The Empty Piñata

The Empty Piñata
La piñata vacía


An empty piñata provides the occasion for this gentle tale of sharing, generosity and reciprocity. Elena spends all of her pocket money buying presents for others… How will her piñata get filled?

One of the beloved titles of the series Stories the Year’ Round, or in Spanish, Cuentos para todo el año. The complete stories of the series are:

A Rose with Wings
A Surprise for Mother Rabbit
The Empty Piñata

Rosa alada
La sorpresa de Mamá Coneja
La piñata vacía

How the Rainbow Came to Be
After the Storm
In the Cow’s Backyard

Cómo nació el arco iris
Después de la tormenta
La hamaca de la vaca

The Kite
What Are Ghosts Afraid Of?
“Turkey for Thanksgiving?” “No, Thanks!”

El papalote
El susto de los fantasmas
–¿Pavo para la Cena de Gracias? –No, gracias.

The Golden Cage
I Don’t Want to Melt
It Wasn’t Me

La jaula dorada
¡No quiero derretirme!
No fui yo


There is a special value to listening to a books read by the author. Such recordings show just where the author wishes to convey feelings and emotions, emphasis and suspense. When the text is put to music it acquires additional interest for children.

I particularly like to read aloud and to record my readings so, for me, it was particularly joyful to record these twelve stories in English and Spanish.

The stories can be found in individual cassettes in English and Spanish, one for each book of the series, or in CDs in English and Spanish versions. Each of the CDs contains the twelve stories of the series.

A Special Bonus

Because these stories have been so beloved by children, I conceived the idea of giving them an extra dimension. I have rewritten the 12 stories in Spanish in verse format. And Suni Paz, with her incomparable creativity, has put them to music. So the Spanish cassettes and CD contain not only the story as published in the book told by me, but also the story retold in verse form and sang by Suni.


The twelve books of this series are some of my best well known books among bilingual teachers and their students. They are also very dear to my heart since the inspiration for most of them comes from my own children’s childhood.

The major source of inspiration for this book comes from my own children’s generosity. They were always ready not only to share but also to give away what they had.

They loved piñatas, which were not readily available then as they are now.

I had learned how to make piñatas from my mother, and made some for their birthdays when we lived in Perú, where the piñatas were a total novelty.

In California we were able to get them in the barrio. Once, because of Miguel’s love for birds I brought him a piñata in the form of a green parrot all the way from Mexico. He cherished it and kept it for a long time as a decoration in his room.

That piñata, which never held candy inside, but which held other valuable things, thoughts, feelings and dreams was the inspiration for this story of an empty piñata that gets filled thanks to the generosity of Elena.

I chose for the character the name of a very beloved teacher, my professor at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, and dear friend, Elena Catena, a very small way of honoring a great woman.

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If you have enjoyed reading or sharing this book, I would very much like to hear from you. Please click here to send your comments.