Previously paired for The Bossy Gallito, the author, who grew up in Cuba, and the artist, who grew up in Puerto Rico, plumb their own rich childhood memories for this thoroughly enjoyable collection of six "cuentos favoritos" (favorite tales). Gonzalez, a children's librarian and storyteller, knows just how to wring the most out of a story, and here she skillfully bolsters half a dozen folktales with generous helpings of lively dialogue and a sprinkling of Spanish words and phrases to create lilting readalouds. Some of the tales are familiar ("Juan Bobo and the Three-Legged Pot" in particular), some are not; all are much enhanced by Delacre's sun-dappled watercolors. Each page is framed with a border drawing of delicate wrought-iron work (a decorative staple in Spanish architecture) which visually intensifies the Latino flavor, and a glossary at the end of each story helps with pronunciation. There's even an informative afterword for each tale that offers a little something extra for adults (including Delacre's recipe for arroz con pollo). Ages 3-7. (Mar.)
- Karen Saxe
Gonzalez retells six stories first told to her as a child in Cuba. Some of these stories come from the Spanish and other European settlers, some come from the African tradition-imported via the slave ships, and some come from the indigenous cultures of Latin America. As Gonzalez says in the forward: "The dominant themes of these stories are universal to the childhood experience. Their characters learn the power of sharing, they learn to overcome grief, they learn the value of wit and cleverness." Following each story is a short description of its origin, as well as an explanation about how the story fits into the context of the culture it comes from. Also following each story is a glossary of the foreign language words used. Delacre's watercolor and gouache paintings are rich and hot, reflective of the stories' settings. This is a read-aloud delight.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-Six favorite Latin-American folktales, "cuentos favoritos," retold with skill and a light hand. Although variants may be found in other sources, it is a pleasure to have these appealing stories together in a form that will be enjoyed in the reading as well as in the telling. Small details, like the repetitious "Tipi-Tap-Tipi-Tap-Tipi-Tap" of the one-legged Medio-Pollito (Little Half-Chick) as he hops on his way to see the King, are a gift to storytellers. The simplicity and humor of lazy Juan Bobo who tires of carrying a pot that has three legs when he himself has only two, is perfect for very young listeners. In "Martina, the Little Cockroach," Ratoncito Prez (a mouse) survives an accident in a pot of onion soup. A foreword discusses the universality and the roots of these beloved tales; a brief note explains each story's background, theme, and connection to the author's childhood. In an artist's note, Delacre explains her choice of palette ("fresh and vivid") for her watercolor-and-gouache illustrations and the unifying detail of wrought-iron decorative borders. Her connection to the stories is expressed in touches like the inclusion of a recipe for arroz con pollo. Perhaps it is because these tales are so alive in the imagination and memory of both author and illustrator that they are rendered so lively and appealing in the retelling. An entertaining and carefully crafted resource.-Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Greenwich, CT