The winter holidays are approaching which for many of us means impending celebrations that revolve around…food! That is why this week, in light of Thanksgiving, I present a review of Round Is a Tortilla: A Book of Shapes (ages 3-5), written by Roseanne Greenfield Thong and illustrated by John Parra, a children’s picture book that teaches about food and shapes featuring objects that are Latino in origin.
Here is a description from Goodreads:
Round are tortillas and tacos, too. Round is a bowl of abuela’s stew. In this lively picture book, children discover a world of shapes all around them: Rectangles are ice-cream carts and stone utates, triangles are slices of watermelon and quesadillas. Many of the featured objects are Latino in origin, but all are universal in appeal. With rich, boisterous illustrations, a fun-to-read rhyming text, and an informative glossary, this playful concept book will reinforce the shapes found in every child’s day!
Aimed towards younger children, the book is a light read (only 2-4 lines per page). Even so, it encourages readers to further engage by searching out shapes in the illustrations and answering questions like in the following passage, “I find ovals at the store,/huevos, olives, beans galore./Can you name a couple more?” This interactive engagement makes this book a great choice to read aloud to your class, or read closely one-on-one with a student.
The book is multicultural because of its portrayal of foods and objects that stem from Latino culture, including tortillas, tacos, Abuela’s stew, paletas (popsicles), masa (dough from corn flour), guacamole, sandia (watermelon), and more. It also features scenes that represent Latino traditions such as grinding corn into masa, and a multi-generational family celebration involving dancing and mariachi music. You will also find that the book works as a great introduction to bilingual literature, as there are Spanish terms interspersed throughout, which readers can look up in the provided glossary at the end.
The illustrations are painted with streaking brush strokes in such a way that they add rustic texture to the scenes painted on the pages. The illustrator also pays close attention to paint clean, careful, and deliberate lines for details such as corn husks and papel picado. The diverse color palette and beautifully depicted emotional expressions of the subjects are sure to keep readers engaged.
In short, this is a great picture book to utilize to get children to identify shapes and introduce them to Spanish terms. The representation of Latino food, traditions and cultural objects makes it a valuable addition to any library hoping to include more multicultural literature. I hope that everyone gets to enjoy food and family this week. I’ll be back next week to bring you information about this month’s featured author, Matt de la Peña.
Here is a Reading is Fundamental educator’s guide to go along with the book that includes content connection activities for Science, Math, and Social Studies.
Also, inspired by the book, the Indianapolis Public Library compiled links to online games and printable worksheets to help children practice learning shapes.
If you like this book, check out its sequel-Green is a Chile Pepper: A Book of Colors.
Images: Modified from Round Is a Tortilla: A Book of Shapes illustrations, Illustrator: John Parra.