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Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto

Too Many Tamales (edition 1996)

by Gary Soto

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8728710,181 (3.87)None
Title:Too Many Tamales
Authors:Gary Soto
Info:Puffin (1996), Paperback, 32 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:multicultural lit, holidays, family, interaction

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Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto



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It’s Christmas day and Maria and her mother are preparing a traditional Mexican American dinner, tamales. Since it is Christmas, Maria’s mother lets her help. She even gets to wear make-up and an apron. She is feeling so grown up, so she tries on her mother’s wedding ring to top it off. She continues mixing the masa with her hands when the rest of the family shows up for the holidays. Her mom finishes the tamales while she goes to play with her cousins. Some time goes by when Maria notices that she’s not wearing the ring anymore. Assuming it’s been cooked into the tamales, her and her cousins eat the entire batch trying to find it. After they are all gone and everyone is sick from eating too much, the youngest cousin admits he may have swallowed the ring. Maria works up the courage to tell her mother only to find her mother has had the ring the whole time. With all the food gone, the entire family goes to the kitchen to make a second batch or tamales.

Personal Experience:
When I was in the first grade, my father was in the military. Most of the men he was stationed with at the time were Mexican American. That Christmas we spent at one of their house. I had a great friend there named Marie. I remember thinking it was so wonderful how they didn’t have ham or turkey for dinner like we usually did at Christmas time. They had tons of tamales and Menudo. When I read this to my son, I told him that story. We also talked about how every family has their own holiday traditions.

Classroom Extension Ideas:
1.) I would read this around Christmas time. The students and I would have a discussion about something their families do around Christmas time. Then I would have them write some of it down and draw a picture to go with it. Then it would be fun to put all of them together in a printed book as a gift to their families.
2.) I could ask the students to tell me about a time that they felt really grown up and helpful like Maria did before she borrowed her mother’s ring.
3.) If Maria hadn’t borrowed her mother’s ring without her permission or at least told her when it was lost, her and her cousins wouldn’t have had to eat all of those tamales. She also would have saved herself some worry. Among other things, this book shows the importance of being honest. I could ask the students if they can tell where Maria went wrong and what were the consequences? Then ask, “What would you have done if you were Maria?” ( )
  CamilleSchmidt | Feb 19, 2015 |
This is a wonderful Christmas picture book, with a slightly different emphasis than many other books on the subject. In this story, Maria is making tamales with her mother, a Christmas tradition very common among Hispanic families in the southwest (where I live). Her mother leaves the room for a moment, and Maria's eyes are drawn to the diamond ring her mother left on the counter. She can't resist, and tries the lovely jewelry on her own hand, admiring its shine; but when her mama returns, Maria forgets she is wearing the ring, and starts kneading the masa. The ring is pulled off by the dough, and Maria happily leaves the room to welcome her arriving family.

Maria enjoys playing with her cousins, but when something reminds her of the ring she dashes back to the kitchen, her three cousins in tow. After looking everywhere, to no success, Maria comes to the inevitable conclusion: the ring must have been cooked in a tamale! She enlists her cousins' help to eat through the tamales in search of the ring. At first, the job is enjoyable, but soon their bellies are full and they still haven't found the ring. After eating all the tamales, with still no ring in sight, the children believe it must be in someone's stomach. But when Maria is ready to confess to her mama, she finds a surprise - the ring is on her mom's finger. The adults laughingly console the children, and then the whole family makes new tamales together.

The story is sweet and funny, with a plucky heroine and a lovely tone of Christmas comfort and tender family memories. The text is well written, and the illustrations are warm and comic. I particularly like this book because it explores the Christmas traditions typical for Mexican American families, in an organic story that presents the customs in a natural setting, instead of noting them as peculiar or strange. I want to teach my children, and my self, an appreciation of diversity and cultures different from our own, and this book is a wonderful way to learn about other cultures while recognizing the similarities that bind us all together. Plus, it's just a fun story! This book deserves a lot more attention than it receives. ( )
  nmhale | Jan 7, 2015 |
I loved this book because it reminded me of how big a role food plays in my own family as well as the fact that is okay to make mistakes, an important thing for students to remember. ( )
  Andymcclellan_93 | Dec 4, 2014 |
This book is about young Maria who tries on her mother's ring and thinks she has lost it. When making the tamales, her and her cousins eat all of the tamales and they still can not find her mother's ring. One of her cousin's thinks he might have swallowed something hard. They are all panicking, and Maria doesn't know how to tell her mother she has misplaced her ring. Maria notices the ring on her mother's finger and shows a sign of relieve. Now that all the tamales are gone, they must make more. ( )
  emilyann93 | Nov 20, 2014 |
This book was a good multicultural book for kids to learn from because I feel as if food always interests young readers. It tells the story of Maria a young Spanish girl who helps her mother cook in the kitchen. I feel like you could also incorporate this is your classroom by asking young kids what their favorite Mexican or Spanish food they like or have cooked before?
  Jclark5 | Nov 3, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gary Sotoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Martinez, EdIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Book description
While preparing dough for her family's Christmas tamales, Maria discovers that she has lost her mother's prized diamond ring somewhere in the dough and sets out to eat her way through the many finished tamales to find the missing ring.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0698114124, Paperback)

Maria is feeling so grown-up, wearing her mother's apron and helping to knead the masa for the Christmas corn tamales. Her mother even let Maria wear some perfume and lipstick for the big family celebration that evening. When her mother takes off her diamond ring so it won't become coated with the messy masa, Maria decides that life would be perfect if she could wear the ring, too. Trouble begins when she sneakily slips the sparkly ring on her thumb and resumes her kneading. Uh oh. It is not until later that night, after all the tamales have been cooked and after all her cousins and relatives have arrived, that Maria suddenly realizes what must have happened to the precious ring. Ed Martinez's warm oil paintings celebrate the riches of South American Christmas colors--adobe reds, dusty gold, lacey whites, and rain-forest greens. Martinez also has a gift for capturing children's animated expressions, especially when Maria begs her cousins to help her find the missing ring by secretly eating the enormous stack of steaming tamales! Gary Soto's delightful Christmas-spirit closure will relieve young readers who empathize with the negligent Maria. Grown-ups, too, will appreciate this playful reminder about the virtues of forgiveness and family togetherness. (Ages 4 and older) --Gail Hudson

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:39:39 -0400)

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Maria tries on her mother's wedding ring while helping make tamales for a Christmas family get-together. Panic ensues when hours later, she realizes the ring is missing.

(summary from another edition)

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