Tamalitos: Un poema para cocinar/A Cooking Poem

tr. from Spanish by Elisa Amado. illus. by Domi. 32p. Groundwood/Tigrillo. 2013. Tr $18.95. ISBN 978-1-55498-300-1.
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, CA
Jorge Argueta’s joyful, rhythmic verse emphasizes the pleasures of cooking, treating the experience as a celebration. (“Estoy bailando y tocando mis tambores. / El tun-tun de mis tambores / me hace reír.” “I’m dancing and drumming. / The tum-tum of my drums / makes me laugh.”) Draws attention to the connection that one can feel to one’s ancestors through the use of a time-honored, traditional recipe. Directions to make tamalitos, integrated into the poem, are simple enough for children to follow mostly independently (within the text, asterisks mark steps in the process that require adult supervision). Domi’s bright, child-like illustrations are full of humor.

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