Trickster Tales from Latin America

Every culture has its own version of the trickster tale: the wily rabbit who manages to outwit the bear and fox or the fool who isn't as foolish as people assume. For Hispanic Heritage Month, consider sharing some of these wonderful new and old trickster tales from Latin America with the young people in your life.

Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale, Carmen Agra Deedy
In this Cuban version of a popular folktale, it is time for lovely Martina the cockroach to give her leg in marriage. Many animals come forth to court her, but do they really have her best interests at heart? Martina’s wise grandmother has given her an idea. She “accidentally” spills a little coffee on each suitor’s shoe to see how he reacts when angry.

Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book and Just in Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book, Yuyi Morales
When Senior Calavera comes to call at Grandma Beetle's house, she puts him off with "just a minute" while she counts down the preparations for a fiesta with her grandchildren. In the follow-up book, Senior Calavera decides to give Grandma Beetle a birthday gift for each letter of the alphabet. Both award-winners boast colorful illustrations evocative of Mexican Day of Dead folk art. See also the author’s website for online and printable extension activities:

Moon Rope/Un Lazo a la Luna: A Peruvian Tale, Lois Ehlert
Fox wants to go to the moon. Mole prefers to keep all four feet on the ground- preferably underground in his tunnel. But when Mole is convinced that the moon is full of succulent worms, he agrees to attempt the journey. This book tells the classic Peruvian folktale in both English and Spanish with Ehlert’s popular collage-style illustrations.

Juan Bobo Goes to Work: A Puerto Rican Folktale, Marisa Montes
Juan Bobo and the Pig: A Puerto Rican Folktale, Felix Pitre
Juan Bobo: Four Folktales from Puerto Rico, Carmen T. Bernier-Grand

There are many Puerto Rican folktales about the boy Juan Bobo. Juan Bobo tries to do everything his mother asks him to do, but sometimes he follows her advice a little too literally. In the tradition of the wise fool, Juan Bobo’s silly mistakes often lead to chaos but sometimes manage to teach everyone a lesson in the process.

--Suzanne Summers LaPierre, City of Fairfax Regional Library

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