Hooray, a Pinata!
Elisa Kleven. Dutton Books, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-45605-6
The best-laid party plans almost fall apart in this chipper outing. Clara wants to celebrate her birthday with her friends and the festivities are set to include a pinata. But Clara becomes so taken with the dog pinata she has chosen that she names the papier-mache pooch and takes him everywhere; she can't bear the thought that he will be broken. On the big day, Clara's friend Samson surprises her with a gift that saves the party as well as Clara's pinata pet. Kleven's (The Paper Princess; Abuela) perky writing speaks confidently to the everyday emotional ups and downs in the lives of children. The tolerance shown Clara's seemingly quirky ideas is positive and reassuring. Kleven's forceful paint-and-collage compositions remain kinetic fiestas of color and texture, spiced with the kind of Latin American flavor and visual detail that have helped make her work so recognizable. An endnote offers an informative history on the custom of smashing pinatas at parties. Ages 3-8. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996