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The Colorful World of Latino Folktales

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The Harvest Birds

Lopez de Mariscal, Blanca.  1995.  The Harvest Birds.  San Francisco, CA: Children's Book Press.

Summary:  A young man realizes his dream by listening to the voice of nature (Verso 1995).
Type: Beast and Realistic - Beast because the birds talk like humans and realistic because the story could have happened anytime, anywhere, except for the birds talking.
Characters: The main character Juan is hardworking, determined, and warm-hearted.  Grandpa Chon, who helps Juan and gives him some land, is very caring and trustworthy.  The personalities of these two characters overshadow the jealosy and rudeness of the other villagers.
Setting: The story does not mention a time or place, just a little village with lots of land to tend crops.  The illustrations show mountains in the background, lush fields, and hardworking farmers that illustrate the Indian culture in Mexico.
Plot: Juan desperately wants to have his own land.  He asks people to help him, but they just laugh at him and tell him he could never grow anything.  Grandpa Chon helps him out by giving him a small piece of land and Juan works very hard to grow things.  From the help of his birds and his good judgement, he is able to grow some of the best crops.
Theme: Family and friends are more important than material things.
Rating: 5 out of 5
I thoroughly enjoyed this folktale.  The illustrations were beautiful, rich in color, and enhanced the text.  This story is short and sweet, with a great moral at the end.

Additional Feature:
The Harvest Birds/ Los pajaros de la cosecha

Here are some quotes from my students:
"I really liked the colorful pictures."
"The illustrations were very real and detailed."
"I liked the way Juan did not give up even when people made fun of him."
"I'm glad his crop grew."
"This story is very nice."

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