El Cucuy: A Bogeyman Cuento in English and Spanish


So, you’ve been mouthing off to your parents a bit lately, not listening when they tell you to put your dirty socks in the hamper? They tell you that if you don’t shape up they are going to call the bogeyman to come and get you. You laugh. There is no such thing as a bogeyman.

A sharp knock comes at the door. Nobody is around so you answer. Standing at the door is the oldest man you have ever seen—his back is hunched and one of his ears is big ...

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So, you’ve been mouthing off to your parents a bit lately, not listening when they tell you to put your dirty socks in the hamper? They tell you that if you don’t shape up they are going to call the bogeyman to come and get you. You laugh. There is no such thing as a bogeyman.

A sharp knock comes at the door. Nobody is around so you answer. Standing at the door is the oldest man you have ever seen—his back is hunched and one of his ears is big and red. He grabs for your arm and you know now that the bogeyman is for real.

This particular bogeyman is called el Cucuy (pronounced coo-COO-ee). He comes directly from Mexico. They say with that big red ear that he can hear everything! In this cautionary tale, master storyteller Joe Hayes tells how two girls didn’t listen to their father’s warnings—just like you—and el Cucuy snatched them up. Of course, the story has a happy ending!

Joe Hayes has become one of America’s premier storytellers, traveling around the country to schools, universities and professional conferences to tell stories from the Southwest. His bilingual Spanish-English tellings have earned him a distinctive place among America’s storytellers. Hayes lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Illustrator Honorio Robledo grew up in a small village in southwestern Mexico. His art is influenced by the Surrealists but also by the native painters of Veracruz that express through color all the riches of the region. Robledo lives in Los Angeles, California.

A retelling of the story of two sisters who do not obey their father and are carried off into the mountains by El Cucuy.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Gr 1-3-It's no wonder that Hayes has a reputation in the Southwest and beyond as a premier storyteller. This is a tale that is meant to be read aloud with a group (and maybe even in the dark). Although the author acknowledges that the bogeyman tale is a bit harsh for modern sensibilities, he defends his choice to keep the authentic and scary elements of this traditional folktale. In it, two little girls are seen by their long-suffering father as being lazy and disobedient. Although he threatens repeatedly to call the Cucuy to take them away, they scoff at the threats and even escalate their bad behavior. When the Cucuy does come and carts them away roughly to his lair in the mountains, the girls are horrified and frightened. Robledo does a great job of making his illustrations scary with wild rolling eyes, fierce dogs, and an appropriately hideous bogeyman. The prescribed happy ending comes when a shepherd finds the girls in a cave and reunites them with their grieving father. The authentically regional Spanish text reads very smoothly. Recommended for public libraries and bookstores. M.O.B. Rosa-Mendoza, Gladys. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Remember stories about the bogeyman and how he was going to get you? Well here's one from Hispanic culture retold by Joe Hayes. This cautionary tale unfolds with strong, descriptive language in both Spanish and English. After the mother's death, a man must raise his three daughters alone. The youngest does all the work around the house because her two older sisters are too lazy and full of mischief. When their tricks go too far, the angry father calls out to the Cucuy (pronounced coo-COO-ee) to come down from his cave in the mountain and carry them away. The girls think this is just an idle threat until the Cucuy arrives and hauls them off. The poor girls are stashed deep in a cave where they truly regret their misdeeds. Father also regrets calling the Cucuy and spends his time searching for them. Finally the girls are rescued when a goatherder hears their cries. Once again united as a family, the sisters promise to be good. Bold colors in primitive style artwork add to the impact of the story. In the endnotes, the author admits that the story seems harsh in light of today's sensitivities. But his retelling has just the right touch. 2001, Cinco Puntos Press, $15.95. Ages 7 to 10. Reviewer: Marianne Mitchell
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-This bilingual retelling is a welcome addition for Spanish speakers who may recognize the bogeyman as el Cucuy. He is described as a gigantic old man with a humped back and a large, red left ear that can hear everything (on the cover el Cucuy's right ear is shown as red and huge). The legend goes that "Sometimes he comes down from his cave in the mountains to carry bad children away." A father, troubled by his two eldest daughters' disobedience and laziness, calls out toward the mountains "`aCucuy! aCucuy! Baja para llevarte a estas malcriadas.' Come and get these bad girls." The girls make fun of their father's belief in a bogeyman, and what happens next is not surprising-el Cucuy comes to get them and carries them away to his cave. In the end, the remorseful girls are reunited with their father. The vividly colored illustrations add much to the tale, especially the characters' large eyes, which give an eerie feel to the story. The note at the end is a wonderful resource on the history of this folktale.-Diane Olivo-Posner, Long Beach Public Library, CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780938317784
  • Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2003
  • Language: Spanish
  • Series: Working Classics Series
  • Edition description: Bilingual Edition
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 525,561
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: 770L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Joe Hayes is one of America's premier storytellers. He grew up in a small town in southern Arizona where he learned Spanish from his classmates. As he got older, Joe began gathering old stories from the Southwest. Joe has earned a distinctive role as a bilingual storyteller. Artist and musician Honorio Robledo has done two books with Cinco Puntos: El Cucuy and Nico Visits the Moon, and a book with Children's Book Press. He and his wife Luana recently moved to Mexico so their children could grow up barefoot.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 6, 2011

    Great Bilingual Book!

    Loved the rich culture and history of the Cucuy with a twist! My 16 month old loves the story and beautiful illustrations!

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