Margaret Read MacDonald is an acclaimed storyteller and author. I love how I can hear her storytelling voice echoing in her lively picture book adaptations of tales from around the world. In Conejito: A Folktale from Panama, MacDonald and illustrator Geraldo Valério retell a trickster tale by combining two languages with bright, energetic pictures. Their Conejito (Little Bunny) dances his way up the mountain to visit his aunt, Tía Mónica. Along the way he encounters Señor Zorro (Mr. Fox), Señor Tigre (Mr. Tiger), and Señor León (Mr. Lion), all of whom want to eat Conejito for lunch. Conejito uses his wits to escape, but it is Tía Mónica who thinks of way for him to try to evade his enemies on his trip home.
Valério’s bold acrylic illustrations will delight young readers. Since many of his colorful pictures stretch across two pages, the characters are drawn in an elongated style that gives them great energy. The bunnies’ lengthy ears flop around the pages, and saliva drips from the long tongues of the predatory animals. I love how MacDonald gracefully works Spanish words into her bouncy text. She pairs them with their English equivalents to make their definitions clear, and provides a pronunciation guide at the end of the book. The story is filled with repetition of phrases and plot events, so young readers will find it easy to follow along and guess what will happen next. Conejito: A Folktale from Panama is meant to be read aloud. This tale would be ideal for sharing in an elementary classroom during a unit on world folklore or Central American cultures. It would also be a fun story to chant and sing during a family read-aloud session.
Check the WRL catalog for Conejito: A Folktale from Panama.