Red Ridin' in the Hood and other Cuentos by Patricia Santos Marcantonio

Title: Red Ridin in the Hood and Other Cuentos
Author: Patricia Santos Marcantonio, pictures by Renato Alarcao
Country: US (2005)
Pages: 186
Genre: children's books, fairy tales
Rating: ****

Red Ridin' in the Hood markets itself as being "retelling of classic European folktales with a modern Latino twist" has received mixed reviews. Honestly, I had never even heard of it until I went cruising through my school's media center to check out Lon PoPo for our fairy tale unit and pulled it up on our intranet database. I'm always looking for something different so thought I would give it a shot.

I'm a bit mixed and can understand the reviewers on Amazon, both the good and bad. Some of the retelling of the stories I really enjoyed, while others (the retelling of Sleeping Beauty bored me to tears) I could have done without reading. Marcantonio does do a fair job at adding present day norms to the fairy tales.

A retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk tuns into Juan and the Pinto Bean Stalk. In this tale, Juan is a very lazy and conceited young man who would rather skip school and hang with his "bros" at the beach checking out the girls. The tale opens with Juan who "hitched up his baggy pants and pulled down his bandana". His mom begs him to focus more on the family and convinces him to go into town rather than the beach to sell their car to a used car dealership. Well, I bet you can guess what happens, right? Juan, instead of getting money, gets 3 magical pinto beans. Juan compares his experience by saying "[it] was not going to be like a walk to the 7-Eleven for a microwave burrito and soda". Upon climbing up the grown pinto bean stalk, he meets El-Grande (yup, the giant) who shouts "Ay Yi Yi Yo, I smell the blood of a lazy Nino".

Belleza y la Bestia, the retelling of Beauty and the Beast, was another favorite of mine. The story is told in first person, fromt he Bestia's point of view. He comes across as caring and decent and the we get to embrace the emotional side of the character.

Emperador's New Clothes is simply a story of a high school bully who thinks he's hot stuff until another student's clever plan convinces him to wear high fashion clothes that don't exist. Emperador ends up strutting the high school in his boxers with all students snickering.

Overall, this was a very fun collection of (updated) fairy tales.

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