The aroma of steamy corn deliciousness wraps Abuela’s home in incredible warmth and anticipation.
Alongside mounds of masa, earthy roasted chiles, and seasoned meat, the entire family forms an assembly line of cooperation and laughter. Family stories are shared and passed down to the kids, along with Abuela’s own unique way of creating her tamales. Each step carries a special message of encouragement: “may you always be flexible”; “may you always stand tall and proud”; “may you have lots and lots of hugs.” The tamales are wrapped in their pliable husks stuffed with dreams, hope, and love—and meat and chiles. As they steam, the family waits with paciencia—patience. Music, singing, and storytelling reverberate within the walls of Abuela’s home. Finally, the tamales are done. The savory Christmas Eve gifts are unwrapped one by one, and Abuela proclaims as the tamales disappear, “May your life be delicious!” Genhart’s loving tribute to the women of his Mexican American family is heartfelt and sincere. His mother is revealed in the author’s note to be the nieta (granddaughter) of the story, and she continues the family legacy at the book’s end with a new tamalada: “You start with una hoja….” The semibilingual text carries Lora’s illustrations, as they convey organized chaos while flickering between the vibrant colors of Christmas present and gray-toned memories of the past.The warmth of family love and support wafts enticingly through this homage to tradition. (illustrator’s note) (Picture book. 5-10)