Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
New Mexican storyteller Hayes (The Day It Snowed Tortillas) builds an involving moral tale around an old Hispanic joke about tortillas. A poor, kindly husband and wife invite their rich neighbor over to dinner; the neighbor, realizing his hosts have only three spoons, boasts that he has "so many spoons in [his] house [he] could use a different one each day of the year." The wife, unfazed, replies that she has a friend "who uses a different spoon for every bite he eats." This galls the rich man, who then squanders his fortune buying spoons for his every bite. In his poverty, he discovers the couple's trickery: their friend's "spoon for every bite" is a tortilla. Rendered in warm, earthy pastels, Leer's (The Girl Who Listened to Sinks) illustrations are a potent blend of rusticity and droll melodrama. The exaggerated facial expressions flatter the hyperbolic story line while also helping to clarify for children the moral choices found in this deftly told tale. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
Once there was a couple so poor that they only had two spoons. This is their story and that of their rich neighbor, who became their comrade. The rich neighbor could not hide his arrogant amusement when he found out, as their dinner guest, that they had to purchase a third spoon just for him. How he got his comeuppance is cleverly told, in a tale that holds entertainment, instruction, and an elegant twist of meaning. An informative note is included for readers and storytellers.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-This Southwestern tale is based on a play on words that most children raised (even peripherally) in the Hispanic tradition understand: a rolled tortilla can be used as both bread and eating utensil. This slight story's humor depends on a character who makes a fool of himself because he doesn't have this knowledge. A poor couple who own only two spoons invite a rich neighbor to be their newborn's godfather. They save their pennies to buy a third spoon, then invite their compadre over for dinner. When he hears what they have done, he laughs at them, bragging about the number of spoons he owns. The husband and wife can't resist telling him about someone they know who never uses the same spoon twice. Eaten with jealousy, the man begins throwing his spoons away after each use (in the poor family's yard). He goes through his entire fortune before giving up in despair. His neighbors take him to a nearby pueblo where an Indian demonstrates how to have "a spoon for every bite" (a tortilla). An author's note explains the background of the story. Leer's realistic paintings, rendered in pastels, display a southern Arizona desertscape. The faces of the three main characters are especially vivid in their display of emotion.Ruth Semrau, formerly at Lovejoy School, Allen, TX HOWE, James.
The landscapes and lore of the desert are captured in this traditional Hispanic fable about a boastful rich man who is outsmarted by his poor neighbors. The poor couple, whose shack looks out on the mansion of the wealthy man and who own but two spoons, ask him to be the compadre, or godfather, to their child. He agrees; they save every penny to buy a third spoon so they can invite him to dinner. The compadre comes to their home and laughs at their poverty, boasting that he could use a different spoon every day of the year. They mention a man they know who uses a different spoon for every bite. Intent on proving his superior wealth, the compadre bankrupts himself trying to outdo this legendary man, whose "spoons" are the tortillas with which he eats his beans. Hayes includes an author's note about his sources, while Leer successfully combines the colors of the southwest with the caricatured figures who piquantly inhabit the tale. An entertaining marriage of pictures and words.