JUAN BOBO GOES TO WORK by Marisa Montes

JUAN BOBO GOES TO WORK

by & illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 9
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KIRKUS REVIEW

The Puerto Rican folk character Juan Bobo, a.k.a. “Simple John,” who just can’t get anything right, trips over a silver lining supplied by Montes (Something’s Wicked in These Woods, p. 1287) and set in tropically festive artwork by the illustrator of Captain Bob Sets Sail (p. 640). Shooed out the door to find work and told not to put his wages in his pocket, but to carry them in his hand, Juan Bobo gets a job shelling beans. Though he manages to get even that job wrong, he is paid and promptly shoves the money into his pocket, where it falls through the holes as he walks home. The next day his mother gives him a sack in which to put his payment, but this time his reward is a bucket of milk. He does as commanded, with predictable results. Carry it home on your head next time, she tells him, not knowing his payment for sweeping the grocer’s floor will be cheese; it melts in the sun. Tie it up with string next time, she says, but the payment is a ham that Juan Bobo drags homeward, only to have it eaten by the neighborhood cats and dogs. This is Juan Bobo’s lot, but Montes is not happy with it; the fool can’t simply be a well-meaning comic figure in the tradition of Epaminondas—he ultimately has to deliver. So she adds a Goose Girl touch and works it so that Juan Bobo saves the life of a rich man’s daughter and thus food is thereafter no problem. Heroism doesn’t sit comfortably on Juan Bobo’s shoulders. His gift is that he makes us laugh, and that is more than enough. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 2000
ISBN: 0-688-16233-9
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2000




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