Martina the Beautiful Cockroach

Martina the Beautiful Cockroach

4.5 12
by Carmen Agra Deedy

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Carmen Agra Deedy delivers a deliciously inventive Cuban version of the beloved Martina folktale, complete with a dash of café cubano.  See more details below


Carmen Agra Deedy delivers a deliciously inventive Cuban version of the beloved Martina folktale, complete with a dash of café cubano.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In retelling a popular Cuban folktale, Deedy (The Yellow Star) shares a secret closely guarded by Cuban grandmothers-at least, by Cuban grandmothers of cockroaches. When you spill coffee on your suitor's shoes, Abuela tells her 21-day-old granddaughter Martina Josefina Catalina Cucaracha, his reaction tells you all you need to know about what sort of spouse he will make. And events prove her right. "¡Ki-ki-ri-kiiii!" storms Don Gallo, the rooster, who seconds before has proposed very prettily to the six-legged beauty. "Clumsy cockroach! I will teach you better manners when you are my wife!" Don Cerdo the pig and Don Lagarto the lizard fare no better ("You are much too cold-blooded for me," Martina tells the lizard, who reveals in his irritation that he has actually planned to eat her). As a note on the book jacket explains, Cuban cockroaches are a lovely green, and Austin's (The Horned Toad Prince) lime-colored Martina, in high heels and a lace mantilla, appears the picture of maidenly charm. ("Daintily, she sat down/ and crossed her legs,/ and crossed her legs,/ and crossed her legs," quips Deedy.) Austin's cockroach dwelling is a desirable piece of real estate, with its stairs made of gum wrappers, its wrought-plastic comb railing, and its exclusive mid-Havana address (it's a lamppost). A friendly sprinkling of Spanish words, warmly drawn relationships and a lot of puns all widen the audience for this spirited story. A Spanish-language version is available as well. Ages 6-10. (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Kendall Barnes
Martina Josefina Catalina Cucaracha is 21 days old, which means she is ready to give her "leg" in marriage. Martina's Cuban grandmother tells her that she will need to spill coffee on a suitor's shoes to find out how he deals with his temper. This will, in turn, tell Catalina how he will act toward her in the long run. Even though she is leery about the coffee test, she still tries it, and is shocked at how well it works. Her first few prospective husbands all show their "true sides" when she spills coffee on them. At last, she meets Perez, the mouse, who also has a Cuban grandmother. Martina's heart pounds at the sight of him, and she knows she has found her perfect match when he performs the coffee test on her! The illustrations in the book are bright and bubbly and coincide well with the text. In addition, the aspects of Cuban culture that Deedy integrates into this work of animal fantasy make it an effective piece of multicultural literature. Reviewer: Kendall Barnes
Kirkus Reviews
Available in both English and Spanish editions, this new version of a story told in Cuba, Puerto Rico and other LatinAmerican countries is lively and funny, without the sad ending found in some tellings. With the help of her wise grandmother, Martina tries to find the best husband from among the suitors lining up to marry her. With the traditional "Coffee Test"-she spills hot coffee on their shoes to see their response-she is able to see that none of the wouldbe husbands-the haughty rooster, the odorous pig and the cockroacheating lizard-are good choices, judging by their angry reactions. Finally, Abuela (grandmother) shows her a humble mouse, Perez, who has a sweet voice. Martina falls in love at once, although she is surprised when he turns the tables and uses the Coffee Test on her, as instructed by his Cuban grandmother. The acrylic paintings have a dreamy, surrealistic quality, and elements of Cuban housewares and products can be found in Martina's home in a streetlamp. Fun to compare with other versions, this telling has magic all its own. (Folklore. 610)

Product Details

Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
Publication date:
Edition description:
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Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 4.75(h) x 0.10(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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