The Runaway Tortilla

Overview

In Texas, Tia Lupe and Tio Jose make the best tortillas - so light that the cowboys say they just might jump right out of the griddle. One day, a tortilla does exactly that. Mocking her pursuers, the tortilla runs through the desert, encountering two horned toads, three donkeys, four jackrabbits, five rattlesnakes, and six buckaroos. She dodges them all, but is finally outwitted by Senor Coyote in this flavorful twist on the classic tale "The Gingerbread Man."
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Overview

In Texas, Tia Lupe and Tio Jose make the best tortillas - so light that the cowboys say they just might jump right out of the griddle. One day, a tortilla does exactly that. Mocking her pursuers, the tortilla runs through the desert, encountering two horned toads, three donkeys, four jackrabbits, five rattlesnakes, and six buckaroos. She dodges them all, but is finally outwitted by Senor Coyote in this flavorful twist on the classic tale "The Gingerbread Man."
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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
A variant of the Gingerbread Man and Ruth Sawyer's Journey Cake, Ho! Illustrated by Robert McCloskey (Puffin, 1978) set in Texas, Tia Lupe and Tio Jose own a taqueria called El Papagayo Feliz, famous for tortillas that are "light as a cloud and soft as the fuzz on a baby's cheek." One day after the cowboy diners remark that Tia Lupe's tortilla's are so light, they might run away, that is just what happens. She, a female tortilla, rolls out the door, insulting the owners, calling them greedy and fat, and taunting them with a repeating refrain. Then the tortilla rolls by and taunts two horned toads scampering, three donkeys trotting, four jackrabbits leaping, five rattlesnakes slithering, and six buckaroos galloping. They all give up after a long chase. A clever coyote, feigning a throat problem, lures the cocky tortilla to her doom. Randy Cecil illustrates this cumulative tale in oils of southwest hues. His folk art style features the big sky, the glowing sunsets, and the sandy soil and fauna and flora of the desert setting. His stylized drawings include amusing perspectives, notably a final view looking back out onto the desert through coyote teeth from inside his wide-open mouth. Despite the insults, which relieve the reader from having to feel any sympathy for the tortilla, this book lends itself quite naturally to reading aloud. Students familiar with the variants will appreciate the clever twist that Kimmel has put on the tale, which, in his descriptions of the action, also recall the pattern in The Twelve Days of Christmas. The tale reinforces beginning counting skills. It is useful for expanding action vocabulary, teaching similies, and for introducing young readers to vocabularyassociated with the southwest. Teachers could use it as a model for motivating students to try their hand at writing a similar tale in a setting familiar to them. 2000, Winslow Press, $16.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Marilyn N. Robertson — The Five Owls, January/February 2001 (Vol. 15 No. 3)
Children's Literature
Kimmel's Hispanic version of The Gingerbread Man is a disappointment after his successful earlier version of the folktale. In south Texas near the Rio Grande, a customer in Tia Lupe and Tio José's restaurant suggests that their tortillas are so light that one might just "up and run away." Thus begins the tale. The tortilla rolls past Tia Lupe, Tio José, three donkeys, two horned toads, four jackrabbits, five rattlesnakes, and six bold buckaroos. At last everyone stops and returns to what they were doing. The tortilla rolls until it meets Señor Coyote at the edge of a river and becomes his dinner. The rhythmic refrain isn't as lyrical as the original, and the reference to an abandoned, wrecked car and old tire is not appropriate. Kimmel uses several Spanish words in the text, yet provides no glossary or pronunciation guide. Cecil's flat, oil paint, two-dimensional illustrations attempt to portray the arid landscape of south Texas, yet they are not engaging. Children could be disturbed by the angry expression on the face of the tortilla. What could have been a good variant of other versions of The Gingerbread Man, is not. 2000, Winslow Press, $16.95. Ages 5 to 8. Reviewer: J. B. Petty
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-A story about a woman and a man and a piece of bread that comes to life and runs away. T'a Lupe and T'o Jos own a taquer'a in Texas down on the Rio Grande. The secret to their success is their tortillas-so light that if they were any lighter, "Some day they-[might] up and run away!" To their surprise, this is just what happens. The foolish tortilla is so cocky she could almost strut, but since she's round, she can only roll. She rolls away from the couple, two horned toads, three donkeys, four jackrabbits, five rattlesnakes, and six buckaroos, singing all the while, "Run as fast as fast can be. You won't get a bite of me." She is finally tricked and eaten by Se-or Coyote, who takes advantage of her fatuous egotism. The primitive oil paintings feature a palette of sunset colors, a rotund T'a and T'o, and a lipsticked, scowling tortilla. The apt endpapers sport sacks of flour, rolling pins, salt shakers, oil, and skillets. Kimmel's saucy story joins a swarm of similar, albeit popular, retellings of traditional tales with a Southwestern setting.-Ruth Semrau, Upshur County Public Library, Gilmer, TX Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The author of a conventional Gingerbread Man (1993) dishes up another version, this with a Southwestern flavor and a female entree. Tía Lupe makes such light tortillas at El Papagayo Feliz, her south Texan taquería, that one finally jumps up, declares, "I'm too beautiful to eat," and rolls out the door. Weaving her way past horned toads, rattlesnakes, cowboys, and other pursuers, the tortilla sings out a catchy, taunting refrain, printed in long, wavy lines across each spread: "Run as fast as can be. You won't get a bite of me. Doesn't matter what you do. I'll be far ahead of you!" Like a small, gleeful moon, the tortilla rolls across Cecil's dusty, mustardyellow chaparral, chased by a growing crowd of hungrylooking admirers, meeting her inevitable end when sly Coyote begs her prettily to remove the "grasshopper" that has lodged in his throat. Deeper and deeper into his throat she travels until all that shows are his teeth wrapped around the edge of the pages and the tortilla staring down his gullet. And "SNAP!" How sad. How delicious! (Picture book/folk tale. 68)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781890817183
  • Publisher: Winslow Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2000
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 11.99 (w) x 9.01 (h) x 0.44 (d)

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