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World Folktales

Central/South America - Cuban

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Central/South America – Cuban

 

Gonzalez, Lucia M. 1994. The bossy gallito: A traditional Cuban folktale. Illustrated by Lulu Delacre. New York: Scholastic Inc.

 

Rating: ♥♥♥♥ (out of ♥♥♥♥♥). (Picture taken from Amazon.com).

 

Summary: “In this cumulative folktale from Cuba, the sun sets off a chain of events which results in the cleaning of a rooster’s beak in time for his uncle’s wedding” (Gonzalez, CIP page). The tale is written in both English and Spanish. The English text weaves in many Spanish words and phrases.

 

Type: cumulative tale

 

Characters: The characters have no depth. The rooster is impulsive, bossy, and demanding. When he does not get his way, he asks someone more powerful (the sun) to intervene. The other anthropomorphic characters do not have much personality. Readers only know that the characters do not like being bossed around and that they will act when threatened by someone more powerful.

 

Setting: From the illustrations, the audience learns that the setting is a Hispanic, tropical, urban area.  However, the exact setting is not mentioned in the text. From the author’s notes, readers learn that the Cuban story is set in Little Havana, a Cuban neighborhood in Miami, Florida. Gonzalez lets readers know that the story happened a long time ago when she writes, “There was once” (unpaged).

 

Plot:  I have read similar plots in other cumulative tales. An animal (or person) asks others for assistance. The others refuse until they are persuaded, in this case by a more powerful entity.  Finally, everyone cooperates, leading to a happy ending. In her notes, Gonzalez writes, “There are many other versions of this popular story in various cultures throughout the world. One version is ‘The Old Woman and the Pig.’Another is the traditional Passover song, 'Had Gadya'..."(unpaged, Gonzalez).

 

Themes: One theme is that others do not like to be bossed around, or, as some say, “You catch more flies with honey.”  A second theme is that “who you know” can help in life. A final theme is that living beings benefit from cooperation.

 

Rating Considerations: The illustrations are charming. The inter-lingual mix of English and Spanish works well. The author includes a glossary at the end, but one can interpret most Spanish words from the illustrations and the context. However, by the end of the text, I was bored with the repetition.

 

Illustrations: Delacre uses watercolor, colored pencils, and gouache to obtain her Latin American flavor (CIP page, Gonzalez). The resulting paintings are attractive, colorful, and playful. On the right side, one sees oval illustrations depicting the text. On the left, one views sumptuous borders that provide an inside glimpse of the uncle's wedding preparations. Some of the illustrations are humorous, such as the birds playing dominoes and the wedding between different bird species.