"When there's room in the heart, there's room in the house, except for a mouse." Those are the words that Rosa María remembers (an old saying from her mother) as she's preparing for the birthday of Little Catalina, her soon-to-be 7-year-old granddaughter. She's hoping to squeeze the entire family into her tiny casita for a fiesta with enchiladas, rice and beans ("no dinner was complete without rice and beans!"), birthday cake, a brand-new swing set, and even a piñata packed with candy.
But in the week before the party, there's so much to keep track of ("I am so busy that I'm forgetting to remember!") that she's just not sure she'll have everything ready. And to top it off, she keeps forgetting to set mousetraps for all the ratones scurrying around her home... or does she? She might not know it yet, but Rosa María lives with some pretty clever mice.
Illustrator Joe Cepeda's forgetful abuelita is a riot as she preps for the party, with her giant red glasses and braided blonde hair like a loaf of bread. Those frisky little rodents also manage to put on quite a show scrabbling around the vibrantly colored casita. Pam Muñoz Ryan's expert timing, rhythmic repetition, and skillfully sprinkled Spanish (with pronunciation glossary in the back) keep the story moving muy rápido, and the party--of course--turns out wonderfully, but with at least one good surprise. Maybe Rosa María misheard her mother's saying about those mice after all. (Ages 4 to 8) --Paul Hughes