Kimmel, Eric A.. 2000. THE RUNAWAY TORTILLA. Ill. by Randy Cecil. New York: Winslow Press. ISBN 1-890817-18-X
Eric Kimmel puts a southwestern spin on the classic tale The Gingerbread Man in his book THE RUNAWAY TORTILLA. Tía Lupe and Tío José are the proud owners of the Texas taquería named El Papagayo Feliz. The tortillas made at this taquaría are the lightest and fluffiest tortillas around. One day, Tía Lupe made a tortilla so light that it jumped up and ran away! The clever tortilla made a mad dash across the Texas desert causing an eclectic mix of characters to pursue her.
Children will fall in love with this southwestern twisted take on the classic story The Gingerbread Man. Cultural variants of traditional tales, such as THE RUNAWAY TORTILLA, allow children to “gain insight into the customs and values of many nations and cultures” (Vardell 2008, 94). Moreover, telling familiar tales in several variant cultural formats allow children to “learn more about basic story elements, unique cultural marker, and their own personal responses” (Vardell 2008, 97).
The illustrations and text in this raucous caper fully represent the southwestern and Latino culture. In this southern version of The Gingerbread Man, the tortilla races across a Texas desert “past horned toads, rattlesnakes, cowboys, and other pursuers” native to the southwestern landscape (Kirkus Review 2000). The School Library Journal noted that “primitive oil paintings feature a palette of sunset colors” (School Library Journal 2000). The illustrator, a native Texan, paints the pictures of this book in the traditional southwestern earthy/warm colors of yellow, red, orange, and green. Moreover, the language is sprinkled with Spanish and southwestern language such as Senor/Senorita, taquaría, and arroyo.
There are many web-based activities that parents can utilize to supplement this fable. The books publisher, Winslow Press, has several fun games, activities, and relevant fun facts on their site (http://www.winslowpress.com/tortilla/tortilla.cfm#). In the classroom setting, teachers can compare/contrast multiple versions of The Gingerbread Man to discuss point-of-view and different cultures. For example, North East Independent School Library, in San Antonio, has a free compare/contrast group activity to be completed in a classroom or library setting (http://teacher.neisd.net/library/public/lessonplan/lessonplan.cfm?lessonpk=49).
What to Read Next:
Kimmel, Eric A.. 2009. THE THREE LITTLE TAMALES. Ill. by Valeria Docampo. New York: Two Lions. ISBN 978-0761455196
Nolte, Nancy. 2004. THE GINGERBREAD MAN. Ill. by Richard Scarry. New York: Golden Books. ISBN 978-0375825897
Kirkus Review. 2000. “THE RUNAWAY TORTILLA.” September 1. Accessed February 8, 2014. https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/eric-a-kimmel/the-runaway-tortilla/
School Library Journal. 2000. “THE RUNAWAY TORTILLA.” Amazon. Accessed February 8, 2014. http://www.amazon.com/The-Runaway-Tortilla-Eric-Kimmel/dp/189081718X.
Vardell, Sylvia M. 2008. CHILDREN’S LITERATURE IN ACTION: A LIBRARIAN’S GUIDE. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.