Review: Kiki Koki: La Leyenda Encantada del Coquí
Author: Ed Rodríguez
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Paperback: 40 pages
Ages: 4 – 8
Long time ago a little Taíno Indian boy lived in the island of Borikén, known today as Puerto Rico. His name was Kiki Kokí. He didn’t like helping his parents with chores. Since Kokí didn't help, he wasn't invited to the Moon Festival.
Kokí got mad and ran to the forest. He hid in a cave because a storm started, but it was flooded. A big and powerful wave pushed him into the bottom of the river. Kokí asked the Moon for help.
Two frogs, Juan and Tonio, pulled Kokí out of the river. Juan and Tonio speak to Kokí as if he was a frog. He doesn’t understand what is going on until he sees his reflection on the river. He was transformed into golden tree frog!
Juan and Tonio take him to see Mona, a lizard who is a witch. Mona tells Kokí that he has to wait thirty days until the moon shines again. He has to live in the frog villa and help its inhabitants in the meantime. Only if he helps, he will turn into a kid again.
Kokí helped every day at the villa. He also helped everyone in need. The villa throws him a farewell party when the thirty days are up. He tells his friends that he is going to miss them.
As Kokí rows downstream, he encounters a pirate ship. The pirates plan to attack the frog villa and eat all the frogs. He decides he has to do something to help his friends. He tells the pirates that he will lead them to a golden treasure if they let go his friends.
Kokí guides the pirates to the cave. The cave gets flooded again. Kokí tells his friends to jump out of the pirate ship. They all swim to safety. The pirates and the pirate ship disappear.
Kokí ends up in the riverbank, where the Moon sees him. Since he proved he wasn't egoistic and that he had a heart of gold, the Moon turn him back into a kid. Kokí gives thanks to the Moon. He was so happy to be back home with his family. He helped them with the chores from then on.
The frogs, however, kept looking for Kokí to give him thanks for saving them from the pirates. They couldn't find him, but promised to look for him forever. Five hundred years have passed since then, but people still hear the frogs calling his friend during the warm Puerto Rican nights.
Ed Rodríguez does a wonderful job incorporating Taíno myths in Kiki Koki: La Leyenda Encantada del Coquí. Puerto Rican children definitely need more books like this. The story and the illustrations are amazingly top notch.
The main lesson of the story is for children to learn the importance of helping at home and the community. The Taíno Indians knew about the significance of working together for the betterment of the whole community. Rodriguez successfully implements their ideas in the story.
My daughters greatly enjoyed this book. I was beyond happy to find a beautiful story having to do with Puerto Rican roots. I don’t find books like that all the time. My daughters started to learn about our native coquís and Taíno Indians thanks to this story.
We read the Spanish edition, which is excellent for children to practice or learn Spanish. This is a great book for Puerto Rican families living in the diaspora like my family.
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