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NaturalKids Book Review: Too Many Tamales

Natural Kids: NaturalKids Book Review: Too Many Tamales

Friday, November 5, 2010

NaturalKids Book Review: Too Many Tamales

Too Many Tamales

By Gary Soto

Last month a community art project I was working on had me thinking and pondering about my family, culture, traditions, and customs I have inherited or have been past down from parent to child. It had me thinking of the importance of family and the role we play as parents, uncles, aunts, grandparent, friends, and teachers, and the influence we have on young developing minds. I reminisced about times I spent in my grandmothers kitchen with wonderful smells coming from the adobe oven my grandfather (or Abuelito as I called him) built her out in the garden. How my mother taught me how to tie tamales , and how my brother Eddy has passed on to his own children our family’s “tradition” to sneak behind the birthday person and totally ruin the cake by smashing their whole head in it. It always made sense to us because we always had two cakes and thought everyone else did too. My mom started that because she wanted us to always remember our childhood birthdays and the fun we had smashing cake on each other like the Three Stooges. When we would hand out invites to our friends we would tell them “and don’t wear anything nice”, as we would walk away.

Thinking about those wonderful times I had as a child reminded me of one of my many favorite story books Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto. The story starts out the day before Christmas which for most Latin American families is more exiting than Christmas day. Children are able to stay up until midnight and open presents. But before then the day is mostly spent in the kitchen cooking and preparing for the wonderful night that lies ahead. In the book Maria helps out in the kitchen and feels grown up when her mom puts a little perfume and lipstick on her. When her mother takes off her ring to kneed the masa or cornmeal for the nights tamales Maria tries it on and admires it then helps her mother knead. After the tamales are all done and cooking in the giant pot she realizes that the ring is missing from her finger and looks all around the kitchen and cannot find it! She and her cousin then look at the pot and think the worst. They decide that the ring must be in the masa of one of the hundred’s of tamales cooking. After they are cooked the girls rapidly open them and look inside of them with no luck they look at the mess and to cover their tracks start eating them one by one. The girls stuffed and tired finally confess. Family comfort and hug the girls and Maria’s mother shows her the ring they had been looking for. Maria’s mother had it with her all along!

Gary Soto is a very good story teller and the illustrations give the book a very nice mood. The rich colors and texture make the book warm and inviting.

Stories and books like this give parents a way to introduce a tradition or talk about their own culture and customs. It is also a good way to show children how other families celebrate holidays. In my family it has been a great conversation starter and brings up our own stories and disasters that have happened during holidays and parties. Now that the holidays are approaching soon, this is a good book to get you and your children think about your customs, ancestors, and new and old traditions that make your family special no matter what you celebrate!

Dayanara Garcia/ Pin Pon

Here are a few great items from our members:

Wood Mouse      




Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great etsy items! Sounds like a good book too.

November 6, 2010 at 9:18 PM  

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