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CHILES FOR BENITO/CHILES PARA BENITO by Ana Baca

CHILES FOR BENITO/CHILES PARA BENITO

By Ana Baca (Author) , Anthony Accardo (Illustrator)

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 1-55885-389-8
Publisher: Piñata Books/Arté Público

In this New Mexican variation on “Jack and the Beanstalk,” Christina’s grandmother explains to her the importance of chile peppers to their people by telling her the story of her great-grandfather Benito. When young Benito’s cow fails to win a prize at the county fair, he trades her for a packet of “magic” seeds. Although his trading partner tells him to plant and tend only one seed, Benito thinks it better to plant them all. Soon his mother’s field is covered with the rapidly growing plants, and the neighbors angrily complain that the weed is invading their fields as well. But as Benito and the neighbors learn, the plant is not a weed; it yields tart but sweet red pods that add spice to meals. Besides providing opportunities for teachers to compare Jack and Benito, this variation also explains the presence of strung chiles—ristras—as fall and Christmas decorations in much of the Southwest. Accardo’s illustrations feature warm pastels, slightly exaggerated facial characteristics, and sharp details. Rendered in both Spanish and English, the tale is a natural not only for southwestern libraries, but also for any serving Spanish-speaking patrons. (recipe) (Picture book. 4-8)