Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Review - Cuentos que Contaban Nuestras Abuelas

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!


Anonymous said...

I love the review. Hope I can purchase it in Seattle. There are many cuentos I forgot. Note: The 'colorin colorado este cuento se a acabado' phrase, dates back to the sunday cuentos on TV by Cachirulo. At the end of the show, they'll say the phrase. The colorin colorado refers to a hores named colorin. Raul Sanchez, Seattle

Anonymous said...

Good to know about the Sunday cuentos on TV. My Papa, mi abuelito used to say it all the time in the sixties when he told me cuentitos. You can purchase the book online at or if you can't find it in Seattle. I think you can purchase it from as well or directly from the publisher.


Gina Ruiz

msedano said...

americo paredes' collection have numerous stories ending with "colorin...".