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The Colorful World of Latino Folktales



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Mediopollito: Half-Chicken

Ada, Alma Flor.  1995.  Mediopollito: Half-Chicken.  New York: Doubleday.


Summary: A Mexican folktale which explains why the weather vane has a little rooster on one end that spins around to let us know which way the wind is blowing (Verso 1995).
 
Type:  Porquoi - because it explains why we have weather vanes.
 
Characters:  The main characters in this traditional, Latin American folktale are half-chicken (the special chicken), water, fire, and wind.  The characters are very flat and one-dimentional, but they all have a warm and caring personality. As Half-chicken hippety-hops to Mexico City, he encounters the other characters, water, fire, and wind and helps them out of predictaments.  These characters are important to Half-chicken because he needs their help in the end.
 
Setting:  The story is very clear about where it takes place.  It starts out on a Mexican ranch and then moves to the Great Plaza in Mexico City.  Even though it doesn't give a specific time, it does tell us at the very beginning that this story takes place "a long, long, time ago."
 
Plot:  The very beginning of this story the author asks us if we have ever seen a weather vane or if we know why it has a rooster on it.  A very special baby chicken was born that had only one wing, one eye, one leg, and only half as many feathers as the other chicks.  This chicken, named half-chicken, wanted to go to Mexico City because he was so unique.  On his way, he helped water, fire, and wind.  When he reached Mexico City, he was thrown in a pot of water to be eaten.  As he was sitting in the pot, the fire and water helped him escape because he helped them earlier.  Then the wind helped him by blowing him on top of a palace so he could see every thing.  From this, we have the weather vane that blows "whichever way their friend wind blows." 
 
Theme:  One theme that emerges out of this folktale is if you help people they will help you.

Rating: 3 out of 5
This story has a purpose - to tell us how the weather vane came about and how helping others can lead to friendships.  Even though this story was set in Mexico City, it doesn't really revolve around the Mexican culture.  One of the goals of the author was to lead children to a "further exploration of Mexico and its history" by portraying the dual-language format.  I'm not sure if this particular folktale would lead someone to explore Mexico further (Ada, last page).





Additional Feature:

halfchicken.jpg

Here are some quotes that my students had to say about this folktale:
 
"It was boring and had nothing to do with the Latino culture"
"The colors were only good for babies"
"Not a lot to do with culture"
"I liked it because it was different"

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