Carlos and the Squash Plant
Carlos y la Planta de Calabaza

Author: Jan Romero Stevens; Illustrator: Jeanne Arnold
Pages: 32
Publisher/Date: Rising Moon/1993
ISBN: 0-87358-559-3
Age Levels: 5-8

Book Review

Carlos and his family live in the mountains of northern New Mexico where they farm. Carlos's favorite vegetable is squash because his mother uses it to make calabacitas, a special dish with corn, cheese, chiles, and squash.

Carlos works hard in the garden and comes home caked with dirt at the end of the day. Like many children, Carlos hates to take baths. He goes into the bathroom, washes his face, and pretends that he has taken a bath. His mother warns him, "If you don't wash your ears, a squash plant will grow in them!" Carlos pays no attention to his mother's warning, however.

One day Carlos wakes up to find a little green squash stem growing out of his ear. He hides the stem from his mother by wearing a wide-brimmed hat. Each morning Carlos awakes to find the stem bigger and leafier. Finally he has to resort to twisting the vine around his head and placing the hat over it. Unfortunately, on one particularly windy day, the hat blows away. Carlos runs homes and takes a bath, scrubbing his ear until the squash vine disappears.

Happily, Carlos runs into dinner to find his mother has made him his favorite meal: calabacitas.

The story is told in both Spanish and English (on the same page). The text flows well and works wonderfully as a read-aloud. Arnold's illustrations are bold, colorful, and expressive, reminiscent of Diego Rivera. Included is a recipe for calabacitas.

Reviewed by the teachers at Education Oasis
©2003 Education Oasis

About the Author

Jan Romero Stevens is also the author of Twelve Lizards Leaping: A New Twelve Days of Christmas, Carlos and the Carnival, Carlos and the Skunk, Carlos and the Cornfield, and Carlos Digs to China.

About the Illustrator

Jeanne Arnold lives in Salt Lake City, UT, and is also the illustrator of Carlos and the Carnival, Carlos and the Skunk, Carlos and the Cornfield, and Carlos Digs to China.