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cover Juan Bobo

Juan Bobo and the Pig
retold by Felix Pitre, illustrated by Christy Hale
(Lodestar Books, 1993)
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While his mother goes to church, Juan cares for the pig with humorous results.
awards • reviews
• American Booksellers' Pick of the List
"The Original Art Show" selection

A Puerto Rican storyteller, now in New York, brings a catchy lilt to a story about a traditional figure well known as a simpleton. When Juan Bobo's mother goes to church, dressed to the nines, she reminds him to take good care of the pig. Concerned because the puerquito is squealing, Juan Bobo offers him pork chops and soda, but to no avail; concluding that "You want to go to church," he lugs the pig into the house, dresses him in "Mami's" best, and frees him. When his mother returns, the fully clothed pig is rolling happily in the mud. Pitre spices his brisk narration with modern touches that are sure to elicit giggles (Mami and pig are both squeezed into girdles) and repeats key words in Spanish for color, cadence, and a painless language lesson; Hale's vibrant linoleum prints, in stylish Caribbean hues (pink, indigo, lemon, apple green), are full of energy and humor that suit the story beautifully. Perfect for sharing aloud. (Folklore/Picture book. 4–8)
—Kirkus Reviews

In an evocative debut flavored with basic Spanish words, Pitre and Hale introduce Juan Bobo, a folk figure commonly used to teach a moral: as Pitre explains in a foreword, bobo may mean "fool," but Juan Bobo's "silly ways" lead to lessons for the "so-called smart people." One Sunday morning, Juan Bobo's mother tells him to tend "the puerquito, the pig" while she's at church. Juan dutifully complies, but the pig seems unhappy. It won't eat the pork chop or drink the soda he brings. At last Juan decides that the pig wants to dress up and attend church, too. Hale suggests tropical climes with stylish prints that favor dark purple outlines and warm shades of yellow, green and turquoise; she imagines Juan Bobo's mother as a curvaceous woman who slips into a girdle and sexy dress before teetering away in red high heels, a parodic treatment that matches the story's light spirit. Readers unfamiliar with Spanish may run into trouble, for although Pitre translates each simple phrase ("Ay, que bueno, this is great"), he includes no pronunciation key (in at least one linguistic stumbling block, the pig's "oink" is translated as "Chruuurh! Chruuurh!"). Nevertheless, his parable and Hale's spicy art provide a unique and playful look at the folk heroes of another culture. (Ages 5–8)
Publishers Weekly
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Mami leavingJuan Bobo relaxingwhat's the matterJuan BObo refrigeratorchuletas de cerdogirdlefinal touchesya lista