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Too Many Tamales

4.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,259 Ratings  ·  304 Reviews
Christmas Eve started out so perfectly for Maria. Snow had fallen and the streets glittered. Maria's favorite cousins were coming over and she got to help make the tamales for Christmas dinner. It was almost too good to be true when her mother left the kitchen for a moment and Maria got to try on her beautiful diamond ring . . .

This is the story of a treasure thought to be
Paperback, 32 pages
Published August 8th 1996 by Puffin Books (first published January 1st 1993)
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Lisa Vegan
This is a wonderful family story, a special story about a young girl’s mistake and the funny and sweet and mature way everyone deals with it, and my kind of holiday story: one where the holiday itself is peripheral and therefore doesn’t make me melancholy. Also, it’s interesting to read about a different (for me) kind of Christmas tradition. It also doesn’t hurt that I love tamales and it was interesting to see this family make them – two batches as it turns out. So, it’s both amusing and heartf ...more
I chose to read this with my students (Kindergarteners) wanting primarily to expand their conception of what Christmas can look like within the traditions of different families. Soto & Martinez' story mirrored the experiences of my students (who are primarily white, middle/upper class) closely enough that they could recognize themselves in the images (Christmas tree, family and friends gathering together, preparing food for visitors, Christmas clothes, etc.) while also being asked them to in ...more
Crystal Marcos
May 01, 2010 Crystal Marcos rated it really liked it
When I first received the book the first thing I noticed was the expression on the childrens faces. One that I thought would be a priceless family photo if I owned it. I read the book to both my baby girl and my husband. The first thing I noticed looking at the illustrations was how dark they were. As I read on, those illustrations turned from being dark to warm to me. It reminded me of what it is like on a cold winters night with Christmas lights and maybe a warm fire lit near by. You don't hav ...more
May 04, 2010 Kathryn rated it really liked it
I really liked this one! I just love the warmth and humor in the illustrations and the story is so perfect in how it captures the inner turmoil of the girl and, gosh, it was so funny discovering why the title is "Too Many Tamales" ;-p I also just really appreciated the feeling of family and togetherness that the story brought, especially in the final scenes with everyone in the kitchen. It was also nice to see that the adults weren't too harsh on the girl, knowing she had already realized the er ...more
Dec 05, 2015 Autumn rated it it was amazing

So Maria and her mother are making tamales for Christmas dinner and while she is helping her mother mix the masa together her mother leaves her ring on the counter. Maria really loves this ring so when she tries it on and loses it and doesn't realize it oh no. What can Maria do. While visiting with her cousins she remembers the ring and it is up to her and her cousins to find this ring. What will happen with the tamales as it has to be in there right?
(NS) Laura Jackson
Too Many Tamales was written by Gary Soto and illustrated by Ed Martinez. This book was published by The Putnam and Grosset Group in 1993. This book is about a young girl, Maria, and her cousins. Maria is fascinated by her mother’s wedding ring, and always wants to try it on. Maria’s mother leaves her wedding ring sitting on the kitchen table, so Maria decides to try it on. Shortly after she puts the ring on, she and her cousins begin making tamales for a holiday party. They have to knead the ma ...more
Adam Zaobiedny
Title: Too Many Tamales
Author: Gary Soto
Illustrator: Ed Martinez
Publisher: The Putnam & Grosset Group
Year Originally Published: 1993 Approximate Interest Level / Reading Level: 2nd - 3rd grade

Gary Soto has written a touching story of a young girl named Maria who loses her mother’s wedding ring as she makes tamales for a holiday celebration during the Christmas season. Maria wears her mother's ring when her mother takes it off to start kneading the masa (dough) for the tamales. While she b
Apr 19, 2011 Ronyell rated it it was amazing
This is one of those rare occasions where I read a book detailing the family traditions of a Mexican American family! “Too Many Tamales” is a children's book by Gary Soto along with illustrations by Ed Martinez and it is about a young girl named maria who was helping her mother make tamales for the Christmas dinner. Later on, Maria tried on her mother's precious ring while she was still making the tamales and when she met up with her cousins Dolores, Teresa and Danny, she realized that she left ...more
Jun 03, 2013 Kaycee rated it liked it
Too Many Tamales is the story of Maria Whois happy to be grown up and helping her mother and father make tamales for their Christmas dinner celebration. But she also is hoping to look even more grown up and wear her mother's diamond ring. Later when her cousins come over she realizes that the ring is gone and is afraid it fell into the tamale dough. Maria tries to solve the problem and find the ring, with the help of her cousins, but realizes that she will have to admit to her mother what happen ...more
May 02, 2016 Shannon rated it really liked it
Shelves: diverse-lit
I really enjoyed reading this book. It was relatable. Not everyone makes tamales, but lots of people get together with families and the younger ones "get into trouble" (try on and lose the ring) and try to find a way to get out of it before the adults find out. I found my self smiling and laughing reading this book. I would recommend this book to be enjoyed by young readers. This book would be a lot of fun in the classroom!
Jan 09, 2011 Dolly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is a funny story that demonstrates how some cousins come to the rescue when a little girl makes a big mistake. Unfortunately, they could all have avoided an upset stomach if little Maria had just confessed her mistake to her mother right away, but in the end all is well. The illustrations are fairly dark, but very expressive and we all enjoyed reading this book together at bedtime. Good Christmas story.

This story was selected as one of the books for the May 2010 - Latino reads at the Pictur
Meshi Zilberstein
Jun 06, 2016 Meshi Zilberstein marked it as to-read
This book has not received any awards.

This book is appropriate for grades 1-4.

It is Christmas Eve and Maria is helping her mother make her favorite part of the meal-Tamales. Feeling grown up with her mothers lipstick and perfume, Maria cannot help herself when she sees her mothers diamond ring gleaming on the counter and decides to try it on for just a second before her mother comes back in. It isn 19t until the tamales are ready and she is upstairs playing with her cousins that Maria rea
Ana Ramirez
Apr 20, 2016 Ana Ramirez rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-book
You read the title of this book and you think this book is going to be able to tell the story of tamales but it does not. The book is able to show how tamales have become a tradition for special holidays like Christmas. The book tends to be a bit stereotypical by having the women in the kitchen making the tamales. The dad does help in the process of making the tamales but only for a little bit. The little girl likes the ring very much that she wears it and then thinks she lost it, but this is st ...more
Marco Becerra
"Too Many Tamales" is a picture book for younger grades that tells the story of a young girl who loses her mother's ring and is on a quest to find it.

One thing that this book does really well is its depiction of Mexican culture and the use of accurate language (though in the case of language, it can be a little too stereotypical at times; for better use of language, see books like Esperanza Rising). The relationship between daughter and mother in this book is very true to its traditional Mexican
Aquiles Voy
In this book language, culture setting and relations are depicted in this way: It's Christmas eve and this child Maria and her mother are making tamales which is a traditional Christmas - winter culinary specialty in Mexico in preparation for the Christmas eve dinner to share with uncles and cousins. There's a focus on celebrations, holidays and family gatherings. Characters have agency and are fairly depicted in their ethnicity and multiculturality illustration wise, but the text mostly focus o ...more
Mckenzie Telford
The story, "Too Many Tamales," by Gary Soto is a great realistic fiction children's story. It is about a girl who puts on her mothers ring because she thinks it is so beautiful, and then forgets that she put it on. She then helps her mother make tamales. This book discusses culture and how amazing the families tamales are. By the time they are hungry enough to eat a tamale, she realizes the ring is gone. She can't find it and then realizes that it must be inside of a tamale. The four children de ...more
Danielle Bartelmay
This is the story of a young girl, Maria, who tries on her mom’s ring while her mom isn’t looking. She returns to making tamales with her mom and forgets about the ring. Later when her family arrives she is with her cousins when she remembers the ring. She fears that she lost the ring in the tamales so she enlists her cousins’ help to eat the tamales o find the ring. They make themselves sick and do not find the ring, so Maria decides to tell her mom when she notices that her mother has the ring ...more
Megan Cureton
I loved this story about Maria and a tradition about making tamales with family members. When Maria was kneading the dough with her mother, she noticed that her mother had taken off her ring so the dough wouldn't get on it. When her mother turned around, she slipped it on, and before she knew it, it had slipped off her finger into the dough. She knew how upset her mother would be if she found out that she had been playing with it, she would be in trouble. My favorite part of the story was when M ...more
Jaimie Hong
Mar 09, 2015 Jaimie Hong rated it really liked it
Story about a Hispanic family during a holiday get together. Maria wants to try her mother's wedding ring. While making tamales with her parents, Maria sees her mother take her wedding ring off and put it aside. When her mother isn't paying attention, Maria quietly slips on her mother's ring. After finishing all the tamales, Maria notices that her mother's ring is no longer on her finger. She starts to panic and when her cousins come over to her house, she gathers them in the kitchen and tells t ...more
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Melba Deoleo
This book introduces us to a little girl called Maria who is helping her mother make tamales for Christmas, she felt all grown up. When her mother left to answer the phone Maria simply couldn't resist and she put on her mothers diamond wedding ring, she just loved that ring. They both continued to make the masa and soon her father came in to help make the tamales, 24 in total. When her cousins arrived Maria realized that her mothers ring was gone and she knew they were inside one of the tamales. ...more
Dec 05, 2014 Megan rated it really liked it
Shelves: multicultural
This is a wonderful story about a family and particularly a young girl’s mistake and how different members handle it. Maria decides to try on her mother's wedding ring while the family is making Christmas tamales. She admires the beauty and all goes well until she realizes that it is no longer on her finger. It is in the tamales! Her family has made so many! how will she ever find her mother's ring? I loved how the children and adults responded so differently. Maria makes her mistake, apologizes ...more
Apr 07, 2014 Gina rated it really liked it
Shelves: prediction
Too Many Tamales tells a story about a girl named Maria who tries on her mother wedding ring while helping her mother in the kitchen when cooking tamales on Christmas eve. Meaning to wear the ring for minute, Maria panics as she loses the ring; and the ring may be IN THE TAMALES. Maria and some of her cousins decided to eat through all of the tamales until they found the ring, which did not happen. Surprisingly, Maria's family was willing to make some more tamales and forgave Maria and her cousi ...more
Apr 20, 2016 Heidi rated it it was ok
Shelves: picture-books

I think that the book is too stereotypical. For the most part there are a lot of women in the kitchen. I do not like this because it conveys a message to girls that they always have to be in the kitchen. At the end of the story there are only women making the tamales while the men are standing in the back. The book also contains stereotypical names and food items.
The book does convey accurate relationships between Hispanics because they are very family based. In the story aunts and uncles come
Hana Sm.
Feb 02, 2014 Hana Sm. rated it really liked it
This is an interesting book that someone read to me. It has a lot of cultural references (names, food) but any non-Hispanic child can relate to & understand the story. Maria has always admired her mom's sparkly wedding ring...But one day her cousins, aunt Rosa & uncle were coming over. So Maria helps her family make 24 tamales but she puts on her mom's ring without her mom's permission. As you may have guessed, the ring (view spoiler) ...more
Victoria Hawkins
Sep 18, 2014 Victoria Hawkins rated it really liked it
In the book, Too Many Tamales, by Gary Soto shows how honesty is extremely important. A little girl sees her mother's wedding ring on the table, while her mother was making tamales. She reaches for it to try it on, then she forgets that she has it on and goes on for her day. The family made tamales with each other. The little girl realizes that she thinks she lost her moms ring, so her and her cousins go and eat all the tamales. Then the little girl goes to tell her mom that she lost her ring, h ...more
Rebecca Ashley Teague
Apr 07, 2014 Rebecca Ashley Teague rated it it was amazing
Shelves: math-concepts
Too Many Tamales is the story of a little girl named Maria. Maria believes she has lost her mother’s ring in the food while helping her make the tamales. Maria decides her and her cousins have to eat the tamales to find the ring. Maria and her cousins finish the tamales, but the ring is still missing. Maria decides to tell the truth only to discover the ring is on her mother’s finger. Maria tells her mother what happened in the end. I would use this story in my classroom to teach students how to ...more
Andrea Salcedo
Jan 16, 2013 Andrea Salcedo rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. I remember reading this book as a child but it was nice to revisit this book after so long because I can honestly say I didn't remember the outcome. Also, I read this book this time around in spanish so it was interesting reading the choice in words he used. What I like the most about this book, was that I definitely had its relatable points such as, making tamales for christmas. This was a good book overall.
Alexandria Stephens
Too Many Tamales is about a young girl who looses her mothers ring while cooking a batch of tamales. Instead of confessing to her mother about her mistake, her and her cousins decide to eat all of the tamales with hopes that they will find the ring. After eating dozens of tamales and not biting into the precious ring, she realizes that her mother had the ring all along. In literacy, this book can be used to teach students the art of making predictions while reading. The teacher can think aloud w ...more
Too Many Tamales is a story about a little girl who does something wrong and tells her mom the truth instead of trying to solve the problem herself. In the story, Maria helps her mom make tamales for a Christmas party. When her mom leaves, Maria tries on her ring. Later, when Maria's cousins arrive, Maria realizes the ring is missing so she asks her cousins to help her eat the tamales. After eating all 24 tamales and still no ring, Maria decides to talk to her mom. As Maria approaches her mom, s ...more
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Gary Soto, born April 12, 1952, was raised in Fresno, California. He is the author of eleven poetry collections for adults, most notably New and Selected Poems, a 1995 finalist for both the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the National Book Award. His poems have appeared in many literary magazines, including Ploughshares, Michigan Quarterly, Poetry International, and Poetry, which

has honored him w
More about Gary Soto...

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