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Growing Up With Tamales

Last updated Friday, June 27, 2008

Author: Gwendolyn Zepeda and Gabriela Ventura
Illustrator: April Ward
Date of Publication: 2008
ISBN: 1558854932
Grade Level: 2nd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jul. 2008

Synopsis: "My name is Ana. Every year, my family makes tamales for Christmas. This year, I am six, so I get to mix the dough, which is made of cornmeal. My sister Lidia is eight, so she gets to spread the dough on the corn husk leaves. I wish I was eight, so that my hands would be big enough to spread the dough just right--not too thick and not too thin." And so the years pass, and Ana turns eight, ten, twelve, fourteen, sixteen. But every year, big sister Lidia is always two years older. Ana envies her elder sibling and wishes she could do what Lidia does: put just the right amount of meat inside the tamales and roll them up; steam the tamales without scalding herself with the hot, hot steam; chop and cook the meat for the tamales without cutting or burning her hands. When she turns eighteen, though, Ana knows she will keep making tamales and she will be able to do all of the steps herself in her very own factory. When Christmas comes around, Ana will deliver tamales to all of her customers around the world, in delivery trucks that say "Ana's Tamales." And maybe Ana will even let Lidia work for her.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Do you like tamales?
•  Do you make tamales at home?
•  Do you get to help in the kitchen with tamales or dinner?
•  Do you like helping in the kitchen/cooking?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Do you get to do more things than your younger brothers and sisters?
•  Do your older brothers and sisters get to do more than you?
•  Are you ever jealous of what your older brothers and sisters get to do that you can’t?
•  What are you afraid of now? Will you still be afraid of that next year? In 2 years?
•  What age do you want to be? Why?
•  What do you want to be when you grow up?

Craft ideas:
•  Make tamales out of construction paper. Make a long strip for the husk. Crinkle several small pieces of paper for the filling. Make a rectangle for the cornmeal. Put it together and roll.
•  Fold a piece of paper in 4. Open and in the first box, draw yourself now; in the next box, draw yourself in 5 years (middle school); in 10 (graduating high school) years; in 15 years (grown up).

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!