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About the Author
Samantha R. Vamos is the author of Alphabet Boats, Alphabet Trains, Alphabet Trucks (illustrated by Ryan O'Rourke), The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred (illustrated by Rafael López) - 2012 Pura Belpré Illustration Honor - its companion book, The Piñata That The Farm Maiden Hung (illustrated by Sebastià Serra), and Before You Were Here, Mi Amor (2009, illustrated by Santiago Cohen). Samantha previously worked as an attorney, practicing in Washington, D.C. and Chicago, IL. Samantha was born in the Midwest, grew up on the east coast, and lived in the Pacific Northwest before moving to the Bay Area with her husband, son, and their rescue puppy, Bowie. Visit Samantha online at www.samanthavamos.com.
--Foreword Reviews, STARRED review ♦ It takes the hard work and the imagination of many to throw a perfect surprise party. The farm maiden (campesina), a young boy, a farmer, and their group of animal friends prepare for a birthday celebration by gathering all the supplies to make a piñata for their special guest. Each character helps in its creation: The horse (caballo) hauls the water, the goose (ganso) mixes the paste, and the cat (gato) tears the paper that will become the colorful party centerpiece. The boy (niño) hangs the paper flags, while the farmer (campesino) carves traditional Mexican folk-art sculptures (alebrijes). After a long day of decorating the plaza, everyone falls asleep, forgetting to stuff the piñata with treats. But they awaken to fill it just in time as the birthday girl comes home to be surprised by all of her friends. This bilingual book written in cumulative verse poetry introduces new characters as the story unfolds, and the Spanish word for each animal replaces the English word from the previous page. The result is a colorful, festive surprise (sorpresa). Readers will enjoy singing "The Piñata Song" and will be inspired to make their own piñatas using the included recipe and instructions. A glossary of Spanish words and cultural terminology is also included. Reminiscent of a traditional folk rhyme, this book accompanies The Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred, also by Lopez. VERDICT An essential addition to any picture book collection.
--School Library Journal, STARRED review In a familiar poetic format, award-winning Vamos amusingly illustrates how piñatas are made, while deliberately introducing some Spanish vocabulary and Mexican culture. The story starts as a short rhythmic verse that gradually translates terms. For instance, one page reads, "This is the boy/who shaped the clay/to make the piñata . . ." while the subsequent verses change boy to niño and clay to barro. Once the hard work of making the piñata is done, the family and farm animals can get down to the main event: a surprise party! Serra's lush, warm illustrations in a saturated palette depict the enthusiastic people and animals who help make the piñata, which also will help readers pick up on the definitions of the Spanish words. The lively text and colorful art are engaging on their own, and the additional lessons in language and culture make this particularly useful for a classroom or group storytime. Instructions for making a piñata, as well as a glossary and pronunciation guide, round out this cheery, welcoming offering. -Booklist
Like Vamos's The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred, this companion borrows the cumulative style and cadence of "The House That Jack Built" to introduce a Mexican tradition and Spanish vocabulary. Readers are swept into the anticipatory fervor as humans and animals eagerly pitch in to make a piñata. The latter have the most amusing roles: a goose contentedly mixes flour and water to make a paste, which holds together paper that is feverishly shredded by a cat perched on a rooftop and then bound by rope that a sheep placidly braids. The plot's accelerating momentum comes to a jarring halt when the characters nap before the piñata is decorated and filled, but the pace picks up again when they awaken to finish the job. The lilting narrative and vivid, mixed-media art by Serra (Inky's Great Escape) together facilitate the translation as words introduced in English appear in Spanish on the following page, with buoyant, folksy pictures providing the context. Though readers may be puzzled by the community shouting "Sorpresa!" at the very person who helped to organize the party, the energetic verse and whimsical art create an entertaining offering. -Publishers Weekly