Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Once Upon A Time: Traditional Latin American Tales

Bilingual book of Traditional Latin American Tales that teach a whole heap of lessons!

Martinez, Rueben.
Once Upon a Time/Habia una vez.
March 2010.
HarperCollins Publishers.
Review copy provided courtesy of publisher.

Within the pages of Once Upon a Time/Habia una vez, a bilingual book, readers can delight in the telling of seven traditional Latin American (originating in Cuba, Colombia, the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, northern Argentina, Andalusia, and Spain, as well as other areas in Latin America) tales:
  • The Wedding Rooster/El gallo de bodas
  • The Tlacuache and the Coyote/El tlacuache y el coyote
  • The Mother of the Jungle/La Madreselva
  • Marina the Cockroach and Perez the Mouse/La cucarachita Martina y el raton Perez
  • The Flower of Lirolay/La flor de lirolay
  • The King and the Riddle/El rey y la adivinanza
  • Pedro Urdemales and the Giant/Pedro Urdemales y el gigante
"The Wedding Rooster" answers the question of how the rooster would be able to attend his uncle's wedding. "The Tlacuache and the Coyote" tells the story of the coyote and his reasons for howling at a full moon. "The Mother of the Jungle" reminds us of the importance of taking care of Nature and learning to live in harmony with her (Martinez, 38). "Marina the Cockroach and Perez the Mouse" was probably my least favorite of the tales, as there wasn't a strong "story" that had a great deal of meaning (in my eyes, at least). "The Flower of Lirolay" proves worthy, leaving children with an important thought, have many (valuable) possessions doesn't make you an important person, as they say beauty is more than skin deep! "The King and the Riddle" insinuates the important role that riddles play in Latin American culture - and this tale is full of them! "Pedro Urdemales and the Giant" tells the story of a trickster, who does everything in his power to win a bet, even if he is cheating in the process. This would be an important tale to share with youngsters who are sneaky in the process of always trying to win.

This bilingual book is full of information relevant to Latin American culture. I don't typically see children picking this book up willingly, though, as it lacks illustrations that would likely engage them in the tales being told. If I were to use these tales with a group of preschoolers (or early elementary children), I'd likely need to create illustrations and/or felt board activities to coincide to keep their attention. However, that being said, the tales within are wonderful and there is much to be learned from each and every one of them!

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to Amazon.com. I am an Amazon Affiliate, so any purchases you make after clicking these images will result in my receiving a small percentage of the sale price!