A trio of Latin American folktales are given a makeover in the children’s-book debut of one of the brothers behind famed graphic-novel series Love and Rockets.
In the three stories, a young girl proves her smarts and bravery, not to mention her skills as a dragon slayer; a woman named Martina Martínez marries a mouse, which leads to an unexpected tragedy; and a boy named Tup considered lazy by his family finds a way to feed them all. In his six-panel pages, Hernandez flexes his considerable storytelling skills, his deceptively simple art conveying all the detail, nuance, and expression of character each story needs. The protagonist of the first tale is unnamed, which becomes ironic given how much agency she employs to get to the future her selfless acts should earn her. In the second piece, an older woman turns out to be the hero by simply practicing common sense that everyone else has forgotten. And in the final story, it’s cleverness that saves the day. In addition to the tales themselves, the book opens with an on-point essay by author F. Isabel Campoy putting the mix of Spanish and Native American influences in context. It closes with brief histories and art influences for each story as well as English- and Spanish-language phrases to help readers start telling their own. María E. Santana’s simultaneously publishing Spanish-language translation is identical in look but far from dry, flawlessly employing its own language quirks.
Rousing tales, spirited artwork, and rich backmatter ensure that this slim graphic novel for kids becomes a rich resource for all caregivers, not just those of Latinx children. (bibliography) (Graphic folktales. 4-10)