Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Too Many Tamales

Mmmm....tamales. I lived in the Houston area for two years before I moved to Warrenton, and there are three things I miss about Texas: Texas style brisket and barbeque(if you're ever in the Houston area, check out Mo's BBQ), going to the Houston rodeo every spring, and roadside stands where Mexican ladies roll out homemade tortillas and tamales. Tamales are a traditional Christmas food in many Latino families, and that's how Maria, the star of Too Many Tamales, gets into trouble.

And everything was going so well for her! She had a lovely red velvet Christmas dress, her cousins, aunts, and uncles were coming over, and she was grown-up enough to help her mother make the tamales for their big Christmas Eve dinner. Christmas Eve, rather than Christmas Day, is a big deal in traditional Hispanic culture, and the family was gathering for a delicious meal. Maria's mother left her sparkly diamond ring on the counter, and when she went to answer the phone, she thought it wouldn't be a big deal if she tried on the ring. Just for a second to see how it looked and felt. She wasn't going to take it. She just wanted to try it on.

Maria's mother came back, and they continued to make the tamales. Her dad cooked the tamales, and everything was smelling so nice and homey. And the rest of the family came over, and everyone was so happy!

Maria and her cousins were happily playing until she REMEMBERED! The ring! What happened to the ring? Oh, no! It was probably cooked in one of the tamales. What could she do?

What Maria and her cousins did and the aftermath of their actions is very cute and funny. But the depiction of this warm and loving Hispanic family is the real charm of the story, and Ed Martinez's illustrations enhance the closeness of this family. My favorite is the one of Maria and her cousins looking at the tower of tamales, wondering just how on earth they could get the ring out (it's the same one on the cover, pictured in this post). This is a darling story without being too cutesy for its own good.

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