A Piñata in a Pine Tree: A Latino Twelve Days of Christmas

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
A Piñata in a Pine Tree: A Latino Twelve Days of Christmas Book Poster Image
Classic carol brims with Spanish words, Mexican traditions.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Introduces Latin American Christmas traditions and foods. Teaches Spanish vocabulary and pronunciation. 

Positive Messages

Implied message that Christmas is fun and music, food, and family can make you feel happy. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The unnamed little girl is enthusiastic and positive. Her parents are loving and caring. The little girl is kind to her baby sister. 

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Piñata in a Pine Tree: A Latino Twelve Days of Christmas, by Pat Mora, is a twist on the classic Christmas carol, with 12 Latin-flavored gift items listed in Spanish and easily understood from the pictures. Pronunciation tips appear in the art as well as in a glossary at he back. The items include different Latin American foods, seasonal things like bells, stars, and luminarias, musical instruments, and more. Central to the action is a loving family with a new baby. An author's note explains what it was like growing up in the United States celebrating Mexican Christmas traditions. In an illustrator's note, Magaly Morales talks about Christmas in Mexico, where she lives. 

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What's the story?

A PINATA IN A PINE TREE adapts the beloved Christmas carol, replacing the familiar European references to lords, ladies, and geese with Spanish vocabulary and Latin American cultural traditions of the season, from luminarias and piñatas to tamales and pastelitos (small pies). A loving family glides through the food- and fun-filled pages, with a focus on a little girl and her tiny baby sister.

Is it any good?

This vibrant, Latin-flavored Christmas carol sweeps readers up in its joyous seasonal exuberance, as a little girl recounts the 12 gifts she receives in the song's familiar cadence and repetition. Spanish vocabulary replaces the English words many kids know, and readers will learn from the art their exact meaning, from foods to toys to decorations. There's lots to look at, count, and identify, with helpful pronunciation guides in the art itself as well as in the glossary at the back. A Piñata in a Pine Tree: A Latino Twelve Days of Christmas invites you to sing, eat, and enjoy the holidays as it celebrates Latin American culture and tradition.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the Christmas traditions shown in A Piñata in a Pine Tree: A Latino Twelve Days of Christmas. What's the same in your family? What's different? 

  • How many Spanish words were new to you? Which ones did you know already? 

  • Try singing the Christmas carol with the Spanish words, shown with the sheet music on the last page. 

Book details

For kids who love holiday books and bilingual stories

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