cover image MICE AND BEANS


Pam Munoz Ryan, , illus. by Joe Cepeda. . Scholastic, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-439-18303-1

Muñoz's (Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride) rollicking birthday tale stars one Spanish-speaking grandmother, one very long list of party preparations and a band of enterprising mice. Rosa María spends all week getting ready for her seven-year-old granddaughter's birthday party, and each day items for the party keep disappearing. So do the mousetraps she sets each evening to ensure the celebration isn't ruined by uninvited guests. Cepeda's (What a Truly Cool World) full-bleed, sun-splashed paintings show with gleeful candor the missing objects being spirited away by resourceful rodents. Shots from the tops of cupboards or two inches off the floor show the busy creatures sneaking back and forth past Rosa María's feet as she cooks and cleans in her big earrings and flashy high heels. But the mice redeem themselves by remembering to fill the piñata with candy when it slips the hostess's mind. The dialogue is rich in Spanish phrases ("¡Qué boba soy! Silly me"), descriptions of Mexican food and images of a boisterous extended family—"Where there's room in the heart, there's room in the house… even for a mouse," Rosa María concludes. Cepeda wraps up this festive volume by showing how the well-meaning vandals have put their loot to use—by throwing a mouse party of their own. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)