Books at Bedtime: A Trickster Tale or Two

Love and Roast Chicken, retold and illustrated by Barbara KnutsonTrickster tales are to be found in the repertoire of traditional stories from all over the world and are of universal appeal. Linking in with our current focus on the US’s Hispanic Heritage Month, here are two that are sure to have young listeners enthralled:

Love and Roast Chicken
(Carolrhoda Books, 2004), retold and illustrated by Barbara Knutson, is the story of how Cuy the guinea pig saves himself and tricks Tio Antonio the fox not once but the archetypal three times. Children will laugh with glee at the narrative and will love the energetic woodcut-and-watercolor illustrations. Set in the Andes, the well-written story effortlessly interjects Spanish and Quechuan phrases into the English text – for which there’s a glossary at the end, as well as some background information. You can read about Barbara’s two years in Peru here, including a great suggestion to carry a sketch pad with you when you go travelling.

Just a Minute by Yuyi MoralesYuyi Morales’ original story Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book (Chronicle Books, 2003) is another joy. Grandma Beetle is far too busy to go away with Señor Calavera when he comes knocking. Death in the form of the humorously depicted skeleton is thus forced to wait, while she prepares one, two, three etc things for the birthday celebration at the end: and eventually he gives up altogether and leaves, promising to return for next year’s party… Yuyi’s humorous artwork and snappy dialogue mean that children will not be scared by the story – they are much more likely to be too busy cheering Grandma Beetle on. Indeed, Bever’s Book Blog makes the point that many young listeners will probably not even realise the book is about death until it is pointed out to them. Open Wide, Look Inside has this podcast, recommending the book for cross-curricular and multicultural teaching. Read our interview with Yuyi, where she talks about the book – including the many children she has met “who think that Señor Calavera, the skeleton in my book Just a Minute is a cute guy, and that I should marry him.”! And don’t miss Yuyi’s delightful Personal View, My Childhood Readings: A Short List to Grow On, currently featured on the website as part of our Hispanic Heritage Month celebration.

For more Latin American trickster tales, Latina storyteller Olga Loya has recorded four stories, told in both Spanish and English, for her audiobook entitled Tío Conejo. As well as the one about Uncle Rabbit, there are a monkey, an opossum and a dog.

Do let us know if you have enjoyed these or any other trickster tales…

7 Responses to “Books at Bedtime: A Trickster Tale or Two”

  1. pancho Says:

    I always remember with affection the trickster tales I was taught in Bolivia, the cleverness of Cumpa Atoj, compadre fox. I never remembered enough of it to teach my kids but they do remember telling them some other stories. The wonderful moment of kids and parents. What will happen as books seem to be disappearing from our world? There are some stories, although I am sorry to say, more commonplace and commercial in a site I built: .

  2. Marjorie Says:

    Yes, it would be dreadful if books disappeared to be replaces by some electronic format – definitely not the thing of special childhood memories!

    And thank you for sharing your website with us – I see that you set it up to help keep Spanish going for families who have moved to the US: a very useful respource – and I spotted a couple of songs I might try out on my own classes of very English Spanish-learners!

  3. Jaun Millalonco Says:

    My first visit here, found the blog accidentally really, and I just wanted to say I’ve enjoyed my visit and had some good reads while here :)

  4. Marjorie Says:

    Jaun, we’re delighted you found us and hope you’ll be back again. We do so love visitors leaving comments – thank you.