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ZIPITIO by Jorge Argueta


by Jorge Argueta & edited by Gloria Calderón

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-88899-487-7
Publisher: Groundwood

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)