Adelita: A Mexican Cinderella Story

author: Tomie De Paola
illustrator: Tomie De Paola
Putnam, 2002
kindergarten-grade 3 

Caveat: This reviewer does not like “multicultural” Cinderella variants, of which there are far too many.

Hace mucho tiempo—a long time ago—in a village in Mexico, there lived a merchant named Francisco and his beautiful young wife, Adela. One day, Adela said, “Francisco, estamos esperando un bebé—we are going to have a baby.”

In “Mexico,” no particular place, beautiful young wife has baby, then dies. Merchant remarries, then dies. Stepmother and stepsisters mistreat young daughter. Fiesta, eligible bachelor, blah, blah, blah. Eligible bachelor smitten by young woman, she disappears, he looks for her, stepsisters are jealous, eligible bachelor and beautiful young woman marry and live happily ever after. 

The author’s insertion of italicized Spanish phrases into the text—immediately followed by their English translations—disrupt what little flow there is and are way annoying. Take away the Spanish phrases, acrylic paintings incorporating chili peppers in the kitchen, papel picado decorations at the “fiesta,” a beautifully embroidered rebozo, and the Spanish, upper class stepmother’s abrupt dismissal of her Indian servant (which may be the only truly Mexican cultural marker here), and you have a boring, predictable story, the best part of which is that it’s only 29 páginas—pages—long. Not recommended.

—Beverly Slapin
(published 4/6/13)

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