Book Review: The Song of el Coqui and Other Tales of Puerto Rico by Nicholasa Mohr and Antonio Martorell



Title: The Song of el Coquí and Other Tales of Puerto Rico
Author: Nicholasa Mohr
Illustrator: Antonio Martorell
Publisher: Penguin Book  
Year: 1995
Ages: 6+

The Song of el Coquí and Other Tales of Puerto Rico is a collection of three short stories that represent the three major ethnicities of the island’s population: Spaniards, Africans, and Native Americans. In the first tale, “The Song of el Coquí,” the god Huracán is angry because “there was no music to make him happy.” When Huracán heard the “coquí, coquí” sound of the little frogs, he became happy. “La Guinea: The Stowaway Hen” is about a guinea that slave traders took from a village on the coast of West Africa during a raid. Once in Puerto Rico, the guinea escapes to freedom. A vejigante mask-maker finds the guinea and takes care of it. From then on, the guinea inspires his art. In the third tale, “La Mula, the Cimarron Mule,” a mule arrives in Puerto Rico from the port of Cádiz in Spain. After being sold at the marketplace in San Juan, she works all day long alongside the slaves. One day, a slave named Otilio escapes with the mule to join the Cimarrons, who were slaves who escaped to freedom.

The famous Nuyorican writer Nicholasa Mohr wrote these three folktales to introduce children to Puerto Rican culture. Antonio Martorell, a renowned Puerto Rican painter, brought the stories alive with vibrant, semi-abstract, and playful illustrations. I recommend parents to read this book along with their children to help them understand the meaning of the stories. My six-year-old daughter’s favorite was “The Song of el Coquí.” She was happy that the god Huracán stopped being mad after listening to the sound of the coquí. It was also the easiest to understand of the three folktales. This book is a good choice for readers who want to have Puerto Rican folktales in their book collections.

Rating: 4 stars.

Where to Find itLocal Library and Amazon



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