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Sunday, January 20, 2019

the Dragon Slayer: Folktales from Latin America, by Jaime Hernandez. TOON Books, Publishers Group Canada. 2018. $14.95 ages 6 and up

"But the king was still not convinced.
Perhaps if I send the prince away, he wont' have to marry a kitchen maid.
In the morning, the girl could not
find the prince. She asked the king
where he was.
I sent him off to war. He must 
serve and protect his kingdom.
But the prince is not trained for battle. He is sure to die. How can I help?"

This is a fantastic read! Two of the three Latin American tales have a strong woman at the heart, and the third speaks to the power of intelligence and resourcefulness. In her Imagination and Tradition essay that introduces the tales, F. Isabel Campoy explains:

"As the stories grew and changed with every telling, the anecdotal became universal. Folktales often contain moral lessons; instead of telling us how to behave, they show us the implications of right and wrong behaviors to help us develop our social and emotional intelligence. They teach us how to be better human beings." 

For his first book for children, this talented and honored comic book creator immersed himself in folktales. Choosing three of his favorites and writing them from his own perspective, he has created a lively collection for young readers. A young and generous kitchen maid, in love with the prince, proves her mettle when slaying a dragon, stealing a gold ring, and saving the prince from certain death. A beautiful young woman marries the mouse she loves dearly only to have him fall into the soup; this time it is Dona Pepa to the rescue. Finally, three sons marry three daughters, and are tasked with the same jobs in preparation for the year's production of corn. The youngest proves the most ingenious and productive of the three, and reaps his rewards while also providing for the family.

I like that the book ends with a clear history for each of the tales told, a comprehensive bibliography, and a list of online resources for further study. The graphic panels are accessible and most enjoyable for young readers.

Terrific storytelling, and energetic artwork assure that kids are going to love it!                                                                                                             

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