book review

Fiesta Fiasco by Ann Whitford Paul, illustrations by Ethan Long

Cover Image

The bright, sunny illustrations in this book conjure up the desert and make a fitting background for Culebra’s birthday fiesta.  His friends Tortuga, Iguana, and Conejo go to the market to buy gifts for Culebra, a snake.  There, Tortuga and Iguana are tricked by Conejo, a self-proclaimed “expert at choosing gifts”, into buying gifts that clearly work better for a rabbit than a snake–a sombrero instead of a balloon, a camisa instead of a bowl, and pants instead of a libro.  When Conejo is only too willing to take care of the regalos that do not suit snake, the other animals realize they have been tricked and order Conejo to leave the fiesta.   They then play pin the tail on the coyote, cactus, and musical rocks.  Conejo returns after the games and makes amends, having returned the inappropriate gifts and bringing with him the gifts that the others had originally chosen.  Culebra loves his new regalos, and the book ends with the aninals singing happy birthday to their friend as the birthday torta is served.  The bright desert colors stand out on the crisp white pages, and the characters are cartoony without being cutesy.  The Spanish words sprinkled liberally throughout the text make this story of friendship fun to read out aloud.

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