|Esperanza Caramelo : the star of Nochebuena
Author: Valenti, Karla
In a bakery on the eve of Nochebuena, sugar figurines come to life and a cake catastrophe is averted.
Kirkus Reviews (09/01/23)
School Library Journal (09/01/23)
The Hornbook (00/11/23)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 09/01/2023 K-Gr 3—In a magical kitchen full of bakery and pastry tools, a cake ornament comes to life. Esperanza Caramelo dances through the pages, bringing the other ornaments to life. Soon, it will be a celebration with cookie cutters, an abuelita, hot chocolate, dancing figures, and a Christmas tree that sits atop the cake. Nobody notices at first when a kitchen cat perks up and wants to play. In their dash to escape the cat, the cake and all the ornaments are overturned. It is up to the ornaments to make sure that the cake is presentable for Nochebuena. The next morning, the baker walks in with the cat on her shoulder. At this point, the narration breaks the fourth wall and addresses the audience in the second person, bringing readers into the story: "the baker knew what you and I have all along—her pastelería had been gifted with a touch of magic." Atop and around the cake, mariachis, abuelas, dancing partners, children and sparklers, and family pets are featured as a celebration within a celebration. The last page displays a family's Christmas joy, paralleling the celebration that Esperanza Caramelo and the other figurines had the night before. Each page is a feast for the eyes. Back matter includes the author's photos of her own abuela's pastry creations. VERDICT Richly illustrated with vibrant colors, this picture book is sure to please.—Stephanie Creamer - Copyright 2023 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 09/15/2023 From the author of the middle-grade novel Lotería (2021) and the creative mind of a Pura Belpré Honor–winning illustrator comes a wonderful story inspired by Valenti’s Mexican baker abuela and the elaborate sugar figurines she would create. This holiday-season story follows Esperanza, a Nochebuena cake ornament, as she comes to life from a magical ray of sunlight to arrange everything for the holiday and to spread a celebratory spirit. When a feline fiasco arises in the bakery, it’s up to her to save the night and the rest of her kitchen companions. Valenti’s wonder-filled addition to the holiday collection—vividly depicted by Chavarri’s bright, exciting scenes—will have readers wishing they could visit Lita’s Pastelería and meet Esperanza, whose name aptly means hope. In several wordless scenes, the art is enough to evoke the magic filling the night, and the sweet backgrounds are full of delicious and delightful clues and plenty of other details to keep readers invested as they root for this unlikely heroine. - Copyright 2023 Booklist.