The Day It Snowed Tortillas

El día que nevaron tortillas

By: Joe Hayes
Illustrator: Antonio Castro L.
Translator: Joe Hayes
Kids of all ages are always asking Joe Hayes, “How can it snow tortillas?” Well, now they’ll know where to find the answer!


One of the "All-Time Favorite Books for Kids" —Bloomsbury Review

Readers of all ages will delight in these magical tales. In the title story, for instance, a very clever woman saves her silly husband from a band of robbers. She makes the old man believe it snowed tortillas during the night! In another story, a young boy gladly gives up all of his wages for good advice. His parents think he is a fool, but the good advice leads to wealth and a royal marriage. The enchantment continues in story after story: a clever thief tricks a king for his kingdom and a prince finds his beloved in a houseful of wicked stepsisters. And of course, we listen again to the ancient tale of the weeping woman, La Llorona, who still searches for her drowned children along the riverbanks.

Lectores de todas las edades se deleitarán con estos cuentos mágicos. Por ejemplo, en la historia del titulo, una mujer muy astuta salva a su tonto esposo de una banda de rateros. ¡Le hace creer al viejo hombre que durante la noche nevaron tortillas! En otra historia, un niño con gusto intercambia todo su salario por un buen consejo. Sus padres creen que fue un tonto, pero el consejo lo lleva a tener riquezas y un matrimonio real. El encanto continua cuento a cuento: un ingenioso ratero engaña a un rey por su reino y un príncipe encuentra a su amada en una casa llena de hermanastras malvadas. Y claro, volvemos a escuchar la antigua historia de La Llorona que sigue buscando a sus hijos a la orilla del río.

Stories included in The Day It Snowed Tortillas:
  • The Day It Snowed Tortillas / El día que nevaron tortillas
  • Pedro and Diablo / Pedro y el Diablo
  • Good Advice / Buenos Consejos
  • The Cricket / El Grillo
  • The Little Ant / La Hormiguita
  • The Best Thief / El Mejor Ladrón
  • Little Gold Star / Estrellita de Oro
  • La Llorona / The Weeping Woman
  • Juan Camisón
  • The Prince / El Príncipe
  • Note to Readers and Storytellers

Want to know a little more about these stories, their plots and their origins? Check out this note by Joe Hayes to readers and storytellers that's located at the back of the book!

Watch Joe Hayes tell the title story in this collection, The Day It Snowed Tortillas, in this free, online video, part of the Joe Hayes Storytelling Collection.

6 reviews for The Day It Snowed Tortillas

  1. School Library Journal
    “A master storyteller sets down 10 tales told in New Mexico. In the title story, a clever wife diverts some thieves who are after her dim-witted husband, thus assuring the couples prosperity. In a cumulative tale, a little ant escapes being stuck forever in the cold under a large snowflake by enlisting help from tiny cousin flea. The stories are well told, rhythmic, and spellbinding, both in English and in the colloquial Spanish. Hayes is a fine translator, and these stories are a testament to his expert execution of this exacting art. The format indicates that the book is designed more for the storyteller than for the reader. A paragraph of English text alternates with the same paragraph in Spanish. This makes for choppy reading, but is a natural and helpful division if the tale is being memorized. Each story begins with a full-page pencil drawing. Photographic in detail, Castro L.s art extends the stories a bit. Notes to the stories give history as well as the Arne-Thompson numbers for the tale type. Similar in content to Carmen Diana Deardens Little Book of Latin American Folktales (Groundwood, 2003), Hayes’ work is the better told of the two. It could be used alongside Mary-Joan Gersons excellent Fiesta Femenina (Barefoot, 2001) for a storytime that points out similarities and differences in Mexican and New Mexican folktales. An excellent purchase for storytelling librarians or for schools with storytelling clubs.”

  2. Críticas
    “Recognized as Cinco Puntos’s best-selling author, Hayes has written such modern favorites as El Cucuy! A Bogeyman Cuento in English and Spanish (2001); La Llorona: The Weeping Woman (1987); and, most recently, Pajaro verde/The Green Bird (2002). The Day it Snowed Tortillas was originally published in English in the 1980s and has sold almost 40,000 copies. Now available in a bilingual edition with new artwork by Antonio L. Castro, this collection’s title story tells the tale of a poor woodcutter and his very clever wife. When the woodcutter comes home with three bags of gold he has found, his wife knows he cannot be trusted to keep the secret.”

  3. Children’s Literature
    “This flip-book by Joe Hayes relates ten Spanish folktales in both English and Spanish. A pencil drawing accompanies each story. Though every story has a familiar feel, they all have a distinct Spanish flavor that makes them appealing. For example, in the title story, a man finds a bag of gold, and because his wife is more astute than he is, she keeps her husband from losing the gold. Each story shows the reader the importance of cunning and smart thinking. Though the characters vary in many ways —there are princes, thieves, ghosts, etc. —they all represent universal forms. The wide range of stories offers something enjoyable for everyone. The book also exposes readers to both Spanish and English through its integration of the two languages in the text. Overall, the book is enjoyable and fun.”

  4. San Antonio Express-News
    “Joe Hayes’ “The Day It Snowed Tortillas” or El Dia Que Nevaron Tortillas, a bilingual collection of folktales, is full of magical twists and turns that are just as entertaining to grownups as to the intended audience: children. Like the word tortilla, these folktales with their colorful characters and magical settings maintain a charm that transcends all language barriers.

    Among the enchanting characters we meet: A slow woodcutter, a lazy boy called Juan Camison for his large shirt (camiseta), a compadre called El Grillo (The Cricket) because he never shuts up, a lost ant, the best thief in town, a prince and even the infamous La Llorona. These characters are so fantastic and incredibly humorous that we cannot help but laugh at their stories.

    In the title story, an uneducated woodcutter is overjoyed when he finds three sacks of gold on the road. Knowing full well that these sacks could only belong to robbers—los ladrones―the woodcutter’s smart wife creates a plan to protect her husband. With 100 pounds of flour, she makes tortilla after tortilla, later tossing them all over the ground to trick her husband into thinking that it actually snowed tortillas.

    Even La Llorona, whose spooky legend has scared many children, is playfully portrayed as a crazy ghost woman. When she mistakes a small boy for her son―whom she threw into the river―she drops the boy and disappears back into the forest when he says a little prayer to the Virgin Mary – “Ave, Maria Purisima!”

    Not one of Hayes’ stories goes without a happy ending. Whether it is El Grillo’s lucky escape or the little ant’s lucky return home, these twisted “happily ever after” endings are sure to give off a spark of optimism to all readers. These stories deserve more retellings.”

  5. El Paso ISD Library Review
    “This collection of 10 folktales told in Spanish and English has been compiled by a popular storyteller and presented in a bilingual format with English on the left page and Spanish on the right page. The stories are tales that Mr. Hayes enjoys telling such as “Pedro and Diablo,” “The Cricket,” and “Little Gold Star.” Each story is accompanied by one black and white illustration on the first page. The stories are well constructed, lean and full of twists and turns. Mr. Hayes also includes source notes for readers and storytellers. These tales would be good material for storytellers or story readers. The stories also would work well in units about local folklore and as compare/contrast materials. Well worth the price. You may even want two copies of this gem.”

  6. Yellow Brick Road
    “Middle reader to adult. This brand-new bilingual edition of his signature book distills twenty years of Joe Hayes’ inimitable storytelling. There are great read-aloud stories here, including the beloved The Little Ant.”

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