Ana Baca, illustrated by Anthony Accardo, translated by Carolina Villarroel,
Benito's Sopaipillas / Las Sopaipillas de Benito
Piñata Books, 2006.
Anilu Bernardo, illustrated by Christina Rodriguez,
A Day with my Aunts / Un Dia con mis Tias
Piñata Books, 2006.
Two bilingual titles by Piñata Books, Benito's Sopaipillas / Las Sopaipillas de Benito and Un Dia con mis Tias / A Day with my Aunts confirm Arte Público's (of which Piñata is an imprint) commitment to publishing authentic children's books about U.S. Hispanic culture.
Benito's Sopaipillas is the third Benito book and this time, young Cristina is taught by her abuelita (grandmother) how to make traditional sopaipillas, “puffed pillows of fried bread”, learning their significance in the process. According to legend, sopaipillas bring rain in times of drought. The word itself means "soup-catcher," and the sopaipillas are like clouds, catching raindrops and bringing them to the earth. It is a hot day and Cristina is dubious that there will be a rain shower by day's end. Then she hears the story of how her great-grandfather, Benito, was shown by a magical scarecrow how to bring much needed rain to the drought-parched land, by tossing the dough balls his mother had made up into the sky. Anthony Accardo’s expressive illustrations compliment the vivid language and bring Baca's story to life.
In A Day with my Aunts, author Anilu Bernardo also centers her tale on the importance of family and tradition. Isabel, our protagonist, spends every Saturday with her three tias (aunts), who are brought to life in Christina Roriguez' strong, vibrant illustrations. On this particular Saturday, Isabel learns to make meat empanadas, dress up as a princess, and dance "to the happy rhythm". Bernardo's writing is very upbeat and focuses on the upside of a close-knit family, which reminds readers of one of the main tenets of latino values.
Both these stories will appeal to young children's imaginations. They might also pick up a few new words in English or Spanish: especially as the parallel English and Spanish text is extended into the recipes included at the end of each book - and which will no doubt be in demand!
Mary Beth Cecchini