabel Campoy, illustrated by Maribel Suarez (Hyperion)
Mostly Mexican, this compendium of bilingually-presented birthday songs, riddle, tall-tales, finger plays, jump-rope rhymes, songs and nursery rhymes will add fresh material to both laptimes and storytimes. While the content of the Spanish-language originals are sometimes sacrificed in translation in order to keep the rhythm and rhyme, what results is a treasury of pleasant pieces that stand on their own in each language. Generous, brightly-colored illustrations make page-turning a delight. A wonderful choice for a new baby gift, this book will be enjoyed throughout a child's primary years.(birth and up)

CHICKS AND SALSA by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Paulette Bogan

Fans of Doreen Cronin's CLICK, CLACK, MOO: COWS THAT TYPE will find a new cock of the walk in this story of a farmyard looking for a little culinary variety, and finding it through Mexican cuisine. Now, where the ducks got the guacamole, the chickens got the tortilla chips and the bull snared the the sombrero remains a mystery, but you'll be glad they did! When the cuisine proves irresistable, the farmer and his wife may have to get in on the fiesta. This slightly irreverant book about eating outside the box (or the henhouse or pen, whatever the case may be) has pictures as colorful as a broken pinata, and will whet many young readers' appetites for trying new cuisines. Recipes included, but you may want to have many more international cookbooks on hand! (5 and up)

TINY TORTILLA by Arlene Williams, illustrated by G. Brian Karas (Dutton)
Juan Carlos is so hungry, but the only thing the old tortilla maker in the plaza has left is a tiny scrap of dough, but she assures him, he shouldn't worry. Simply pat the dough and sing, "palma-palma-palmadita," and when the dough on it is light and thin, give it three pats, uno, dos, tres. Don't take a bite until it is done! If Juan Carlos can follow this advice, he will have the most unusual day of his life. This book is a storytime treasure, with plenty of opportunities for audience participation and magical results with each repetition of the old tortilla lady's spell. The sketchy, sunburned illustrations are just right for the Southwestern setting, and just like the tiny tortilla, your affection for this folkloric telling will grow and grow by the story's end. Be sure to have some tortillas on hand for a storytime snack to follow, and see if the spell really works! (5 and up)

Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to support your local bookseller.

1 comment:

AnnieM said...


I am glad you recommended Tiny Tortilla by Arlene Williams. I picked it up like many books, I liked the cover, but I was plesantly suprised. I hope more people read it for fun, as a family, use it in a class, or as a storytime.

What can I say, I love good picture books.

You always have great suggestions, now I just have to find time to read them. ;)



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