The author: A poet, author, journalist, and activist, Martínez wrote the 1996 novel Mother Tongue, based in part on her 1988 trial for conspiracy against the United States government in connection with smuggling Salvadoran refugees into the country; a collection of autobiographical essays, Confessions of a Berlitz-Tape Chicana, which won the 2006 International Latino Book Award in biography; and two books of poetry. Martínez blogs about human rights issues for the National Catholic Reporter. Grandpa’s Magic Tortilla is her first children’s book.
The book: Set in the New Mexico village of Chimayo, this bilingual tale celebrates imagination and family. When three children visit their grandparents, the grandfather leaves a tortilla on the griddle too long, burning it. Then the magic starts that only children can see: the burnt tortilla takes the shape of different animals – a dolphin, a bear, a coyote. Before long, the neighborhood kids are eager to get a look at the magic tortilla changing shape before their eyes.
Review: Kirkus wrote, “Magical thinking runs throughout this lengthy, mostly dialogue-driven text; from speculation about the tortilla, it is transferred to creativity through the relation of dreams, reading, and painting — this last in the form of a wagon full of apology pictures after a hungry little neighbor boy eats the enchanted tortilla.”