Juan Verdades: The Man Who Couldn't Tell a Lie

Juan Verdades: The Man Who Couldn't Tell a Lie

by Joe Hayes, Joseph Daniel Fiedler, Joseph Daniel Fiedler, Joseph Daniel Fiedler
     
 

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In the heat of an argument in the village plaza, two wealthy rancheros bet all they own on the honesty � or lack thereof � of a ranch foreman known as Juan Verdades (John Truth). Juan's employer, one of the betting rancheros, doesn't about Juan's honesty for a second. But when the other ranchero's beautiful daughter enters the picture, Juan's truthfulness is in

Overview

In the heat of an argument in the village plaza, two wealthy rancheros bet all they own on the honesty � or lack thereof � of a ranch foreman known as Juan Verdades (John Truth). Juan's employer, one of the betting rancheros, doesn't about Juan's honesty for a second. But when the other ranchero's beautiful daughter enters the picture, Juan's truthfulness is in rapid danger of failing him.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Hayes (A Spoon for Every Bite) offers a Hispanic setting for his smooth retelling of a traditional tale about a steadfastly honest servant. On a ranch owned by don Ignacio, a spectacular apple tree flourishes under the conscientious care of the foreman, Juan Verdades, who reports daily to the rancher on the condition of his beloved tree. When a fellow rancher, don Arturo, boasts that he can make Juan tell a lie, don Ignacio replies, "I'll bet my ranch against yours that you can't make my foreman lie to me." Using his daughter as a pawn, don Arturo hatches a plot to win his wager, but things don't go quite as he anticipated. Though the subtitle leaves little doubt as to the resolution of the bet, Hayes's flowing plot, enlivened by several wry twists, is decidedly satisfying. Spanish words and phrases dot the characters' dialogue, enhancing the regional flavor. Fiedler's (The Crystal Heart) spare, earth-toned paintings convey the particulars of the setting from traditional garb to the sprawling landscapes as well as the timelessness of folklore. Ages 7-10. (Nov.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Juan Verdades is an honest man, a faithful overseer of the vast farmlands owned by his employer, a wealthy ranchero called don Ignacio. The ranchero has many valuable animals and fields, but the most prized of them all is el manzano real—the royal apple tree—which each year gives sweeter, more plentiful fruit than any other tree in the countryside. Other rancheros would insist on tending such a valuable tree themselves, but don Ignacio trusts its care to Juan Verdades. His foreman tells him every evening how his fruit is ripening, how large the harvest might be, and when the right time to pick the apples will be. Not believing that there could be an employee who didn't lie to his boss, boastful don Arturo bets his ranch against don Ignacio's that he can make Juan Verdades tell a lie and that this lie will be about el manzano real. Despite the many traps that don Arturo sets for Juan, he never once tells a lie. He even gets assistance from don Arturo's beautiful daughter, Araceli, in order to foil don Arturo's plans. In the end, don Ignacio keeps his ranch, his apple tree and his pride in the honesty of his foreman. And Juan Verdades finds that if you tell the truth, you can get what you want from life. The author of this expertly re-told tale is resident storyteller at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He has taken a traditional tale, often told in Spain and Latin America, and given it a more literary treatment. The language is dignified and incorporates Spanish terms in the text. The story has also been given a more modern turn, because the part that the rancher's daughter plays in the plot is strengthened and broadened. The full-colorillustrations are done in warm southwestern tones with brush strokes that evoke the dusty haze of a desert afternoon. This is a beautifully done picture book, in both pictures and words. The story is rich and will provide much for young readers to think about, long after the tale is told. 2001, Orchard Books, $16.95. Ages 6 to 12. Reviewer: Dianne Ochiltree
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-Don Ignacio, a wealthy rancher and owner of the finest apple tree in the area, implicitly trusts his foreman, Juan Valdez. When a friend claims that no employee should be trusted, don Ignacio declares openly that Juan can't tell a lie and in fact has been nicknamed Juan Verdades because of his honesty. Don Arturo then bets his entire ranch that he can get the man to tell a lie. Beautiful Araceli, don Arturo's daughter, schemes with her father to win the wager. When Juan falls in love with her, she asks him to bring her all the fruit from the prized tree. The man does as she asks but must then face his employer. The clever conclusion proves just how truthful Juan is. Hayes's retelling of this tale is masterful and he manages to introduce several Spanish words without disturbing the flow of the text. The full-page paintings capture a distinct landscape and costume and convey the quiet drama of the story. Their dark jewel tones lend a brooding atmosphere, in keeping with the midsection of the tale. As a read-aloud, this story would be likely to evoke some lively discussion about honesty, and right and wrong.-Barbara Buckley, Rockville Centre Public Library, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
As Hayes (El Cucuy!, not reviewed, etc.) explains in his author's note, he has revised a variant of Aarne-Thompson's tale type 889, "The Faithful Servant," drawing on versions collected in Spain and New Mexico. Hayes makes the young woman a stronger character and adds other twists to this delightful tale, eloquently told, of two men who bet their ranches that the servant of one of them can be made to tell a lie. The reader is kept in suspense as to how the several strands of the narrative will come together: the magnificent prized apple tree, the love story of the beautiful Araceli and the servant Juan Valdez (nicknamed Verdades because he is so truthful), and the wager between the two wealthy ranchers. The final riddle, a Hayes invention, will appeal to young readers. This calls for careful listening; though the text is long, the telling is captivating. Fiedler's (My Lady King Hatshepsut, 2001, etc.) rather somber paintings-one per double page, facing the text-in combination with Hayes's sprinkling of Spanish phrases, provide an authentic historical northern New Mexico setting that gives the story a strong sense of time and place, making this an interesting and unusual addition to folklore collections. (Picture book/folktale. 7-12)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780439293112
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
10/28/2001
Series:
Juan Verdades
Edition description:
1ST
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
9.51(w) x 10.32(h) x 0.36(d)
Lexile:
650L (what's this?)
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

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