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Too Many Tamales Paperback – August 8, 1996


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin (August 8, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0698114124
  • ISBN-13: 978-0698114128
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 8 x 0.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,757 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Maria is feeling so grown-up, wearing her mother's apron and helping to knead the masa for the Christmas corn tamales. Her mother even let Maria wear some perfume and lipstick for the big family celebration that evening. When her mother takes off her diamond ring so it won't become coated with the messy masa, Maria decides that life would be perfect if she could wear the ring, too. Trouble begins when she sneakily slips the sparkly ring on her thumb and resumes her kneading. Uh oh. It is not until later that night, after all the tamales have been cooked and after all her cousins and relatives have arrived, that Maria suddenly realizes what must have happened to the precious ring. Ed Martinez's warm oil paintings celebrate the riches of South American Christmas colors--adobe reds, dusty gold, lacey whites, and rain-forest greens. Martinez also has a gift for capturing children's animated expressions, especially when Maria begs her cousins to help her find the missing ring by secretly eating the enormous stack of steaming tamales! Gary Soto's delightful Christmas-spirit closure will relieve young readers who empathize with the negligent Maria. Grown-ups, too, will appreciate this playful reminder about the virtues of forgiveness and family togetherness. (Ages 4 and older) --Gail Hudson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Snow is falling, preparations for a family feast are underway and the air is thick with excitement. Maria is making tamales, kneading the masa and feeling grown-up. All she wants is a chance to wear her mother's diamond ring, which sparkles temptingly on the kitchen counter. When her mother steps away, Maria seizes her opportunity and dons the ring, then carries on with her work. Only later, when the tamales are cooled and a circle of cousins gathered, does Maria remember the diamond. She and the cousins search every tamale--with their teeth. Of course the ring turns out to be safely on Mom's finger. Soto, noted for such fiction as Baseball in April , confers some pleasing touches--a tear on Maria's finger resembles a diamond; he allows the celebrants a Hispanic identity without making it the main focus of the text--but overall the plot is too sentimental (and owes a major debt to an I Love Lucy episode). Martinez's sensuous oil paintings in deep earth tones conjure up a sense of family unity and the warmth of holidays. The children's expressions are deftly rendered--especially when they are faced with a second batch of tamales. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Born in Fresno, California to Mexican American parents, Gary Soto learned the hard work ethic through his share of chores, including mowing lawns, picking grapes, painting house numbers on street curbs, and washing cars. His hard work paid off at California State University at Fresno, from which he graduated with an English degree, and later at the University of California at Irvine, where he earned a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.Gary Soto is an acclaimed poet, essayist, and fiction writer. The awards for this multi-talented author are many, ranging from the U.S. Award for International Poetry Forum in 1977 for his first published book of poetry, The Elements of San Joaquin, to a Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award in 1985 for Living Up the Street, his first published work of prose recollections. His short story collection Baseball in April, was named an American Library Association's Best Book for Young Adults. In 1993 Gary Soto received the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Children's Video for Pool Party, and in 1995 he was nominated for a National Book Award.His other credits include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the California Arts Council. Gary Soto is also one of the youngest poets to appear in the Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry. Several of his books have been translated into French, Spanish and Italian.Too Many Tamales was named a Booklist Books for Youth Editors' Choices of 1993. Hazel Rochman of Booklist said, "Gary Soto is an accomplished poet and adult writer, and his children's stories are widely popular. His first entry into the picture book genre is a joyful success."When he is not writing, Mr. Soto serves as a volunteer English teacher at his church. He also enjoys eating at new restaurants, which he does often with his wife, Carolyn, and their daughter Mariko. Other members of the Soto household include their two cats, Corky and Sharkie. The Soto family resides in Berkeley, California.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 28 customer reviews
My class of second and third graders really enjoyed this book.
Holly Petschauer
The warm interiors suffusing this beautifully illustrated Christmas time story convey the entire emotional tone of the book.
M. Allen Greenbaum
You will have to read the story to see if it is found in a cousins belly or someplace else.
Kristi Bernard

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By J. Stout on February 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
I got this book because of its truly exceptional illustrations. The colors are rich and evocative. But I was surprised to see the profound effect that this book had on my four-year-old daughter. She empathized so deeply with the shame and the desperation of the main character that for an entire week after reading this story she was coming to me to make confessions of all the times she was tempted to do things that were wrong. It was a combination of the story and the intense emotions that are depicted in the paintings that came together to shake her to the core. For that reason, think this is a great book for all children, not just Latinos and not just for Christmastime.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By M. Allen Greenbaum HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on December 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
The warm interiors suffusing this beautifully illustrated Christmas time story convey the entire emotional tone of the book. Although we're waiting for an accident to happen-we can just tell that young Maria is somehow going to lose her mother's ring while helping her make tamales-we also are pretty certain thins are going to work out alright. While this may take away a bit of suspense, this is a comforting book that promises a happy conclusion (delivered her by a surprise).

The text is simple and flows well; Soto is an experienced writer. He incorporates traditional activities like food, the visiting of extended family, and gift exchanges. I was a bit puzzled that no religious elements were included, not even as an incidental (e.g., the family is returning form church, a religious decorative element). However, I was not familiar with illustrator Ed Martinez, and it is his warm, emotional pictures that make this a "holiday book." He has a varied painting style, one drawing of Maria in light with a high contrast background recalls Renaissance paintings; other pictures use a Rockwellian focus on emotional faces and tableau-like scenarios. Production values are good, although Putnam might have published a larger book with thick, glossy paper, and a heavier cover.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Norma Herrera on July 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a beautiful picture book that just melts your heart. This is one of Gary Soto's classics. This is an asset for any classroom to have. The illustrations are so beautiful that you could almost reach out and hug Maria when she is looking at the ring on her finger. Her smile is adorable.The illustrations show the glittery feeling of the holiday season. This book could be used in teaching many lessons on honesty, traditions, Christmas, family and the humor within the storyline. Every child should have a chance to hear this story being read to them and have the opportunity to read the story on there own.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
I am an elementary education major and I used this book to examine the book contents for educational value and also to see if children would like it. I loved it and bought it! I also work at a daycare when I am not in school and I used it for "class time" and had them (3 -5 year old children) draw anything about the book and they drew tamales, diamond rings, and the girl looking out the window of her house. They totally caught on to the story. I would recommend this book to everyone no matter the age of the children.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Austin Reader on January 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
This one is surprising because it really did nothing for me. My mother gave it to my son, along with a lot of other Christmas books. However, he has gravitated to this one. The description says that it is for 4 to 6 year olds, but my son is only 2 1/2. We've read it about ten times, but he has it memorized. We can randomly ask him to state the next word and he always gets it. Every night he asks for the tamale book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Holly Petschauer on January 12, 2007
Format: Paperback
My class of second and third graders really enjoyed this book. Many of them make tamales at home every year. They enjoyed reading about someone else that shares the same traditions. It opened up a lot of discussion about telling the truth. The only problem was all the talk about tamales made them hungry!
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13 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Sandra on March 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Too Many Tamales is an excellent book that portrays the traditions and celebrations in a Latino family. Tamales are the traditional Christmas food in Latino families. This book is about a mother and daughter making Tamales during the christmas season. Somehow the daughter losses her mother's ring while making the Tamales. Could it be in the Tamales? A wonderfully vivid story with great illustrations.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My students have really enjoyed it. The expressions on the characters faces are on target. Excellent for supplementing any multicultural Unit.
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