Title: Chato's Kitchen.
Publisher: Putnam, New York
Publication Date: 1995
Edition: First Printing of the First US Edition.
A Fine unread copy in a Fine dust jacket. Soto commands a poet's gift for defining characters quickly, densely and, in this case, with hilariously choice words. Paired with Guevara's wickedly funny, urban paints, Soto's story of Chato, a cool, "low-riding cat" of East Los Angeles, is a scream. Chato and his friend Novio Boy plan a dinner for (and, they hope, of) the new mice next door. But the mice bring a surprise guest named Chorizo (sausage), who turns out to be a truly low-riding dachshund. Foiled, the cats resign themselves to mouseless fajitas. It's a basic enough tale, but close to brilliant in its execution. Guevara's cats are delicious send-ups of barrio characters, and Soto's words glisten with wit: "We brought Chorizo,' Mami mouse called./ Sausage! Chato and Novio Boy danced, and with clean paws they gave each other a 'low-four.'" Ages 4-8. Bookseller Inventory # 25048
Synopsis: Chato, the coolest cat in East L.A., and his buddy, Novio Boy, prepare to serve up a special housewarming party for their new neighbors, a family of mice, in which their guests are also the main course, but the mice bring along their own guest, Chorizo, the toughest dog in the barrio.
Review: "Chato, a low-riding cat with six stripes, was slinking toward a sparrow when he heard the scrape of tiny feet coming from the yard next door." You get the idea. Chato is a sly, mustachioed "cool cat" from an East Los Angeles barrio. The tiny feet? Those belong to the new mice ( ratoncitos) next door--"five mice the color of gray river rock," to be precise. Chato promptly invites them over for dinner, in exactly the sense you might fear.
"That Chato cat seems muy simpatico, very nice, I'm sure," says Papi mouse. The mice (being cheese lovers) spend the day making quesadillas for the fiesta, while Chato and his best friend Novio Boy busily prepare side dishes for a meal con ratoncitos. Instead of the anticipated gruesome ending, a surprise twist is in the works.
Gary Soto, author of Too Many Tamales, is brilliantly witty, and Chato's Kitchen--an ALA Notable Book and a Parents' Choice Award Winner--is truly marvilloso. Susan Guevera's comical, deliciously detailed, richly colored depictions of the creatures are priceless as well, earning her the 1996 Pura Belpre Award for Illustration. A culinary concoction that no youngster (or adult) will be able to resist. (Ages 4 to 8)
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