cover image Pedro and the Padre

Pedro and the Padre

Verna Aardema. Dial Books, $12.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-0522-7

Once again, Aardema ( Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears ) proves what an effective--and valuable--genre the folktale is. Young readers will find the hero of this story so engaging and entertaining that they won't even realize he is teaching them an important lesson. Pedro is a Mexican boy who has two major faults: he is lazy, and he has no trouble telling a lie to get himself out of a sticky situation. After he falls asleep one too many times while working on his father's farm, Pedro is sent out into the world to make a living, then taken in by a kind padre who offers shelter and food in return for chores. But Pedro cannot camouflage his flaws. Before long the boy absconds with his employer's burro and sombrero. The scheming lad has several humorous encounters with unwary travelers, whom he manages to swindle. But eventually Pedro learns that he must mend his ways, and, contrite, returns home to the padre. Henstra contributes atmospheric ink-and-watercolor paintings that portray the lifestyle, traditional dress and countryside of Mexico--and successfully catch the gleam in Pedro's eye. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)