Sarah's Reviews > Chato's Kitchen

Chato's Kitchen by Gary Soto
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Jul 16, 12

bookshelves: literacy-course
Read on June 22, 2012

Genre: Picture book / Multi-cultural
Lexile: 740, 4th grade-5th grade

This book had me laughing because of the East L.A.-talk Soto employed in the dialogue. I immediately felt at home when reading it, and I felt as if my father himself wrote it! My father, being from East L.A., used much of the slang and language used in this book. The general plot is centered around a cat named Chato, his cat friend Novio Boy, a family of mice, and their dog-friend Chorizo. Both Chato and Novio Boy are typical vatos, or gangsters, from the barrio. They're dressed in cholo fashion, which is quite funny because they're cats! The story begins with Chato's stomach growling from hunger and he realizes a new family of mice has moved in not far from him. With food on the brain, he's determined into trick the cautious mouse family into coming over for dinner. He writes them a note inviting them over for dinner on a piece of paper that he crafts into a paper airplane and sends over the fence. The mouse family is skeptical about his kindness, but decides to go anyways, and brings their dog-friend Chorizo. Meanwhile, Novio Boy and Chato are cooking up a storm in the kitchen. It is inferred that they are cooking all the side dishes to this wonderful meal, where the mouse family will be the main course! The whole time you are wondering if Chato and Novio will feast on the mice or if somehow they will have a change of heart. It brings up a lot of ideas about the characters you see in the barrio. To me, Chato and Novio represent misguided thugs who are hungry and willing to do anything to satisfy their hunger, which is part of the theme. I gave 4/5 stars because I was a little underwhelmed by the ending, but perhaps that's just because of my psychological development and how I'm older than the target audience for this book.
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