Maria was feeling very grown-up on Christmas Eve as she helped her mother prepare the tamales for Christmas dinner. When she slipped her mother's diamond ring onto her finger, she only meant to wear it for a minute. But suddenly, the ring was gone, and there were 24 tamales that just might contain the missing ring.
"A warm family story that combines glowing art with a well-written text to tell of a girl's dilemma." -- School Library Journal
Maria is feeling so grown-up, wearing her mother's apron and helping to knead the masa for the Christmas corn tamales. Her mother even let Maria wear some perfume and lipstick for the big family celebration that evening. When her mother takes off her diamond ring so it won't become coated with the messy masa, Maria decides that life would be perfect if she could wear the ring, too. Trouble begins when she sneakily slips the sparkly ring on her thumb and resumes her kneading. Uh oh. It is not until later that night, after all the tamales have been cooked and after all her cousins and relatives have arrived, that Maria suddenly realizes what must have happened to the precious ring.
Ed Martinez's warm oil paintings celebrate the riches of South American Christmas colors--adobe reds, dusty gold, lacey whites, and rain-forest greens. Martinez also has a gift for capturing children's animated expressions, especially when Maria begs her cousins to help her find the missing ring by secretly eating the enormous stack of steaming tamales! Gary Soto's delightful Christmas-spirit closure will relieve young readers who empathize with the negligent Maria. Grown-ups, too, will appreciate this playful reminder about the virtues of forgiveness and family togetherness. --Gail Hudson
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