If you grew up in a Latino household, chances are you’ve heard more fairy tales than the traditional ones you’d find in Mother Goose books like Jack and the Beanstalk and Hansel and Gretel. How many of your older siblings or cousins would scare you to sleep with spooky Latin American folk stories like La Llorona or El Chupacabra?
Luckily, for Latinos, not all fairy tales have to be terrifying (someone tell director Guillermo del Toro that). Fairy tales have a long history in Latin America and there are plenty that have been published that won’t make Latino children hide under their blankets out of fear for the cucuy outside their window.
Since most of the Latino folktales are pretty well-established, today (Feb. 26) on National Tell a Fairy Tale Day, we’ll look at some more modern fairy tales for children written by Latino authors. Here are five we think you’ll enjoy.
The Runaway Piggy (El Cochinito Fugitivo)
Written by James Luna and illustrated by Laura Lacámara, this 2010 children’s book is the Latino version of the classic Gingerbread Man story. Instead of an anthropomorphic cookie, however, Luna uses a cochinito you’d find at your local panaderia. Like the Gingerbread Man, the cochinito leaps off the baking tray and runs through the neighborhood visiting Lorenzo’s Auto Shop and Mamá Nita’s Beauty Sálon before he meets a little girl named Rosa who takes him in.
The Princess and the Warrior
Mexican American author Duncan Tonatiuh brought this Mexican legend new life in 2016. The story follows a princess named Izta who falls in love with a brave warrior named Popoca. The warrior could not offer her riches like her other suitors, so Izta’s father tells him the only way he can marry his daughter is if he defeats their enemy, Jaguar Claw.
The Secret Footprints
Written by Julia Alvarez and illustrated by Fabian Negrin, the Dominican legend is reinvented for a new generation. The story follows a group of creatures known as ciguapas who live at the bottom of the sea. The creatures have backwards feet, so that human can’t follow their footprints. Guapa is one of the brave ciguapas who ventures out onto the shore where she finds a piece of pan dulce inside the pocket of a boy’s jacket.
The Woman Who Outshone the Sun
Written in 1997 by Alejandro Cruz Martinez and illustrated by Fernando Olivera, the book tells the story of Lucia Zenteno, a beautiful woman with “glorious hair” that some people said could block out the sunlight. She was so beautiful, that when she bathed in the nearby river, the river fell in love with her.
Author Yuyi Morales’ 2018 book brings her immigration story to the page for readers. Morales crossed the border into the United States in 1994 with her infant son. Although she left so much behind in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, she had everything she needed right there with her.