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Tamalitos: Un poema para cocinar / A Cooking Poem (Bilingual Cooking Poems) Hardcover – March 26, 2013
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From School Library Journal
K-Gr 3–Argueta takes readers on a journey from “the Popol Vuh/the sacred book of the Maya,” where it says “that the first men and women were made of corn,” to their own kitchens, where “it's very easy to make/corn tamalitos stuffed with cheese.” Threads exploring the cultural and historical resonance of corn and masa are woven throughout this free-verse offering. The young narrator mixes his dough, drumming and dancing “the Nahua corn dance/and the Maya corn dance/and the Aztec corn dance/and the powwow dance/and the corn dance/of all the people of corn.” Argueta places Spanish and English translations of his lively verse side by side, allowing readers to savor the flow and vitality of both languages. Some younger children might benefit from a little more detail when it comes to cooking tamalitos while nonetheless appreciating the effusive celebration of Latin American culture and cooking. Steps where adult assistance or supervision is required are noted. Domi's vivid, watercolor wash illustrations, full of bold primary and secondary colors, provide an able counterpart to this ode to “these tamalitos made of corn with love.–Ted McCoy, Oakland Public Library, CAα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
“When I say I’m going to make tamalitos / I think about kernels of corn— / white, yellow, blue ones, / purple, red and black ones— / like a rainbow / when it’s drizzling.” Argueta’s latest cooking poem, essentially a recipe, serves up playful prose in both Spanish and English, and is complemented by Domi’s broadly stroked, saturated watercolors. As he did in Guacamole: Un poema para cocinar / A Cooking Poem (2012), Argueta provides rich, sensual descriptions of the process; in this case, as two siblings prepare tamales in the kitchen, we hear what the dough should feel like (“neither too squishy or too squooshy”) and catch a whiff of the yummy smells. In fact, the whole poem invokes singing, dancing, and celebration. The joyous rhythms of Argueta’s text are animated in the artwork, and by the end of the poem, readers will be ready to roll up their sleeves and make some tamalitos of their own. All stages of the recipe that require adult supervision are marked with an asterisk. Grades 2-4. --Angie Zapata
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