________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 1. . . .September 5, 2014


Max Loves Muñecas!

Zetta Elliott. Illustrated by Mauricio J. Flores.
n.p.: Rosetta Press (www.zettaelliott.com), 2014.
72 pp., pbk., $7.00 (U.S.).
ISBN 978-1-49735-383-1.

Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10.

Review by Kay Weisman.

*** /4



“Not so fast, you two. Pepe, I demand that you tell me what has been going on here!”

Pepe tried hard not to cry. He knew he had disappointed the senora, but he desperately hoped she would forgive him once he told her the truth. Pepe took a deep breath and began.

“After you left, I hemmed the trousers just like you said, Senora. But then I wanted to do more and so I—I began working on the wedding gown you left at your sewing machine.” Pepe dropped his eyes, ashamed.

“You used my machine?” asked Senora Beatriz.

“Yes, Senora, and... I’m so sorry, but... I broke it!”

The senora’s eyes flashed with anger. Pepe rushed to finish his story. “But Primo is good at fixing things, and so I brought him here and he fixed your sewing machine, Senora. Really, it’s as good as new!”


A young boy named Max loves dolls, but he is afraid that others will make fun of him if he goes inside the doll boutique in his neighbourhood. One day the shop’s owner, Senor Pepe, invites Max to enter his boutique where the boy marvels at the dolls’ handmade faces, jewelry, and clothing. Sensing that he has met a kindred spirit, Senor Pepe tells Max the story of how he came to be a doll maker. Growing up as an orphan in Honduras, Pepe was taken in by a kindly seamstress and doll maker, Senora Beatriz, who taught him to sew and craft dolls. Later, Pepe’s uncle takes him to America and insists he work as a delivery person. Only when his new aunt senses Pepe’s real talents—and his love—does Pepe find a way to set up a shop as a doll maker.

internal art     While the title is misleading (Max serves more as a vehicle for this story than as an actual character), this story offers young readers a vivid picture of what it’s like to grow up poor without a family or safety net. Senora Beatriz’s kindness toward Pepe is both heartwarming and a life saver for him; in return, the adult Pepe’s reaches out to Max offering the same mentoring that was offered him.

      Based in part on Elliott’s father (who spent his childhood in the Caribbean creating toys from recycled materials) and on a New York doll boutique (Cozbi Babrera’s), Elliott’s heartfelt story could be inspirational to children whose own talents seem to be directing them to unusual pursuits. Senor Pepe’s words to Max reflect the sentiment of this story: “There is no shame in making something beautiful with your hands.”


Kay Weisman, a librarian and reviewer, now writes “Information Matters” for School Library Monthly and works as a youth librarian at West Vancouver Memorial Library.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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