cover image Paco and the Witch

Paco and the Witch

Christy Hale, Felix Pitre. Dutton Books, $13.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-67501-3

Pitre and Hale, who retold a Puerto Rican tale in Juan Bobo and the Pig, here present another such story sprinkled with Spanish expressions. While hurrying to the bodega on an errand, Paco mistakenly accepts a cool drink from ``una viejita, a little old woman.'' The woman is in fact ``una bruja, a witch,'' and, like Rumplestiltskin's captive, Paco can break the evil spell only by guessing the witch's name. Luckily, a little crab provides the information-her tough-to-say moniker is Casi Lampu'a Lentemue. Pitre effortlessly integrates Spanish and English words, and if readers stumble, a glossary at the beginning defines 45 Spanish terms and supplies pronunciation guides as well. Hale exchanges her Juan Bobo linocut technique for painting, but her distinctive, sultry palette of purples, greens and golden browns is immediately recognizable. Bold compositions suggest the drama of the story, while caricaturish perspectives take some of the fear out of its menacing moments. Ages 4-8. (May)