Southwest Children's Literature

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The Piñata Quilt

Book Review:

Author-illustrator, Jane Tenorio-Coscarelli offers a heartwarming look at a Mexican-American family through the eyes of an aunt who has prepared a special gift for her nephew's birthday. Albert will soon be leaving for college, and Tia Lilly has devised a plan to remind him of his connection to his family and the values instilled in him as a child.

As Tia Lilly wraps Albert's eighteenth birthday present, she reminisces about the story behind the gift. She remembers that she was still a young woman when little Albert learned a valuable lesson about selfishness, honesty, and love. Knowing his tia would make a perfect piñata, he devised a plan to keep all the treasures for himself. However, Albert had not counted on the depth of his love for his tia and the pull of his conscience. On the day of the party, his family and friends excitedly gathered around the piñata in sweet anticipation. To their surprise, but not Albert's, the piñata would not break. When he sees his beloved tia shrink in embarrassment, he confesses that it was his fault. Albert admits to adding more glue to the paste when she was not looking. Now, years later, Tia Lilly's aged fingers have recorded the story in the beautiful piñata quilt she wraps for Albert.

Tenorio-Coscarelli's watercolor illustrations, enhanced by pen and ink, provide an authentic expression of the colorful world of the Mexican-American culture. She creatively frames each illustration with items that reflect the text, offering the reader a rich visual experience. For example, when the text refers to terracotta pots, the illustration is framed with them. Tenorio-Coscarelli draws the reader's attention to the illustrations' messages by using vivid contrasts of color.

Finally, Tenorio-Coscarelli adds three distinctive touches to The Piñata Quilt. The first is the Spanish translation of important words on each page. She adds this feature with the purpose of enticing young readers to add some Spanish words to their vocabulary. The second touch is a little mouse that is hidden on each illustration, which invites the reader to a meticulous review of the illustrations. The last touch added by Tenorio-Coscarelli is the pattern and instructions for making a piñata quilt.

This book is better used as a read aloud than as a reader. To learn more about Tenorio-Coscarelli, visit her website at

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