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The Colorful World of Latino Folktales



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El Cucuy!

Hayes, Joe.  2001.  El Cucuy!  El Paso: Cinco Puntos Press.


Summary:  A retelling of the story of two sisters who do not obey their father and are carried off into the mountains by El Cucuy (Verso 2001).
 
Type:  beast - because it has a "giant" beast
 
Characters:   The main characters are three sisters, papa, el cucuy, and a boy.  These characters are two-three dimensional, well-rounded, and almost realistic.  They have depth that gives the illustrations that almost realistic look. 
 
Setting:  There is no specific time and place mentioned in this story, but because of the "hispanic" looking houses, mountains in the background, and the colors, red, green, and white, the reader can tell it is set in Mexico.  It does tell us "in many mountain villages (Hayes 4), so this text, along with the pictures of mountains, we know it takes place in a village next to the mountains.  The only reference to time is on the last page it says "even today if you go to that town" and the author says "those are the great-great grandchildren of two girls who were carried away by el Cucuy once a long, long time ago" (Hayes 31).
 
Plot:  Even though this story is about the bogeyman, it had a feel in the beginning of Cinderella.  The father was raising the children, and the two older girls always made the younger girl work harder.  A father of three calls el cucuy (the bogeyman) to come get his two older daughters because they are being mean to their younger sister.  El Cucuy comes at night to take the girls away to his cave in the mountains.  The father searches day and night for his daughters and finally finds them as they come down the mountain after being rescued by a boy.  They begged their father to not call el cucuy ever again and he did not have to because they were very well behaved from that time on.
 
Theme:   Be nice or else...

Rating: 4 out of 5
I enjoyed this version of the "bogeyman" from the Mexican culture.  It was a little harsh on children, but it had a happy ending.  The colors really enhanced the text.  It had some bright colors, surrounded by dark colors that made it ominous. 





Additional Feature:

Here are some quotes from my students:
 
"I used to be scared of el cucuy when I was little.  This story brought back memories, that's why I like it."
"The pictures are cool"
"I think it would help me think"
"I like it because it is scary and true!"
"Great setting.  I like the images and the colors"
"It has a good lesson"
"Great legend"
"I liked it because my parents use to say it"
"Spooky"
"I like it because it has adventure and good illustrations"
"It teaches kids to be good"
"This is my favorite"

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