Sunday, May 3, 2009

What Can You Do With a Paleta? by Carmen Tafolla, illustrated by Magaly Morales

What Can You Do With a Paleta? by Carmen Tafolla, illustrated by Magaly Morales

Growing up in a very small town, I never heard the familiar tinkle of an ice cream truck pulling into my neighborhood until I was an adult and lived in a bigger city. Now, I can see the joy that sound brings to neighborhood children as they eagerly run up to the truck to take a look at its offerings.

Latin American cultures have their own version of an ice cream truck - the paleta wagon, serving its sweet frozen fruit treats. It seems like the hardest decision is to choose which flavor you want - maybe strawberry, coconut, or mango this time - but Carmen Tafolla's vividly detailed book suggests that once you pick a flavor, you have to decide what to do with it. Do you make a sticky art masterpiece or paint a blue mustache or purple tongue? While those are definitely fun options, the author lets us know that the best thing to do with a paleta is gobble it down.

Tafolla's sensory language and Morales' richly detailed and warm illustrations took me directly to a Mexican barrio on a hot day. I could smell the crisp tacos, hear the music, and even taste a sticky coconut paleta as it dripped down my chin.

This is a book that celebrates a vibrant culture and brings to life the excitement of the paleta wagon rolling through the neighborhood. This is a great book to use in a classroom as well as at home to introduce kids to a culture which they may not know much about. Mexican-American families will treasure this beautiful representation of their culture, and there's even a dual-language version, What Can You Do With a Paleta? / ¿QuĂ© puedes hacer con una paleta?, that bilingual families and kids learning English or Spanish can savor.

More Info:
  • Reading level: Ages 4-8
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Tricycle Press (April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582462216
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582462219
  • Source: Review copy from publisher


  1. My girls love the ice cream truck so I'm sure they will love hearing about the paleta wagon too. I going to have to look for this one.

  2. I *love* this cover, as well as Carmen Tafolla! Thanks for sharing, it took me back to my childhood in Mexico


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  5. a simple book recommendable for almost any child! this girl actually did an awesome work, rhere's no doubt about it!