Here is a story of family traditions at their best, without the traditional family. Mónica, Jose and Gilbert live with their grandparents above their bakery. Mónica tells what it is like to work in her grandparents' store and dreams of becoming a baker herself. The story centers around preparing the Mexican feast of the Three Rings celebrated January 6. Special bread—Kings Rings, is the main food, and a small doll is hidden inside the loaf. Whoever finds the nino must give a party for their friends in February. Mónica is eager to help—and have a party by herself. Encouraging one another is a theme throughout this book, and, as expected, Mónica finds the doll, so she must now prepare for a party. Abuelo and Abuela continue to tell Mónica that bakers share their work, just like families, in an effort to prevent her from becoming overwhelmed with preparation. Overwhelmed and tired is exactly how Mónica feels as she prepares special lemon cookies for the party. Being the wise grandparents they are, Abuela and Abuelo insist Mónica be the boss and they will do whatever she says. With text in both English and Spanish, readers can practice their bi-lingual skills in reading another language. Probably more evident than what language is being spoken is a message for everyone, that families help each other, and families are our most important relationships. Colorful illustrations contribute to the festive, but familial atmosphere of the story. While Pablo Torrecilla's drawings may not be as polished as other contemporary illustrators, he creates a dimension of genuine concern within family and a sense of pride taken in their bakery. 2001,Pinata Books/Arte Publico Press, $14.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Elizabeth Young AGES: 4 5 6 7 8
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-M-nica loves to help out in her grandparents' bakery. She sells the bread, talks with the workers and the customers, and listens to her Abuela reminisce about how she and Abuelo started the shop. Just helping isn't enough for this motivated little girl, though. When she finds the Ni-o doll that is baked in the Three Kings' Ring, M-nica gets the honor of throwing a party for her friends and makes her grandmother's special lemon cookies for the occasion. Mora has once again succeeded in writing a warm family story that includes information about Mexican traditions and celebrations while appealing to the common elements that link people across cultures. The texts in both languages are smooth and colloquial, though a bit long for a read-aloud. Torrecilla's pen-and-ink and watercolor cartoons are big and bright, but are not up to the quality of the text. The faces all have a stylized, slightly squashed look, and an undeniable similarity that mitigates the individuality found in the text. Nonetheless, this is a satisfying read that could be successfully paired with Mary J. Andrade's The Vigil of the Little Angels (La Oferta, 2001) and Tomie dePaola's The Night of Las Posadas (Putnam, 1999) for a look at Mexican and Mexican-American celebrations. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.