HomeBooks by AgeAges 4-8Reimagining some all-time favorites

Reimagining some all-time favorites

By Luisa LaFleur, The Children’s Book Review
Published: April 7, 2009

Time for some oldies but goodies. Chronicle Books has found a way to breathe new life into some of our favorite fairy tales and fables. They’ve retold the stories with some slight modifications (by that I mean, they’ve lightened up some of the scarier endings) and included Spanish page-by-page translations. Coupled with very simple illustrations that serve the stories well, these new editions are a great way to reintroduce these tried and true favorites to young and old. I’ve reviewed three classics below. Stay tuned for more in my next post.

Hare and the Tortoise, The/La Liebre y La Tortuga

Reading level: Ages 4-8

Paperback: 32 pages

Publisher: Chronicle Books; Bilingual edition (June 8, 2006)

Remember the Hare and the Tortoise? One of Aesop’s greatest hits–historians think Aesop lived in ancient Greece from 620-560 BC. He was a slave and a storyteller and The Hare and the Tortoise is one of Aesop’s beast fables involving anthropomorphic animals. In this interpretation, the wily Hare would like to beat the slow Tortoise but his ego and his laziness get in the way. Adapted by Maria Eulalia Valeri, the Spanish version of La Liebre y La Tortuga is quirky and makes good use of Spanish euphemisms that you wouldn’t expect but that work very well to capture the meaning of the tale.

Jack and the Beanstalk / Juan y los Frijoles Magicos

Reading level: Ages 4-8

Hardcover: 32 pages

Publisher: Chronicle Books; Bilingual edition (April 1, 1998)

How about Jack and the Beanstalk? This English fairy tale, closely associated with the tale of Jack the Giant Killer, has been around since the 1700s. The origin of Jack and the Beanstalk is unknown and the earliest printed edition is the 1807 book, The History of Jack and the Bean-Stalk, printed by Benjamin Tabart. The Chronicle Books’ version is adapted by Francesc Bofill and takes the Spanish name, Juan y Los Frijoles Magicos (Juan and the Magic Beans). Jack goes to market to sell the last goat his family has–and instead of taking money for it, opts for some magic beans…there isn’t a goose that lays golden eggs in this story, just a simple, happy ending.

 The Pied Piper / El Flautista de Hamelin

Reading level: Ages 4-8Paperback: 32 pages

Publisher: Chronicle Books; Bilingual edition (January 30, 2008)

And last but not least, The Pied Piper or El Flautista de Hamelin (The Flutist of Hamelin). This is one of the darker fairy tales: the town of Hamelin is infested by rats. The desperate townsfolk agree to pay a gentleman who claims he can lure the rats out of town with his magical flute playing. He does, but the townsfolk refuse to pay what he asks so he lures the town’s children and they’re never seen again. It seems that the story is based on an actual event that took place sometime in the 1200’s in Hamelin, Germany. The earliest written record from the town is from 1284 and chronicles the tragic event, “It is ten years since our children left” but gives little detail as to what happened. Although research has been conducted for centuries, no explanation for the historical event has been agreed upon. The rats were first added to the story in a 1559 version. Luckily, this bi-lingual version, adapted by Jaume Cela, has a somewhat happier ending.

Link: For more bilingual book reviews click here.

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Luisa LaFleur reviews bilingual books for The Children’s Book Review to help parents choose the best books for their budding linguists. She was born in Argentina, attended school in NYC and speaks three foreign languages–Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. Formerly an editor in NYC, Luisa is currently a stay-at-home mom to two little ones.

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