________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 27 . . . . April 13, 2012


Guacamole: Un poema para cocinar = Guacamole: A Cooking Poem.

Jorge Argueta. Illustrated by Margarita Sada. Translated by Elisa Amado.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood/House of Anansi Press, 2012.
32 pp., hardcover & e-book, $18.95 (hc.), $18.95 (e-book).
ISBN 978-1-55498-133-5 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-55498-209-7 (e-book).

Cooking-Juvenile poetry.
Children's poetry.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 4-6.

Review by Sabrina Wong.

*** /4



— Hoy les voy a hacer guacamole,
le digo a mi mamá, a mi papá
y a mis hermanitos...

‘Today, I’m going to make you guacamole,’
I say to my mother and father
and my little brother and sister.”

Guacamole is author Jorge Argueta’s third contribution to a bilingual cooking poem series, preceded by Sopa de Frijoles/Bean Soup and Arroz con Leche/Rice Pudding. In this book, a young chef goes through all the steps to prepare guacamole. Conveniently, she and her family live in a gigantic avocado house with a monstrous cilantro ‘tree’ in the backyard. This delightful book has parallel text in English and Spanish, although it is clear that it was originally written in Spanish. Children’s book writer Elisa Amado does a good translation, but in translation from Spanish to English, the poem loses some of its rhythm and musicality. Nevertheless, this cooking poem would be great for language learning as a read-aloud for parents with older preschool and kindergarten-aged children.

     The use of visual and physical similes makes it easy for young children to relate to the poem and the process of making guacamole: “The spoon is like a tractor / that you will use to scrape / the avocado flesh” (p.13). Margarita Sada complements this description with an animated scene of the young chef using a tractor to load a big spoonful of avocado into a brightly flowered bowl. The chef’s little brother and sister are happily hauling a giant avocado skin away. The illustrations, for the most part, show the children performing the activity described in the text on the facing page. The only illustration without children is the section of the poem (p.9) that serves as a break between the preparations, such as putting on an apron, to the actual cutting and combining of ingredients.internal art

     Margarita Sada’s illustrations are warm and homey. Her illustrations are initially rendered in oil before being modified digitally, a procedure which allows both the soft glow of the paint and the sharp delineation of smaller items to come through. Her exuberant use of warm colours makes the book a visual pleasure. From the young chef twirling with her apron to the children using avocado halves as a slide, each picture expresses a sense of happiness and fun.

     Cooking is presented as a joy rather than a chore. This book could inspire a sense of empowerment in a young child because it shows children, rather than adults, preparing food, although Argueta makes it clear that adults should help with tasks such as cutting the avocados in half. Since the poem goes through the procedure of making guacamole, it would be great as a simple cooking activity. In Argueta’s careful description, every step is detailed, down to washing the ingredients. The book also presents an opportunity for young children to learn about how plants grow: the young chef warns the reader not to throw out the avocado pits since “[t]hey are the seeds from which / avocado trees are born” (p.11). The avocado skins and pits, as well as the lime seeds, are all kept and later planted in the earth so that more avocados and lime trees will grow.

     This vibrant and lively poem is perfect for encouraging children to engage with cooking and food preparation, advising them to “[s]ing and dance / because food tastes better / when you sing and dance” (p.25). The cheerful and bouncy tone of the poem is carried through to its concluding lines:

Guacamole, qué rico guacamole
verde tan verde
y tan puro como el amor…

Yummy guacamole,
so greeny green,
as pure as love.”


Sabrina Wong is a Master of Library and Information Studies candidate at the University of British Columbia. She is very fond of guacamole.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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