Books by Gloria Calderón

ZIPITIO by Jorge Argueta
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2003

Argueta offers a bit of folklore from Central America that isn't going to go over too well in this culture. A small, ugly gnome with long nails and backward feet, Zipitio lurks along the riverbank, systematically falling in love with every local girl when she comes of age, pursuing her with flowers and declarations of devotion. Oddly dismissing him as just a harmless nuisance, young Rufina's mother explains that a trick is required to divert his attentions—and so, when at last it's Rufina's turn, she overcomes her fear and sends him off with a basket to catch an ocean wave. Calderón creates a magical landscape in which faces peer from trees and stones; the awkward-looking Zipitio fits right in, but so does Rufina and her mother, with their smooth dark skin and colorfully embroidered clothing. Readers sensitive to the sexual nuances here may prefer Julia Alvarez's The Secret Footprints (2000), which features backwards-footed creatures in a more innocently amusing situation. (Picture book/folktale. 7-9)Read full book review >
THE GREAT CANOE by María Elena Maggi
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

The traditional tale of the Great Flood gets a New World setting in this interesting retelling. When Kaputano told the Kariña people they must prepare for a great rain that would flood the earth, only four couples believed him. Together, they set out to hew a canoe from a huge tree, scraping and burning out the trunk. After collecting two of each animal and seeds from each plant, they boarded the vessel. The rains came, the water in the river rose, the treetops slowly disappeared, and the world was drowned in water. When it receded, the land was a barren place where no human could live, so Kaputano created the world anew for his people. The author and illustrator traveled to the Kariña people to do their research for this native tale, and their careful research shows. Amazingly detailed scratchboard illustrations dominate the pages, with the text relegated to small light-colored spaces on the edges. In a reversal of roles, the original story was rewritten for length after the illustrations were completed. Calderón's (Buzz, Buzz, Buzz!, p. 806, etc.) native plants and animals of the Caribbean region come to life—from the sloths hanging in the trees and the ants crawling on deck, to the bright blue butterfly that seems to hover on the surface of the page, poised to fly away. The Kariña people are portrayed in breechcloths, short skirts, and bare chests; the final illustration is especially vibrant, showing the native costumes as the people dance and sing. Although universally known in its Biblical telling, this version proves the universality of culture and story. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
BUZZ, BUZZ, BUZZ by Verónica Uribe
ANIMALS
Released: June 1, 2001

Set in the Venezuelan jungle, this translation of El Mosquito Zumbador by Chilean writer and publisher Uribe presents a natural solution to a natural problem: how to achieve a good night's pleasant sleep on a moonlit, quiet night when under attack by a buzzing mosquito. The mosquito's path is highlighted in a neon-green line cutting through thickets of color and shape in Colombian illustrator Calderón's woodcut-like pictures and in black-and-white typography extending the buzzes of the text elsewhere on the page. Distressed, Juliana and Andrés jump from bed to escape the bite, then jump back, but the wily bug finds a hole. Unable to smash the hungry insect with a shoe, the children flee from house to jungle, where they plead for help from heavily sleeping monkey, snoozing coral snake, snoring alligator—all familiar toys in their bedroom. The youngsters get no relief until they appeal to yellow owl, mercifully awake, who flies them home, the mosquito pursuing. Yellow owl delivers them to their open window . . . where nice frog sitting on the sill solves the problem in time-honored food-chain fashion. An active story for bedtime when the kids are not quite ready to settle down and great for story times with a theme of life in other climes. Mosquito misery as multicultural means. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >