cover image Maria the Matador

Maria the Matador

Anne Lambelet. Page Street Kids, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-62414-656-5

Newcomer Lambelet establishes an unexpected solution to a sweet, non-threatening problem: Maria has an insatiable appetite for churros. She “couldn’t see a churro without needing a taste,/ she couldn’t taste a churro without having to finish it,/ and she could never finish one churro without wanting MORE CHURROS!” A local bullfighting contest offers a lifetime supply of the treat as its prize, and she gazes at the poster, and at others nearby, as she formulates a plan. Diminutive Maria’s no traditional bullfighter, and the other matadors laugh when she arrives smartly dressed for the occasion, but the way she calms the bull and wins the prize (a parade of men carry steaming platters of churros to her in the ring) is an object lesson in both thinking outside the box and in relying on determination over brute strength. Lambelet’s characters are drawn as doll-like figures with angular faces etched with hatched, wood grain–like lines, and her spreads feature deep reds and browns. Repeated, rhythmic phrasing and emphasis augmented by creative typography give the story about a girl who feels free to change the rules some readaloud punch. Ages 4–8[em]. Agent: Stephanie Fretwell-Hill, Red Fox Literary. (Feb.) [/em]