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World Folktales

Central/South America - Peruvian

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Central/South America – Peruvian and Bolivian

 

Knutson, Barbara. 2004. Love and roast chicken: A trickster tale from the Andes Mountains. Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda Books, Inc.

 

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

 

Summary: “In this folktale from the Andes, a clever guinea pig repeatedly outsmarts the

fox who wants to eat him for dinner” (Knutson, CIP page).

 

Type: This is a beast tale of the trickster variety.

 

Characters: The characters are one-dimensional. Cuy, the guinea pig, is clever and cunning and is driven by his big appetite. Tio Antonio, the fox, is gullible, greedy, and not so bright. The farmer can be fooled but catches on easily, and he has a wonderful sense of humor. The daughter is just a “cardboard” figure.

 

Setting: Knutson provides the setting in her opening sentence: “One day in the high Andes Mountains” (unpaged).  Readers assume the story took place long ago because of the past tense and the exotic setting. In her Author’s Note, Knutson writes that she lived in Peru for two years and that she heard and read this tale from Peruvian and Bolivian sources (unpaged).

 

Plot: This is a classic trickster plot with the guinea pig fooling the fox three times. However, there is a twist. The guinea pig dresses up as a person and also fools the farmer for a short while. Parts of this story remind me of other folktales. When Cuy tricks the fox into holding up a boulder, I thought of a similar scene in Borreguita and the Coyote by Ardema.  Later, Cuy gets stuck to a “girl” clay scarecrow covered with sticky sap, which mirrors the plot in Bruh Rabbit and the Tar Baby Girl by Hamilton.  In the Author’s Note, Knutson writes that she heard several versions of the story and that she “combined and rearranged (her) favorite versions” (unpaged).

 

Themes: The main theme is that a smaller being can use cleverness to outwit larger beings. A secondary theme is that a greedy person will eventually get his/her comeuppance

 

Rating Considerations: Two main scenes seem unoriginal, as discussed in the plot section above. The illustrations are appealing.  The text flows well with crisp dialogue, humor, and Spanish words intermingled with the English.

 

Illustrations: “Knutson’s boldly outlined, vibrant wood-cut-and-watercolor artwork captures the mischievous nature of the guinea pig. Observant children will delight in the visual and cultural details and in the energy of these illustrations” (Bock, SLJ, 2004). Three illustration highlights are Knutson’s palate (earth colors accented by purple skies), her strong black lines, and her varying perspectives.  The most glorious illustration is a large Cuy celebrating his good luck beneath a Van Gogh sky.