Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale

Carmen Agra Deedy, Author, Michael Austin, Illustrator , illus. by Michael Austin. Peachtree $16.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-56145-399-3

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.)

Reviewed on: 08/27/2007
Release date: 07/01/2007
Paperback - 28 pages - 978-1-56145-532-4
Hardcover - 1 pages - 978-1-56145-425-9
Hardcover - 28 pages - 978-1-56145-468-6
Compact Disc - 1 pages - 978-1-56145-467-9
Prebound-Sewn - 32 pages - 978-0-606-35654-1
Paperback - 1 pages - 978-1-56145-787-8
Prebound-Glued - 30 pages - 978-1-62765-441-8
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