Zipitio

Overview


Zipitio is older than the rocks, even older than the river, but he doesn’t seem old. He is only as big as a child. He wears a tall black hat and has a round shiny stomach. His feet point backwards and his toes sport long pointy nails, and when you look at him you don’t know if he is coming or going. But there is no real need to be afraid of him. He hides down by the river. The only time you will see him is when he falls in love.

Rufina Pérez is a young Nahua girl of the Pipil ...

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Overview


Zipitio is older than the rocks, even older than the river, but he doesn’t seem old. He is only as big as a child. He wears a tall black hat and has a round shiny stomach. His feet point backwards and his toes sport long pointy nails, and when you look at him you don’t know if he is coming or going. But there is no real need to be afraid of him. He hides down by the river. The only time you will see him is when he falls in love.

Rufina Pérez is a young Nahua girl of the Pipil people in Salvador. Her mother wants her to be prepared in case Zipitio appears to her down by the river, now that she is becoming so pretty and grown-up.

Sure enough, the next time Rufina goes down to the river, there he is. Rufina runs away and leaves Zipitio crying of a broken heart. But Rufina’s mother is wise. She knows that Zipitio has fallen in love with every young woman in the village. She knows that there is nothing to fear.
Best of all, she knows how to help Rufina deal with Zipitio’s love.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Poetically written and boldly illustrated, this is a rather odd tale of a mythic creature who appears to young girls on the cusp of womanhood. Rufina, a pretty young Pipil/Nahua girl of El Salvador, is told by her mother that soon she will see the Zipitio down by the river. "The Zipitio wants to be the very first boyfriend of every girl." Rufina listens as her mother relates the story of a rich woman who once lived nearby. When the wealthy woman refused to tell robbers where her money was hidden, the robbers took her son to a witch who cast an evil spell, turning him into the Zipitio who now lives along the riverbanks. He is a strange, deformed creature, and when Rufina does see him she is frightened. In this retold tale, Rufina is able to convince the Zipitio to go to the sea and bring her back a wave. After that she never sees him again, but she knows that one-day she will have a daughter, and Rufina plans to tell her all about the Zipitio. 2003, Groundwood Books/Douglas & McIntyre, Ages 6 to 8.
— Carolyn Mott Ford
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-El Zipitio, a character from the Salvadoran Pipil/Nahua tradition, is an odd little fellow with a pot belly and feet that are on backward. He is a sad and lonely figure who only comes out at dawn when he can hide in the shadows-and who only comes out at all when he is in love. When Rufina P rez reaches puberty, her mother tells her that the Zipitio will soon appear to her. She explains that the creature means no harm, and that running away will only encourage his pursuit. Still, when the tiny man speaks to the girl, she flees. Comforting her daughter, Rufina's mother gives her a secret for handling the Zipitio. When next they meet, Rufina sends her adversary to perform an impossible task, and since he is unable to complete it, she never sees him again. The ending seems lacking in resolution and leaves readers sympathizing with the Zipitio. Nevertheless, the story is well told and is a solid example of a female right of passage. Enhanced with bright, full-page acrylic-on-canvas illustrations, this offering compares well with traditional tales such as Alejandro Cruz Martinez's The Woman Who Outshone the Sun (Children's Book Press, 1991), and original stories like Matthew Gollub's The Twenty-Five Mixtec Cats (Morrow, 1993). However, it is most strongly reminiscent of Wilhelm Hauff's Dwarf Long-Nose (Random, 1960; o.p.), which also includes a stolen child, a curse, and resulting physical changes. Read alongside any of these, Zipitio will create a storytime focused on Latin American folktales or cross-cultural motifs.-Ann Welton, Grant Elementary School, Tacoma, WA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Argueta offers a bit of folklore from Central America that isn't going to go over too well in this culture. A small, ugly gnome with long nails and backward feet, Zipitio lurks along the riverbank, systematically falling in love with every local girl when she comes of age, pursuing her with flowers and declarations of devotion. Oddly dismissing him as just a harmless nuisance, young Rufina's mother explains that a trick is required to divert his attentions-and so, when at last it's Rufina's turn, she overcomes her fear and sends him off with a basket to catch an ocean wave. Calder-n creates a magical landscape in which faces peer from trees and stones; the awkward-looking Zipitio fits right in, but so does Rufina and her mother, with their smooth dark skin and colorfully embroidered clothing. Readers sensitive to the sexual nuances here may prefer Julia Alvarez's The Secret Footprints (2000), which features backwards-footed creatures in a more innocently amusing situation. (Picture book/folktale. 7-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780888994875
  • Publisher: Groundwood Books
  • Publication date: 10/15/2003
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,418,294
  • Age range: 5 years
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

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