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The Three Little Tamales

The Three Little Tamales

5.0 3
by Eric A. Kimmel, Valeria Docampo (Illustrator)

While the three little tamales cool off on a windowsill, a tortilla rolls by. "You’ll be eaten. You’d better run!" he tells them. And so the tamales jump out the window. The first runs to the prairie and builds a house of sagebrush. The second runs to a cornfield and builds a house of cornstalks. The third runs to the desrt and builds a house of cactus.


While the three little tamales cool off on a windowsill, a tortilla rolls by. "You’ll be eaten. You’d better run!" he tells them. And so the tamales jump out the window. The first runs to the prairie and builds a house of sagebrush. The second runs to a cornfield and builds a house of cornstalks. The third runs to the desrt and builds a house of cactus. Then who should come along but Señor Lobo, the Big Bad Wolf, who plans to blow their houses down!

Editorial Reviews


Tía Lupe and Tío José and their taquería in Texas are back, and this time Tía Lupe is making her famous tamales in this "Three Little Pigs "takeoff. The three tamales are encouraged to run for their lives by a runaway tortilla rolling by. Since the little tamales do not want to be eaten, they flee and seek safer places to live. The first tamale runs to a prairie where she builds a casita out of sagebrush. The second tamale builds his casita out of cornstalks. The third tamale finds herself in the desert where she builds a casita out of a cactus with prickly thorns. All is well with the tamales until Señor Lobo, the Big Bad Wolf, comes calling at their doorsteps, threatening to blow their casitas from "here to Laredo.” Docampo's oil-on-paper illustrations add dimension to the story and bring the three little tamales to life. An excellent addition to collections of fairy-tale retellings.

Library Media Connection
Here's another Three Little Pigs variation; it's quite silly, but it works. Complete with a glossary of Mexican terms, this story is fun and well-written. The tamales, cooling on a window sill, are advised by a tortilla that they better run or they'll be eaten. Off they go—one to build a sagebrush home, one to a house made of cornstalks, and the third most practical little tamale chooses tough, thorny cactus. All is well until Señor Lobo, aka the Big Bad Wolf, comes by. With the usual huffing and puffing, but with a Southwestern twist, the story progresses as expected until the wolf ends up in a cooking pot. He does manage to escape but never returns, and the tamales celebrate with a fiesta. Illustrations done in oils on paper are humorous and imaginative, especially Señor Lobo's expressions, and the little tamales with their poppy eyes, sombreros, and cornhusk bodies. The southwestern color scheme features lots of red, yellow, and orange tones against the blues and greens of the desert. Children usually enjoy the many variations of well-known tales, and the opportunity for lessons in compare/contrast makes the book useful as well as enjoyable. Recommended.
School Library Journal

K-Gr 3

Kimmel has pulled the pork from "The Three Little Pigs," wrapped it in masa, and cooked up another traditional tale flavored with Southwestern spice. Three little tamales cooling on the windowsill of Tía Lupe and Tío José's taquería receive a heads-up from a runaway tortilla ("If I stay here, someone's going to eat me. You'll be eaten, too. You'd better run!"). The tamales leap down and take off as fast as their cornhusk legs will carry them. The first one (a real doll with long eyelashes and a bow headband) runs to the prairie and builds a casita of sagebrush, the second (sporting a curled mustache) stops in a field and builds a casita of cornstalks, and the third (wearing round red spectacles)-such a smarty-runs all the way to the desert and builds a casita of cactus. Along comes Señor Lobo, and youngsters will be able to guess the rest. This Big Bad Wolf threatens the tamales with a comedic flair ("I'll huff and I'll puff/like a Texas tornado/and blow your casita/from here to Laredo!" ), his breath swirling in a burst of color and energy. Done in a palette of gold, green, and blue, the action-packed spreads blend the exaggerated gestures and expressions of cartoons with the rich color and texture of oil on paper. The colorful artwork combines with a text brimming with humor and sound effects ("Ay! Ay! Ay!") for a delightful parody sure to satisfy readers' appetite for fun.-Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library

Kirkus Reviews
The traditional "Three Little Pigs" gets a southwestern flavor in Kimmel's latest updated tale, a takeoff on his previous The Runaway Tortilla (2000), illustrated by Randy Cecil. Taking their cue from the aforementioned tortilla, three tamales from T'a Rosa's restaurant also decide to make a break for it. Each builds a different type of casita: the first of sagebrush, the second of cornhusks, the third of cactus. When Se-or Lobo makes his appearance, youngsters will have no doubt as to who he is: "I'll huff and I'll puff / like a Texas tornado / and blow your casita / from here to Laredo!" A glossary helps readers unfamiliar with Spanish, although most words are defined in context. Docampo's oils are filled with southwestern colors and details. Her tamales each have a stereotyped personality all its own: the mustachioed macho brother, the pretty but not-too-bright sister and the smart sister who wears glasses. A flavorful addition to the folktale shelf that begs to be shared with a group. (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

Amazon Childrens Publishing
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.80(w) x 12.00(h) x 0.50(d)
AD710L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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The Three Little Tamales 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Literary_Classics_Reviews More than 1 year ago
The Three Little Tamales, by Eric Kimmel, is the adorable adaptation of the commonly known children's book, "The Three Little Pigs". Kimmel's inventive retelling of this story includes three tamales who do not wish to be eaten. When the tamales run away, they each build a different structure in which to live. But when Senior Lobo (the big bad wolf) decides to make a meal out of them, he learns he is no match for the wits of these clever little tamales. Kimmel's literary talents are perfectly paired with wonderfully expressive and utterly delightful illustrations provided by Valerie Docampo. This is a splendid book which also incorporates morsels of the Spanish language throughout the book helping kids to learn a bit of Spanish as they enjoy the antics of the three little tamales. The Three Little Tamales comes highly recommended and has earned the Literary Classics Seal of Approval.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read-aloud book for all elementary ages. A new twist on old nursery rhymes. One of our favorite bed-time stories!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My two children love, love, love, this book! They want to read it at least two times before they go to bed. Even though my oldest is learning to read she has memorized the entire book and reads it to the younger one every night, then they want me to read it to them!