El Monumento Encantado
Gr 2-4-This collection of four short stories draws its wacky humor from some serious wordplay. Because of the emphasis on verbal humor, it is best suited for advanced readers or for classroom use. The first story, from which the collection takes its name, is about a statue in a public park that draws a great deal of funny attention from the town fathers when it appears in unconventional garb. Of the four stories in this collection, this one calls for the most advanced reading level. Much of the humor centers around wordplay on encantado (enchanted, or charmed). In ""Villa Mongopirulo,"" the author presents a whimsical story about a town that changes names on a daily basis and on a weekly rotation. The people take their cues for how to behave from the name du jour. Their odd but orderly existence falls apart when somebody decides to become creative with the names, and people no longer know how to behave. All sorts of inspired mayhem follows. In ""La avenida de los cisnes"" (""The Avenue of the Swans""), the author describes a town in which people take matters into their own hands to solve a major problem in a nontraditional way. The final story, ""Sobre nombres"" (""On Names""), uses humor to create wordplay out of peoples' names. Townspeople who hate their names because of the taunts they elicit are made to see that almost any name can be abused and misused. It is only at the end of the book that readers realize that the stories are connected and that everything has happened in the same crazy town. Amusing black-and-white drawings featuring comical figures adorn almost every page. Some Argentine usages, especially in the first story, may be difficult for some readers but do not detract from the overall quality of the text. Recommended for larger collections in bookstores and libraries. M.O.B.