The Piñata that the Farm Maiden Hung

Written by: Samantha R. Vamos

Illustrated by: Sebastià Serra

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English & Spanish

Topics Covered: Latinx Identity, Rhyming, Hispanic Culture & Traditions,

Summary: This book reads like a rhyming poem, set up in a style that adds to the pages before to create mouthfuls of rhymes and jumbles.  It’s very similar to the song Ratlin Bog, if anyone is familiar with that!

The book goes through the steps in making a traditional piñata and teaches many different animal names in Spanish at the same time! The entire farm gets involved in braiding rope, making the paste, and decorating the piñata for the party. A goose stirs the paste, the cat shreds the paper, and the horse hauls the water! There are many other steps that require mammalian assistance, and the farm inhabitants are happy to oblige.   This is a pretty quick read, great to introduce vocabulary to young readers.

Serra’s illustrations are bright and cheerful, the way he gives the animal helpers personality will draw in a reader of any age.

Reflection Questions:

  • Have you ever seen or smashed a piñata?
  • Was it similar or different to the one in the story?
  • Why do you think so?
  • What was a new word you learned when hearing the story?

About the Author & the Illustrator: 

samantha-r-vamos-photoSamantha R. Vamos was born in Madison, Wisconsin, where her parents met during graduate school. Vamos grew up on the East Coast and attended Georgetown University Law Center and practiced law in Washington, DC and Chicago, Illinois. After, her family lived in the Pacific Northwest for ten years – with the funniest cat and the sweetest dog – before moving to beautiful Northern California. Writing has always been a passion. Vamos has written stories since she was a teen and publishing those stories was one of her greatest dreams. Vamos was most influenced to write by her mother. She loves writing stories for children!  BEFORE YOU WERE HERE, MI AMOR (Viking, 2009) was inspired by the birth of Samantha’s sister’s first child. THE CAZUELA THAT THE FARM MAIDEN STIRRED (Charlesbridge, 2011) popped into her head while she was cooking. She was inspired to write ALPHABET TRUCKS (Charlesbridge, 2013), after watching a zipper truck along a highway. ALPHABET TRAINS (Charlesbridge, 2015) and ALPHABET BOATS (2018) are companion books in the alphabet transportation series.
Six of Samantha’s favorite books (there are many more) include “Watership Down” by Richard Adams, “Lonesome Dove” by Larry McMurtry, “The Power of One” by Bryce Courtenay, “A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole, “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” by William Kotzwinkle, and “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger.Some children’s favorites include “Dinner at the Panda Palace” by Stephanie Calmenson, “One Hungry Monster” by Susan Heyboer O’Keefe, “Agent A to Agent Z” by Andy Rash, “Brave Irene” by William Steig, “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman, “Okay for Now” by Gary D. Schmidt, and the “Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling.

sebastia-serra-largeSebastià Serra has illustrated more than seventy children’s books in Spain, Italy, France, UK, Portugal, Taiwan, Brazil and the United States. Also, he has worked as graphic designer for several television shows, family theater and many museums and cultural institutions.

Serra was selected three times for the M oyster degli Illustratori di Libri per ragazzi  at Bologna Children’s Book Fair and Also for the  Society of Illustrators of New York, in the Original Art exhibition: The Fine Art of Children’s Books Illustration.

He also took part in illustration exhibitions at  The Museum of American Illustration of New York,  Chicago Art Institute, Northwestern University of Illinois, Itabashi Art Museum of Tokyo , Korea  Society of Illustrators ,  International Illustrators Exchange of Prague and Frankfurt Book Fair.

He won the Mercè Llimona Prize, the Lola Anglada prize, the Serra d’Or Critics Prize, and twice Junceda Prizes by the Professional Association of Illustrators of Catalonia.

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