Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred

The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred
by Samantha R. Vamos
illustrated by Rafael López
Charlesbridge, 2011
review copy provided by the publisher

This book is The Happy Nappy Bookseller's pick for the Pura Belpré Award.*

I agree.

First of all, the illustrations are gorgeous. They pop with the happy bright colors you can see on the cover.

And the story is fun, fun, fun. It's a cumulative tale with a nod to "The House That Jack Built." In this case, though, arroz con leche is cooked. The story is told primarily in English, but the Spanish is included in a way that makes the reader pay attention and use context and story pattern clues. (There's a glossary in back if you really get stuck.)

The book starts, "This is the pot that the farm maiden stirred." On the next page, "This is the butter that went into the CAZUELA that the farm maiden stirred." So, you see, cazuela is pot.  On the next page, "This is the goat that churned the cream to make the MANTEQUILLA that went into the CAZUELA that the farm maiden stirred." So, mantequilla is butter, and you can see how the story accumulates not only ingredients and animals but Spanish words.

Maybe I won't have read the Newbery this year, but I'm pretty sure I've read the Pura Belpré!

Fuse #8 also liked this book a lot.
An interview with the author here.

*This award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. The Pura Belpré Award is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. It is co-sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, an ALA affiliate.


  1. A review that tells just enough to get me interested, Mary Lee. Since all of our students have Spanish I think it's a good pick for our library. It's a clever way to put in some words, isn't it?

  2. Thanks so much for your shout out for this title. It reminds me of The Pot That Juan Built, and I'll keep my fingers crossed when announcements are made next week. Cumulative stories are wonderful for generating appreciation for the lyrical nature of text, and also the universality of story telling.

  3. The book looks wonderful...and now I'm curious about this librarian and want to know more about her. Thanks, Mary Lee!


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