Newcomer Lambelet establishes an unexpected solution to a sweet, non-threatening problem: Maria has an insatiable appetite for churros. She “couldn’t see a churro without needing a taste,/ she couldn’t taste a churro without having to finish it,/ and she could never finish one churro without wanting MORE CHURROS!” A local bullfighting contest offers a lifetime supply of the treat as its prize, and she gazes at the poster, and at others nearby, as she formulates a plan. Diminutive Maria’s no traditional bullfighter, and the other matadors laugh when she arrives smartly dressed for the occasion, but the way she calms the bull and wins the prize (a parade of men carry steaming platters of churros to her in the ring) is an object lesson in both thinking outside the box and in relying on determination over brute strength. Lambelet’s characters are drawn as doll-like figures with angular faces etched with hatched, wood grain–like lines, and her spreads feature deep reds and browns. Repeated, rhythmic phrasing and emphasis augmented by creative typography give the story about a girl who feels free to change the rules some readaloud punch. Ages 4–8. Agent: Stephanie Fretwell-Hill, Red Fox Literary. (Feb.)
"In a lovely double-page spread, the animal and Maria, fan in hand, show off their graceful moves… Memories of another famous bull, Ferdinand, come to mind as beauty bests fighting." - Kirkus Reviews
"A tenacious and inspirational young protagonist...Readers will root for Maria and feel inspired to think of creative ways to tackle everyday obstacles in their lives. An awesome read-aloud choice." - School Library Journal
"…An object lesson in both thinking outside the box and in relying on determination over brute strength...Repeated, rhythmic phrasing and emphasis augmented by creative typography give the story about a girl who feels free to change the rules some readaloud punch." - Publishers Weekly
"A beautiful story about courage and kindness that would be perfect alongside Munro Leaf's classic The Story of Ferdinand." - Booklist
"…The delicacy with which bull and matador stretch, arc, and vogue through their performance will set picture-book viewers swaying in their seats. Pass around the capes, and ¡Baila!" - BCCB
PreS-Gr 1–Young Maria loves many things, but her favorite things in all the world are churros. She just cannot get enough! One day, Maria sees an advertisement for an amazing opportunity, a lifetime supply of churros to the matador who can stay in the ring with a bull the longest. Maria is not a matador. She is not able to outrun or intimidate a bull, nor big enough to overpower it. However, Maria is determined to find a way and looks to the arts for direction. In the end, Maria uses her skill and talent to outwit even the most experienced matadors in Spain. A tenacious and inspirational young protagonist, Maria demonstrates strength of character and courage in the face of adversity. Although she knows that she cannot realistically fight a bull, she remains focused on her goal with her eyes fixed firmly on the prize. The illustrations in this action picture book are unique, full of geometric shapes and angular features. The pencil strokes are visible and give the art the look of wood grain. Readers will root for Maria and feel inspired to think of creative ways to tackle everyday obstacles in their lives. VERDICT An awesome read-aloud choice.—Amy Shepherd, St. Anne's Episcopal School, Middleton, DE
A food obsession takes a girl into a bullfighting arena.
Pigtailed Maria, a Spaniard, has one true love: churros. One is good, many are great. Happily for her, she reads a poster that guarantees a "LIFETIME SUPPLY OF CHURROS TO THE MATADOR LONGEST IN THE ARENA." Unhappily for her, Maria is not built to fight bulls. The other matadors are scornful of her, but once in the fight they are all bested. It is now Maria's turn to face that "most ferocious-looking bull." She walks up to him and does not fight or wave her cape; rather, she invites him to dance. The bull has never heard this request, having only ever faced aggressive opponents. In a lovely double-page spread, the animal and Maria, fan in hand, show off their graceful moves. They are next seen happily enjoying churros at Maria's table. Memories of another famous bull, Ferdinand, come to mind as beauty bests fighting. While Lambelet's tale is purposefully pacifist, caregivers dealing with a child who will eat only one food may not appreciate the conclusion; others will wish for a note about churros, a fried dessert. The stylized pencil-and-digital illustrations depict angular humans and animals, and the color palette is primarily browns and purples. The typeface uses bold, capitalized words for emphasis.
It turns out that dance can be good for the stomach. (Picture book. 4-7)