Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Children's Book Review: 'Señorita Gordita' by Helen Ketteman

Señorita Gordita by Helen Ketteman
illustrated by Will Terry
Albert Whitman & Company , 2012

Señorita Gordita is the third in a series of Southwestern fairy tales, written by Helen Ketteman and illustrated by Will Terry. This book reimagines the tale of the Gingerbread Man with a Gordita as the protagonist. In the glossary at the back of the book it is explained that a “Gordita is a term of endearment meaning ‘little fat one’ in Spanish. It also refers to a thick, fried tortilla...”

The little fat tortilla outruns Araña (spider), Lagarto (lizard), Crótolo (rattlesnake), Escorpión (scorpion), Javelina (which is not translated in the glossary, but appears to be a wild boar), and Coyote, before meeting her match in Búho, the wise old owl. The setting is the desert, and the characters navigate around Saguaros and Arroyos in their adventures.

The illustrations are slightly cartoonish, with an air-brushed quality that accurately conjures the haze of desert heat. There is also a recipe for Gorditas included at the end of the book. One thing missing from the glossary, which would have been helpful to this Anglo reader, is a pronunciation guide for the Spanish terms.

The first graders I read this book to enjoyed the story, commenting on the suspense of the chase and the clever way the owl tricked Señorita Gordita in the end. They also enjoyed the Spanish words and recurrent phrases, e.g. “And with a flip and a skip and a zip-zoom-zip, off she ran.”

Other books in the series include Waynetta and the Cornstalk: A Texas Fairy Tale (2007), which retells the Jack and the Beanstalk story, and The Three Little Gators (2009), a Texas version of the Three Little Pigs.

Helen Ketteman is the author of more than twenty picture books including Bubba the Cowboy Prince. She is the mother of two grown sons. A longtime resident of Texas, she now lives on Sanibel Island, Florida, with her husband.

Will Terry has illustrated several pictures books, most recently The Three Bully Goats. He teaches illustration part-time at Utah Valley State College, creates e-book apps, and lives in Cedar Hills, Utah, with his wife and three sons.

Renée Vaillancourt McGrath has worked at Montana Public Radio as a program host since 2002. Her background is in librarianship and she currently works as a freelance editor, blogger, and website developer. Check out more of her book reviews at reneesreads.com.

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