Whiskers, Tails & Wings: Animal Folktales from Mexico

illus. by Fabricio VandenBroeck. 64p. bibliog. glossary. index. map. notes. websites. Charlesbridge. 2013. RTE $16.95. ISBN 978-1-58089-372-5; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-1-60734-617-3. LC 2012024636.
Gr 3–6—This well-crafted resource offers folktales from five indigenous peoples of Mexico. Each tale is accompanied by an overview of the group's culture and history and a glossary. The Tarahumara tale, "When Señor Grillo Met Señor Puma," is a classic story of a feisty cricket who outsmarts an arrogant puma and his friends. In the Seri tale, "Mosni's Search," a patient sea turtle is the last animal chosen by the god of creation to retrieve sand from the sea bottom, and she is ultimately the one who succeeds. The Huichol tale, "Tlacuache's Tail," features an opossum that steals fire to share with the people and in the process winds up with a hairless, burnt tail. He finds he can use it for hanging upside down, and his resourcefulness is celebrated. The Triqui people live in the Oaxacan region; their tale, "Ouch!" celebrates the lowly flea and tells why he was created. The Tseltal live in the Chiapas region, and they are part of the Mayan ethnic group. "Pokok Up High" relates what happens when a frog asks a vulture to carry him aloft. The tales are straightforward and lively, and this novel approach to cultural studies should prove welcome and useful. The richly detailed illustrations, done in acrylics and watercolor on custom paper and completed digitally, add to the book's appealing design.—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA

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