F. Isabel Campoy and Alma Flor Ada, illustrated by Felipe Dávalos, Viví Escrivá, Susan Guevara and Leyla Torres,
Tales Our Abuelitas Told: A Hispanic Folktale Collection
There are a number of ways to begin (and to end) a story, as this collection of Hispanic folktales points out. One of them is: "En los tiempos de la abuela.../In Grandmother's time..."
The idea of tales told by our "abuelitas" (grandmothers) is delightful. It conveys images of family life, warmth, and (un)spoken life lessons. In a world filled with mystery and wonder, folktales help give continuity and stability to a culture: they are approachable and understandable, and their effect can be more profound and life-changing than that of intellectual narratives.
In Tales Our Abuelitas Told: A Hispanic Folktale Collection, Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy introduce us to characters who represent love, youth, death, wealth, fear, evil, and other universal facets of life. Respectful of the tales' sources of their origins and path of evolution their retellings are a treasure deeply rooted in collective memory and heritage. In some instances, they include notes about their own connections to the tales and deliver their own versions with the expected, but notheless awe-inspiring, sure-handedness seen in their previous work.
Most of the tales in this book from the well-known "Blancaflor" and "Martina Martínez and Pérez the Mouse" to more obscure ones such as "The Bird of One Thousand Colors" are believed to have originated in Spain, carrying both African and European influences. They then crossed the Atlantic to spread throughout the Spanish-speaking territories in the Americas, where they have become part of everyone's heritage. Ada and Campoy, who both have a yen for spinning a yarn, have, as Ada herself puts it, "taken a few liberties" here and there: something that has always been part of the fabric of folktales and the reason for different versions of the same story existing in different cultures.
This book excels on many levels, including visually: a star line-up of illustrators has poured a wealth of talent into it, to convey the vivid imagery and symbolism associated with each tale their magic shines right through it all: a handsome bird here, a rainbow-colored horse there; a fierce-looking goat, a majestic eagle... In this handsome volume you'll find all you need to make story-time unforgettable. Well, all but grandmother's lap.