Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Martina Josefina Catalina Cucaracha

Martina the Beautiful Cockroach A Cuban Folktale retold by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrated by
Michael Austin and winner of the
Pura Belpré Honor Award, is the subject of today's post.

Beautiful Martina Josefina, Catalina Cucaracha has her own website. Don't you love that name? I could say it over and over, Martina, Josefina, Catalina, Cucaracha beautiful muchacha. Ah, the Spanish language. And Cubans speak Spanish fast!

Camen Agra Deedy says
in a Peachtree Press interview, "I've always loved the traditional version of this story. La Cucarachita Martina, or, Martina the Little Cockroach, is the Cuban folk tale, which tells of a tiny cockroach who goes a-courting—or, more accurately—sits on her balcony to be a-courted. As enacted by my marvelous storytelling mother, Martina was a true coquette, who drew many suitors before finding her perfect match. I loved the story so much that as soon as it ended, I was already begging, "Otra vez!" Again!" You can find the rest of the interview here.

Deedy blends Spanish words into the English text for both emphasis Caramba! and cultural identification, Abuela, mantilla, mi amor. I'm familiar with Daniel Moreton's La Cucaracha Martina, little buggy-eyed cockroach. It's sweet and humorous, but this version has a twist. Abuela tells Martina, "The Coffee Test never fails." Reluctantly at first, Martina pours coffee on her suitors shoes to find out their reactions. In the end she falls in love with a humble little mouse who has a Cuban grandmother and coffee test too. Michael Austin's illustrations compliment the humor in this tale. They're highly stylized. This book would make a super little movie. Nothing about it is static.

I have to catchup on some work tonight. A little Cafe Cubano and some rumba works like a charm. Taxes? Bring 'em on

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