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In her buoyant first book, Zamorano, Vivas's daughter, good-naturedly exposes a familiar quandary: the difficulty of assembling all members of a family to share a meal. The young narrator explains how his close-knit Spanish clan each day gathers around a table made by Papá to enjoy empanadas, gazpacho or paella prepared by Mamá‘or at least most of the brood manages to show up. Each day a different relative is too busy‘practicing dancing for the fiesta, telling a story, picking tomatoes‘to come to the table. Then it is Mamá's turn to be absent when she delivers her baby. Whether viewing this sunny, somewhat doughy-looking crew's repasts from above or below the table, Vivas's (I Went Walking; Our Granny) animated watercolors offer homely perspectives on a bustling dinner hour, when "all of us talk at once"‘with their hands, naturally‘and abundant food is consumed with obvious gusto. Spanish phrases peppering the story are clear from their context; a brief glossary is also appended to this festive mother/daughter collaboration. Ages 4-7. (May)
PreS-Gr 2‘This charming debut from the daughter of illustrator Julie Vivas is just right for story time. Little Antonio introduces his extended family and explains that Mamá is the biggest because "she is going to have a baby any day now." Everyday she sends the boy to gather the family for their midday meal. On Monday, Papá can't leave his busy carpentry shop. On Tuesday, his sister Alicia is learning to dance the sevillanas for the summer fiesta. Day after day, when there is an empty seat at the table that Papá built and Mamá has filled with inviting food, she sighs, "Ay, qué pena! What a pity." Eventually, it is Mamá herself who is missing because it's time for her to have baby Rosa. Children will delight in Antonio's grown-up responsibilities and enjoy the comfortable but unique predictability of the text. They will understand exactly how Antonio feels when he sighs, "Ay, qué pena!" because it's Mamá's chair that's empty. While not specified, the setting is obviously Spain and several Spanish words, primarily related to food, are interspersed. The vibrant watercolor illustrations are accentuated by a crisp white background. As in Mem Fox's Possum Magic (Harcourt, 1990) and Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge (Kane/Miller, 1985), Vivas's distinctive style is unmistakable. This is one happy, active family and the pictures exude warmth and vitality.‘Alicia Eames, Brooklyn Public Library