"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."

Borges

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Cuentos que contaban nuestras abuelas (Tales Our Abuelitas Told)

Title: Cuentos que contaban nuestras abuelas (Tales Our Abuelitas Told):
Cuentos populares Hispánicos
Author: Alma Flor Ada, F. Isabel Campoy
Illustrators: Felipe Davalos, Susan Guevara, Leyla Torres, Vivi Escriva
Publisher: Atheneum
ISBN: 1416919058



This delightful and fun collection of Hispanic fairytales is just wonderful. The introduction explains how tales change over time. The authors grew up hearing these tales as did I. It was fun to see the different versions of stories I grew up hearing. Each re-telling gives a description of the origin of the story. I read the Spanish version and loved it and I look forward to checking out the English version of this.




One of the things I loved was the list of tradition story starters and enders, the Spanish equivalents of “Once Upon a Time” and “They Lived Happily Ever After”. I always loved those when I was growing up. My favorite beginning was “En la tierra del olvido donde de nada nadie se acuerda, habia...” which means In the land of forgetting, where of nothing or no one remembers, there was…. My favorite ending to a tale was “Y colorin colorado, este cuento acabado” which really makes no sense, it’s a little rhyme that say something like and (I have no idea what colorin means) red, this tale has ended. Something like that, it really doesn’t translate but it always sounded funny when I was little and my grandfather said it, then clapped his hands once loudly, but enough of my memories.




The book is great. It includes my personal favorite, Blanca Flor as well as many others. The illustrations are fantastic, which is no surprise since the book is illustrated by four very well known Latino illustrators. My favorite illustration is on page 64. It is the most amazing and dreamy illustration of an indigenous boy grasping the feather of the pajaro de fuego (firebird) with one hand and the multi-colored mane of his horse with the other. The artwork is so amazing and ethereal that it just feels like you’re walking into another world.

I thought the book did best as a read aloud book. I loved all the stories and they were just so much better told out loud to a group of rapt little faces. My granddaughter loves the story of Catalina, La Zorra or Catalina the Fox. It makes her laugh out loud every time I read it. Another favorite of hers is El Castillo de Chuchurumbe which is a poem something like The House that Jack Built. I highly recommend this book either in English or in Spanish. I hope that the authors do a second volume of these!

2 comments:

Alma Flor said...

Thanks so much for your generous review of our book Tales Our Abuelitas Told. I'm delighted Blancaflor is also one of your favorites. We would very much love to do another volume as this. Until then you may want to check other folktales retold by me - The rooster who went to his uncle's wedding, Three Golden Oranges and The Lizard and the Sun. Some readers like the "original folktale qualities" of The Gold Coin, The Malachite Palace and Jordi's Star. I'd love to thank you for your review with an autographed copy of a book. Please send me your mailing address at www.almaflorada.com All best wishes to all who visit this site

Alma Flor said...

Thanks so much for your generous review of Tales Our Abuelitas Told. I'm delighted to know Blancaflor is also one of your favorites. Thanks for suggesting we publish a similar volume. we would live to do so. Meanwhile you may enjoy other retelling of folktales I've done: Three Golden Oranges. The rooster who went to his uncle's wedding. Half-chicken. The Lizard and the Sun. Some readers enjoy the folktale quality of some original stories The Gold Coin. The Malachite Palace. Jordi's Star. I'd love to express my thanks sending you an autographed copy of one of my books if you send me your postal address at: www.almaflorada.com
All best wishes to all who read this blog.