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LITTLE BOOK OF LATIN AMERICAN FOLKTALES by Carmen Diana Dearden

LITTLE BOOK OF LATIN AMERICAN FOLKTALES

By Carmen Diana Dearden (Editor) , Susana Wald (Translator) , Beatriz Zeller (Translator)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-88899-543-1
Publisher: Groundwood

Translated from the Spanish Libro de oro de los abuelos, this marvelous collection, first published in Venezuela, contains ten tales gathered from the work of various Latin American authors and folklorists. Blending motifs and plotlines from different sources, chiefly European, with settings and attitudes more typical of the tropical Americas, the tales are both familiar and strange. In “Ocelot, Jaguar and Lion,” for example, an unloving stepmother insists that her husband take his children into the forest to lose them, á la Hansel and Gretel. But when they push the witch who wants to cook them into her own oven, they use her ashes to form three magic dogs, and the tale enters its second phase with echoes of both Perseus and Andromeda and Hercules and the Hydra. Cinderella motifs likewise abound, along with the tradition of the foolish or underestimated youngest child. What sets these versions apart from most familiar American retellings is not simply the detail of the settings—yucca plants, chitlings—but also the more European (and more authentic) fairy-tale worldview, with its casual cruelty, its black-and-white approach to evil, and its rather tribal idea of who deserves to be treated as a human being. The full-color, full-page illustrations are necessarily small (the book itself measures only 6 x 4.5 inches), but they are also moody, exultant, even tender, as the story demands. Beautifully produced and appropriate for all children’s folktales collections, not just those serving Latino populations, this complements Olga Loya’s earlier bilingual Momentos Mágicos/Magic Moments (1997), a likewise wonderful assemblage of 15 stories from similar sources. (Folktale. All ages)