"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Magda's Tortillas

Magda’s Tortillas (Las Tortillas de Magda)
Author: Becky Chavarría Chálrez
Illustrator: Anne Vega
Publisher: Piñata Books – Arte Publico Press

Magda’s Tortillas is the story of Magda Madrigal who is celebrating her seventh birthday. She has waited for this day with great anticipation because this is the day that her abuela will teach her to make tortillas for the first time. Magda is excited and can’t wait to get started.

The book describes in wonderful detail a day spent in the kitchen with a beloved grandmother learning el gran tradicíon of making tortillas and the quest to make them perfectly round. You could almost smell those tortillas on the comal!

Magda is adorable. I fell in love with the stunningly vibrant and lifelike illustrations of Anne Vega whose artwork is truly marvelous. Each page pulls you into Magda’s emotions and actions so that you are right there in that kitchen. One of my favorites is the one with Magda’s face covered in flour. I burst into surprised laughter when I turned the page to see that precious face decorated with white splotches. The minute I saw it I was reminded of my own kitchen education at the hands of my Grandma Lupe as well as the excited, flour-covered faces of my own children and grandchildren. This story brought back so many great memories of family, kitchens and the art of the tortilla.

This is a feel-good book, one that I encourage you all to read. I think it’s an important one as well, since it’s about one of our most ancient traditions – the making of the all-important tortilla. Our ancient ancestors in Tenochitlan were making tortillas and teaching generations of little girls that special art. With life so fast-paced today and tortillas of every kind pre-packaged in stores, this could become a lost art. Let’s not let that happen.

I loved this book and it’s one of my granddaughter Jasmine’s favorites. Whenever we read it, we just have to make our own tortillas. We have to – the book just makes us not want to do anything else. This story is one of simple beauty and joy, the love of family and tradition leaps off the pages and moves you in a profound and incredible way. Magda’s abuela and family will move you with their love, understanding and overwhelming pride in the daughter of the house.

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