TOO MANY TAMALES

The whole family is coming for Christmas, so Maria and her parents are busy making tamales—Maria helps Mom knead the masa, and her father puts them in the pot to boil. While they're working, Maria secretly tries on Mom's diamond ring, then forgets about it until she's playing with her cousins. Since it's not on her thumb she's sure it's in a tamale, so the four cousins consume all 24 (with some difficulty) in hopes of finding it. No luck—the ring's on Mom's finger, after all. In this family, there's no scolding: Aunt Rosa says, ``It looks like we all have to cook up another batch,'' and so they do, three generations laughing and working together. Soto's simple text is charmingly direct; he skips explanations, letting characters reveal themselves by what they do. Martinez's realistic, nicely composed paintings are glowing with light and life, while he reinforces the story with particularly expressive faces and gestures. This one should become a staple on the holiday menu. (Picture book. 4- 8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 1993

ISBN: 0-399-22146-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1993

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JAMIE O'ROURKE AND THE BIG POTATO

AN IRISH FOLKTALE

Lazy Jamie O'Rourke doesn't lift a finger, even after his wife hurts her hack digging the "praties" they depend on; but he does catch a leprechaun, who gives him a seed that grows into a potato so large that it takes the combined efforts of the village to dig it and, subsequently, to eat it—"until no one wanted to see or hear of potato again." DePaola's "Note About the Story" tells more of his own family history than of "the short tale that inspired" this one, which is totally unsourced; presumably, it predates the tragedy of the Potato Famine. Anyway, as retold here, it makes a cheery picture book, with the artist using the lighter, brighter side of his palette and including some affectionate caricatures of the Irish in his decorative illustrations. Attractive and amusing. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 1992

ISBN: 0-399-22257-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1991

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MAX FOUND TWO STICKS

Sitting on his stoop near the end of a tidy block of row houses, Max seizes on a couple of sticks that blow from a tree and begins tapping: on his own thighs; on the bottom of Grandpa's window-washing bucket; on a hatbox his mother brings home, bottles, a garbage can. Unobtrusively, Pinkney slips in new information about Max's family in each spread, as the boy experiments creatively with what's at hand, imitates rhythms he hears (``the sound of pigeons, startled into flight,'' church bells, the wheels of the train where his father's a conductor). In a satisfying conclusion, the drummer in a passing band tosses Max his extra drumsticks. Pinkney's scratchboard illustrations, designed with a sure hand and overlaid with rich, subtle shades of sky blue, leaf green, and brick applied in free, painterly strokes, are superb; they vividly convey the imagination and vitality of this budding young musician. A perfect marriage of idea and art. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-671-78776-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1994

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