Blancaflor, The Hero with Secret Powers: A Folktale from Latin America

Sept. 2021. 56p. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781943145553; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781943145560.
Gr 3-6–Blancaflor’s hungry ogre father has invited a prince to test his luck in the usually impossible game of the Ogre’s Three. If the prince loses, he’ll be eaten by the father and Blancaflor’s family will inherit the prince’s kingdom; if he wins, he gets the ogre’s castle. When the prince arrives and is given near-impossible tasks to complete, Blancaflor finds herself captivated by him and does everything within her power to ensure that her father loses. The use of intricate, curved lines adds visual intrigue to natural elements in this clever and humorous take on a feminist fairy tale told around the world. Scenic panels, particularly those involving the royal family, take on a pastel, stained glass aesthetic. Vertical paneling in the physical environment (in buildings and in nature) skillfully conveys physical movement and story progression in a limited space, and power is often depicted via an effective use of exaggerated character scaling. The prince appears light-skinned—his parents have different skin tones implying different racial or ethic backgrounds—while Blancaflor and her sisters appear to be darker-skinned, likely of mixed European and Indigenous heritage despite having an ogre parent. An introduction is included, and there is a full Spanish-language version; in the English version, only the lyrics to the Spanish Renaissance song “Din Dirin Din” appear in Spanish.
VERDICT This version of the classic story is a lovely confluence of European and North American culture that celebrates the strength and wit of a young girl whose abilities have been overlooked or underestimated.

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