Filipino Children’s Favorite Stories: Fables, Myths and Fairy Tales

Tuttle. Mar. 2020. 64p. retold by Liana Romulo. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780804850216.
Gr 2-6–Thirteen tales explain phenomena (why mosquitoes buzz in people’s ears; why rain ends wind; how the Philippines arose), endorse values (teamwork, marital loyalty), and support ethics (good vanquishes evil). The retellings are wordy. Some depict violent retribution and bad behavior: a malevolent giant is tortured by his victims; a goddess is lazy, vain, jealous, untruthful, and disloyal. In a “Hansel and Gretel” variant, a father abandons his new stepfamily when his older kids complain of unfair treatment. In another tale, the creator banishes his adolescent flower-goddess daughter for missing an unannounced meeting. One story features a gossiping man who is turned into a rooster. Lively line-and-color paintings are rendered in a naive style (a particular art aesthetic) but are realistic. Cultural details (dress, architecture, flora and fauna) are set against flat backgrounds.
VERDICT There is a dearth of children’s material from the Philippines. This book’s vivid artwork is attractive, but the illustrations alone might not be enough to encourage young children to read or listen through the entirety of the lengthy tales.

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