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PACO AND THE GIANT CHILE PLANT / PACO Y PLANTA DE CHILE GIGANTE

Author: Keith Polette

Illustrator: Elizabeth O. Dulemba

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Publisher: Raven Tree Press,

Material: hard cover

Summary: When Paco's mother runs out of money, she sends him to the market to sell la vaca (the cow). On the way, Paco meets a man who trades him a bag of magic chile seeds for the cow. Paco plants the semillas de chile and waits. When the plant erupts from the ground, Paco immediately grabs some chiles and climbs to the top ... only to be discovered by el gigante terrible. Paco tries to save himself by offering the giant the chiles, which bring tears to his eyes. What will happen to Paco? This is a dual-text bilingual book that transforms the classic Jack and the Beanstalk story.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, playtime reading, learning to read, read aloud book, developing reader

Recommended Age: read together: 4 to 10; read yourself: 8 to 12

Interest Level: 4 to 9

Reading Level: 3

Age of Child: Started reading with 6-year-old girl.

Young Reader Reaction: When we started reading, our daughter began to protest about reading the Spanish words. As we got more into the story, she was more interested in listening and stopped asking. The story surprised her, as she wasn't expecting anything different than the classic Jack and the Beanstalk story.

Adult Reader Reaction: What a wonderful story. The author did a fabulous job taking what most of us assume is just a Spanish-added version of a classic story and truly making it his own. He did a masterful job blending Spanish into the story, offering repetition in English and Spanish together. As good as the story is, I could turn the pages just to look at the illustrations, too. On one page, el gigante terrible is reaching out to the reader!

Pros: Everyone will enjoy this new ending to a classic story. The illustrations, combined with well integrated Spanish, make this a must-read for elementary-aged children.

Cons: None

Borrow or Buy: Buy. This is a wonderful book and a nice twist on a classic tale. The illustrations are exceptional and children (especially young boys) will see themselves in Paco: curious, drawn to magic, and a hero.

If You Liked This Book, Try: GRANDMOTHERS' STORIES; Wise Woman Tales from Many Cultures   TELL ME A STORY 1: TIMELESS FOLKTALES FROM AROUND THE WORLD   SYLVESTER AND THE MAGIC PEBBLE

Educational Themes: Like the original Jack and the Beanstalk, this is a story meant to be enjoyed. There are lessons you can draw from this story, and unlike the original, "stealing" is not one of them! Spanish words and idioms are woven into the story and some are included in a glossary in the back.

Notes: 2008 Bronze Medal, Moonbeam Children's Book Awards (Picture Book 5-8 category).

This book has three editions: English only, Spanish Only, and bilingual.

Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book, bilingual, Spanish, fables and folklore, multicultural

Date(s) Reviewed: April 2008

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