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The Colorful World of Latino Folktales



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Cuckoo

Ehlert, Lois.  1997.  Cuckoo: Cucu.  New York: Harcourt Brace & Company.


Summary:  A traditional Mayan tale which reveals how the cuckoo lost her beautiful feathers (Verso 1997).
 
Type: Beast - because the animals are talking like humans.
 
Characters: The main character is Cuckoo the bird and Mole.  These character are very flat, but colorful.  The illustrator used Mexican crafts and folk art, cut-paper fiesta banners, tin work, textiles, and wooden toys and sculptures.  They mixed very bright, opposite colors on each page that can make your eyes "crazy"!  Cuckoo had some personality, but overall, very bland.
 
Setting:  The only hint of the setting is when the text talks about the fields and the woods.  Not once does it talk about an actual place or time.
 
Plot:  In this story, Cuckoo is a very beautiful parrot, but she knows it.  She sings and sings until the other animals can't stand it.  One evening, she sees a fire in the field while the animals are sleeping.  She flys all night saving the beans that have been planted for all the animals food.  By daylight, the other animals see that her beautiful feathers are scorched and she worked to save their food.  All the animals were very happy with Cuckoo and agreed that "You can't tell much about a bird by looking at its feathers" (Ehlert, last page).
 
Theme:  Cannot judge a book by its cover.
 

Rating: 2 out of 5
Other than the bright, vibrant colors, this folktale had nothing to do with the Latino culture.  It was boring to read and I could tell my student's did not care for it either.  Maybe if I read it to Kindergartners, they might like it. 





Additional Feature:

Cuckoo/Cuc£: A Mexican Folktale/Un cuento folkl¢rico mexicano

Here are some quotes from my students:
 
"I did not like it because it was dumb, but it was colorful"
"I didn't understand it"
"It has lots of colors, but I did not get it"
"It was a little boring, but OK"
"It needs to be more entertaining"
"Some kids in school do the same thing as Cuckoo.  I mostly liked the colors and pictures"
 

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