Once Upon a Time/Habia una vez: Traditional Latin American Tales/Cuentos tradicionales latinoamericanos
Rueben Martinez, , trans. from the Spanish by David Unger, illus. by Raúl Colón. . HarperCollins/Rayo, $19.99 (95pp) ISBN 978-0-06-146895-7
This collection of seven Latin American folktales features side-by-side English and Spanish text and descriptions of the origins and significance of each tale. In modernized, plainspoken language, the selections range from a lighthearted courtship tale about a beautiful cockroach (deciding against lipstick, she says, “Red is not a good color for me”) to a trickster story featuring a gullible coyote. In the potentially unsettling “The Flower of Lirolay,” two princes bury their third sibling alive, but when they dig him up, he's “miraculously” still breathing. A mix of spot art, borders, and full-page scenes, Colón's illustrations, rendered in watercolor and colored pencil on scratched paper, are alternately playful and stately, and make the stories spring off the page. Ages 5–10.
Reviewed on: 03/15/2010