Review of "A Piñata in a Pine Tree"

Mora, Pat. Magaly Morales Illustrator. A Piñata in a Pine Tree: A Latino Twelve Days of Christmas. Clarion Books, 2009. ISBN: 978-0-618-84198-1

Stemming from the Christmas carol, “The 12 Days of Christmas”, Pat Mora creates a Latino version of the son that not only includes Spanish words, pronunciations and vocabulary, but includes the musical score for the song to be played as the children sing. The little girl in the story is being given gifts such as “dos pastelitos” (two small pies or turnovers) and “siete burritos bailando” (seven dancing donkeys” from her “amiga.” When the “doce angelitos celebrando” (12 angels rejoicing) appear by the end of the book, we learn that the “amiga” is the new baby sister that the little girl has been anxiously awaiting for.

Vardell writes, “books and their illustrations should also build an appreciation of beauty and aesthetics” (57). This is the case with A Piñata in a Pine Tree; the colorful pictures show the Mexican style and decoration while also letting the reader appreciate how pretty each page has been designed. Vardell comments that, “it is also important to consider how words and pictures are used to depict culture in children’s picture book” (60). This book definitely shows young readers the culture of Mexico with the language, colorful artwork and original take on the classic Christmas carol.

Booklist (November 01, 2009) reviewed the book with the following positive comments, “In trading a partridge for a piñata and intertwining English and Spanish, Mora has created not only a fun adaptation of a classic Christmas carol but also an introduction to many elements of holiday celebrations for families across the U.S. and Latin America… these acrylic paintings share a similar colorful and vibrant style as they integrate words, numbers, Spanish pronunciations, joy, and excitement throughout each full-page spread. A glossary, useful author’s and illustrator’s notes, and musical notation are also included. The syllabic rhythm doesn’t always perfectly match the familiar tune, but that won’t make reading or singing this any less merry.”

I would like to see a Storytime themed with different Christmas customs so young readers could get a glimpse into how children in other parts of the world celebrate the holidays. There would be a vast amount of books to choose from various countries, religions and cultural backgrounds. Opening the world to young readers through a familiar event like Christmas would be a great way to get children interested in multicultural literature.

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