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Chato's Kitchen

by Gary Soto
Illustrated by Susan Guevara

Published by Putnam, 1995
32 pages
ISBN: 0-399-22658-3

Ages 4 - 8

Chato and his best friend Novio Boy are streetwise cool cats from "East Los" who are thrilled when a family of mice move in next door. When Chato invites his new neighbors over for dinner, they innocently accept, not realizing that their host plans to serve them as the main course. Gary Soto skillfully integrates Spanish into the text of this wry cat-and-mouse tale. While surprising plot twists and amusing turns of phrase will delight monolingual English-speaking readers, there will be double the fun for those who understand Spanish as well, as Soto plays with both languages simultaneously. Equally playful is artist Susan Guevara who fills her illustrations with cultural references: a calendar page open to May 5 (Cinco de Mayo); and elegant birds' wedding taking place in mailbox; and tiny letters on a banana label reading sangre de Honduras. Small visual details such as these add an extra layer of meaning for observant readers without detracting from the overall fun of the story. Guevara's style suits the broad humor perfectly, as she is especially gifted at expressing subtleties of character through controlled exaggeration. ?Delicioso! Winner, 1995 CCBC Caldecott Award Discussion CCBC categories: PICTURE BOOKS.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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