What Can You Do with a Paleta?/¿Qué puedes hacer con una paleta?
By Carmen Tafolla • Illustrated by Magaly Morales
Tricycle Press • 2009 • 32 pages
Hardcover ($14.99)
ISBN: 978-1582462219
Ages 3-7

Bold bursts of color make this story of summer-time, popsicles and learning explode off the page. This lesson-filled book begins and ends with a lyrical refrain explaining that “paletas” —fruit-flavored frozen pops—are ethnically specific and usually sold in Latino barrios from street vendor pushcarts. Visually saturated with neighborhood and family scenes, most pages of this enchanting book feature single sentences that encourage children to tackle reading on their own.

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A real “treat,” this tale prods children to learn concepts as they appreciate the simpler things in life. As its title suggests, the book contains many paleta-inspired lessons—for example, paletas come in a variety of flavors, which enables children to learn colors and the names of different types of fruit. There is an early chemistry lesson: natural fruit juice can dye your tongue, make a moustache on your lip, and even act as paint on canvas to create a work of art. Decision-making skills put to work: buying a paleta requires making a difficult choice among many possibilities.  A math lesson: a purchase means counting and exchanging money. And socialization: sharing a paleta can help you make a friend. Who knew that the jingling bells of the paleta vendor could announce the arrival of a traveling classroom? A yummy, fun story with important fringe benefits!

—Reviewed by Gisela Norat, Agnes Scott College, Atlanta, Georgia.