As Hayes (El Cucuy!
, not reviewed, etc.) explains in his author's note, he has revised a variant of Aarne-Thompson's tale type 889, "The Faithful Servant," drawing on versions collected in Spain and New Mexico. Hayes makes the young woman a stronger character and adds other twists to this delightful tale, eloquently told, of two men who bet their ranches that the servant of one of them can be made to tell a lie. The reader is kept in suspense as to how the several strands of the narrative will come together: the magnificent prized apple tree, the love story of the beautiful Araceli and the servant Juan Valdez (nicknamed Verdades because he is so truthful), and the wager between the two wealthy ranchers. The final riddle, a Hayes invention, will appeal to young readers. This calls for careful listening; though the text is long, the telling is captivating. Fiedler's (My Lady King Hatshepsut
, 2001, etc.) rather somber paintings—one per double page, facing the text—in combination with Hayes's sprinkling of Spanish phrases, provide an authentic historical northern New Mexico setting that gives the story a strong sense of time and place, making this an interesting and unusual addition to folklore collections. (Picture book/folktale. 7-12)Read full book review >