Monday, March 3, 2014

The Song of El Coqui and other tales of Puerto Rico

Author and Illustrator: 
Nocholasa Mohr and Antonio Martorell
Published: 1995

The title of this book appealed to me right away.  I cannot think of Puerto Rico without thinking about the sounds of Puerto Rico, the coqui that sings me to sleep at night and the rooster that wakes me each morning. I know that when I hear the coqui, I am in my most favorite place on the planet.

My parents had read the tales of Juan Bobo to me as a child, but I had not heard the stories in this book before.  This was not an easy book to find, but I'm glad I found it. The first page has a picture of the island with the beautiful clear, blue waters surrounding it.  I felt like I was flying in to paradise.

This book has 3 folktales with 3 different creatures that represent 3 different cultures in Puerto Rico.  There is the coqui, that represents that Taino Indians, the guinea, that represents Africans, and the mula, that represents slaves.

My favorite of the three stories was the story of the coqui.  The Taino Indians believed in a god, Huracan, (Hurricane in English) who was sad by the silence on the island.  He created a huge storm that lasted a million years.  After the storm, the island was still quiet, but Huracan was so tired from making the storm that he fell asleep.  He awoke to "a first like a raindrop."  Huracan finally discovered that the song, "coqui, coqui" was coming from the little frog.  We still hear the coqui's song along with all of the other animals on the island, but "none echoes as loud and as sweet as the song of the tiny coqui."

I read this and felt that it was so true!  I will not go to sleep until I have heard the song of the coqui.  I know
that my students will love to hear this story because I felt such a close tie to the story and we enjoy sharing stories about ourselves.  They'll be surprised at how such a small creature is able to make such a loud sound.  I will share the story of the guinea hens and bring in feathers from the hens on my grandfather's farm and show them a vejigante mask like the ones made by the guinea hen's owner.

This is a topic that will be easy for me to teach because I am passionate about Puerto Rico.  I've really enjoyed using folktales and fairy tales to teach my students about different cultures.  This is one more story to add to my collection.

Check this book out from your library!
Listen to the coqui.

1 comment:

Kristen Felix said...

I loved reading your post, and I can tell that you had a deep personal connection to this book. I know that your students would absolutely love and benefit from hearing about your experiences in Puerto Rico! Can't wait to hear all about your lesson- such a great idea!