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The Colorful World of Latino Folktales

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Juan Verdades: The Man Who Couldn't Tell a Lie

Hayes, Joe.  2001.  Juan Verdades: The man who couldn't tell a lie.  New York: Orchard Books.

Summary:  A wealthy rancher is so certain of the honesty of his foreman that he wagers his ranch (Verso 2001).
Type: Realistic - because this story could happen.
Characters: The main characters are Juan Verdades - the foreman of the ranch, Araceli - the daughter of Don Arturo, the wealthy rancher, and the future wife of Juan Verdades, and Don Ignacio, another wealthy rancher.  Even though these characters are 1-2 dimensional, they all have depth and personality.  Juan is a loving, caring individual with morals; Araceli turns out to be a warm and helpful woman, but she started out with the motive to help her dad, not fall in love with Juan; and the two wealthy ranchers are friendly and hard-working.
Setting:  The story never tells the reader when and where this story takes place, but it is obvious from the illustrations it is either somewhere in Mexico or very close by like New Mexico or somewhere in the Southwest. The time is not important in this story because it could happen any time, anywhere, to anybody.  The houses are adobe-like, and the charactes live on ranches.  There is one illustration with mountains that look like the "mesas" in New Mexico. 
Plot:  One of the wealthy ranchers is very proud of his foreman and says he cannot tell a lie.  The other rancher makes a bet with him that he can get the foreman to lie.  If he lies, the rancher gets the other's ranch in return.  Juan Verdades is tested by the rancher and his daughter and in the mean-time love is in the air - Juan and Araceli, the daughter, fall in love.  In the end, the rancher realizes he has a wonderful and trustworthy foreman and is happy that the ranch stays in the family and his daughter is happy.
Theme: One of the themes from this book is that honesty does pay off or goodness is always rewarded.
Rating: 5 out of 5
This story is so well written and illustrated, it is one of my favorites.  The illustrator creates realistic pictures of the characters and the background, yet gives a soft, chalky-type color that only enhances the soft, warm quality of the illustrations.  The illustrator also uses just a hint of white in each picture that makes the pictures that much more realistic and draws the readers attention to focus on the other colors.  The author uses shadows in some of the pictures to give them more depth and to create a life-like picture.

Additional Feature:
Juan Verdades : The Man Who Couldn't Tell A Lie (Juan Verdades)

Here are some quotes from my students:
"I like how it could really happen."
"It is sort of long and boring."
"He is a great illustrator."
"It has a lot of great detail."

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