Tag Archives: folk tales

All the Books…


ImageI have spent the day walking up and down the stairs of my 3 story townhouse, moving books and other things around.  My goal for this year is to get everything where it should be, then to get rid of what is not necessary. I haven’t finished my mission statement yet, but I figured it couldn’t be “to get rid of all of the crap I have hoarded over the years.” But it actually is sort of going to be that… More later.

Right now, I am just corralling all of the things I have in separate areas. After I have done that, I am going to really get to work. The first thing I have done is to organize most of my books. I love books. I have kept books from childhood. I have bought books for projects, for my students to read, and for study. When I am in Mexico, I buy books. I have an Amazon Prime account, so you know I have a problem.

I have gotten a little bit better. I check books out at the library, and listen to books on CD in the car. But, sometimes, even though I am listening to that book, I have to buy it. Either I have to know what is going to happen next, and don’t want to drive around Atlanta one more time… Or I decide that the book is a keeper and I have to own it.

I have a couple of places where my books reside. One is a large armoire that has been in my family for years. It is a pain in the TAIL to move, especially to put together. This is a piece of furniture meant to be disassembled and reassembled for transport, so I don’t know why it is so difficult.

But it is beautiful, and it holds a lot of books. Mostly cookbooks and diet books. I am going to rid myself of many of those. I added one milk crate because there are a couple of gaps. There are knick knacks. I put some file boxes at the bottom. It looks good. Now I have room in other places for more stuff.

One other thing: the doors are not hung properly, and they don’t close. I solved that, finally.have 3 iron finials in the shape of fleur de lis. They are keeping it closed for Imagenow.

The other place I have books is in the closet of my upstairs guestroom. This is where I keep most of my children’s books. I have YA novels I bought to interest my older middle school students in reading. I have my collection of folk tales and all the story books I could find about La Llorona. I have books from my studies in Oaxaca, as well as picture books in Spanish and Mexican indigenous languages.

ImageTwo collections have not realised their potential as of yet. I have both the Magic Tree House and the Time Warp Trio Series, because I had an idea about using them to help my students do research. You would be surprised at how many of my ELL students favor these books. I usually encourage them to read something more age appropriate, but then I thought I might work with it. I was able to stop myself from buying all of the You Wouldn’t Want… Series from England, but only because I had not used the other books yet. The project has not happened yet.

I also have a dream about students researching famous Spanish-speaking people and creating a Day of the Dead shrine about them. I have a large collection of children’s books about people like Frida Kahlo, Antonio Gaudi, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, etc. that I have been keeping for that purpose. It hasn’t happened yet.

Both of those are things I plImagean to remedy this year. Wait and see.

Finally, I have a stair chest in my bathroom with a small collection of childhood favorites, such as my Marguerite Henry classics and my Trixie Belden series. I also have other books in there… And, yes, I have wondered if a bathroom is really a good place to keep books.

So, there you have it. I have come out of the closet about being a book nut. Interestingly enough, the books are back behind closed doors. Oh, I have another small collection of craft books and magazines in my studio downstairs, but they are not ready for prime time yet.


Cordel Art of Brazil


I have recently gone on a Brazilian kick.  I almost bought a ticket to visit there, even.  On Travelocity.com last Friday, I was doing a random check on airfare and found out it was only $525 RT to Sao Paolo!  I have friends who have relatives there, and was waiting to find out if anyone would be home.  (Interestingly enough, that was more important than waiting for the “go ahead” signal from my hubby…).  Alas, by the time I got an answer, the airfare had shot up to $760.  Dang!  You snooze, you lose.

So I have had to satisfy my urges by visiting my local Brazilian grocery.  There, I bought two savory pastries, one called coxinha and the other was a Brazilian kibbeh concoction called quibe.  I loved the former – a lovely chicken croquette with crispy bread crumbs on the outside (Here is a recipe link).  The kibbeh was too salty.  I also bought a square of orange colored cake with a cocoa icing.  I gave that to my Brazilian co-worker because I am supposed to be on a diet.

The main cultural aspect of Brazil that I have been researching is called cordel literature, or literatura de cordel. (from Maria-Brazil.org): “Literatura de cordel” (string literature) are pamphlets or booklets that hang from a piece of string (cordel) in the places where they are sold. These are long, narrative poems with woodcut illustrations on the cover, often done by the poet himself. There are traditional themes (romances, fantastic stories, animal fables, religious traditions) and themes based on current events, famous people, life in the cities, etc.  Cordel literature can be hilarious and very racy, too.”

Here is an article on electronic cordel literature.

Here are photos of cordel displays in Brazil.

The poetry of d.s. levy, which follows the cordel form.

Article on literature de cordel on Tobetupi.com.

Another piece on cordel literature.

Brazilian Collection and information site on Cordel Literature (in Portuguese).
Acrobat file on native poetry forms of the Americas – first page is on cordel literature.
Arizona State University professor’s article on his cordel collection.

Lesson Plan:  Stories on a String from Saxarts.com

Article on a family day at a San Angelo Texas museum focusing on Brazilian culture.

Another Event: the Green Cordel Festival May 2009

Galleries with Brazilian Woodcuts:
Indigo Arts
A Hopeful Madness
Mariposa Arts
Tesoros Trading Company – You can even buy Cordel Literature by J. Borges

Books about Cordel Literature:
Lampion and his Bandits – English Version of Cordel literature legend, Lampion – a sort of Brazilian Robin Hood.
Stories on a String – by Candace Slater – very important resource.

Jorge Amado: New Critical Essays
Article in Callaloo Journal
The Cambridge History of Latin American Literature by Roberto González Echevarría, Enrique Pupo-Walker

That’s just the beginning.  One of the reasons I am going to the John C. Campbell School is to learn a bit about woodcut printing!

Collecting Folk Tales



A couple of years ago, I used to teach 6th Grade Exploratory Spanish, also known as Spanish connections.  I came across two anthologies of folktales that were written in a side by side style (Spanish on one side, English on the other).  I had my students read the stories, then draw and color illustrations for a story they picked.  I had them use crayons, exclusively.

I personally love crayons.

There were a couple of drawbacks to this assignment. Since the stories had illustrations with them already, a lot of students just traced or copied the illustration that already came with book.  That was a little disappointing. I had a good time doing my own illustrations, and even went so far as to construct a mural by cutting out and gluing the pictures in collage form. I then filled in the gaps with more crayon and then used two sets of stencils I bought to add interest. I got a lot of compliments on it, but it went missing during my second to last classroom move.  Lucky for me, I had taken a photo of it.

I have also tried to do some folktale activities with my 7th and 8th graders, so at one point I bound them into little booklets to make them easier to read and collect in class. By then, I had collected more stories.  Here are some of the books I have in my classroom:

Stories from Mexico :   Historias de Mexico by Genevieve Barlow and William Stivers

Stories from Latin America :   Historias de Latinoamerica by Genevieve Barlow

Horse Hooves and Chicken Feet: Mexican Folktales selected by Neil Philip Illustrated by Jacqueline Mair  (awesome and bright color illustrations based on Mexican folk art)

Fiesta Feminina: Celebrating Women in Mexican Folktale retold by Mary-Joan Gerson and illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez

El Dia que Nevaron Tortillas / The Day it Snowed Tortillas: Folktales told in Spanish and English by Joe Hayes with Illustrations by Antonio Castro L.

Creepy Creatures and Other Cucuys by Xavier Garza (I bought it because it contained a La Llorona story)

Stories from Mexico by Edward and Marguerite Dolch Illustrated by Ernest de Soto  (Written in 1960 by the Edward Dolch of Dolch Sight Words. “Told almost entirely in the “Storyteller’s Vocabulary”, which contains the 684 words most used in the telling of stories, as found by research” This was a cast-off from our school library and has a page or two missing and gang graffiti on some pages. A wonderful and useful collection of stories.)

The Bird Who Cleans the World and Other Mayan Fables by Victor Montejo

My Land Sings: Stories from the Rio Grande by Rudolfo Anaya . Illustrated by Amy Cordova

Mayan Folktales: Folklore from Lake Atitlan, Guatemala – Translated and edited by James D. Sexton

Latin American Folktales: Stories from Hispanic and Indian Traditions Edited and with an Introduction by John Bierhorst.  (No illustrations, but the cover painting introduced me to Francisco (Chico) Da Silva, an awesome Brazilian folk artist)

Latino Read-Aloud Stories: Best-Loved Selections from Latino Cultures in Both English and Spanish Edited by Maite Suarez-Rivas

This is by no means the extent of the anthologies and resources available.  I still have some on my wish list.  But I am trying to learn that I don’t have to have ALL of the books on any given topic that I am interested in. I have also gleaned stories from online sources too numerous to list. Just do a Google Search, and you will find many.