Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Gary Soto & illustrated by Ed Martinez

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1993
ISBN: 0-399-22146-8
Publisher: Putnam

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)