The Adventures of El Cipitío / Las Adventuras Del Cipitío

author: Randy Jurado Ertll

illustrator: Randy Burgos

Ertll Publishers, 2018

preschool-up (Salvadoran)

El Cipitío (from the Nauhuatl “cipit” or “capote” for “kid”) is a Nauhuatl character, an eight-year-old (or so) boy who was cursed to remain a kid for eternity. His belly is oversized and his feet are backwards, with his toes pointing behind him. He wears a huge hat and nothing else. He is a trickster, especially targeting women. Cipitío stories are generally told by parents to scare kids out of doing unsafe things.

Jurado Ertll’s version of “Cipitío” is a kinder, gentler little dude. He’s leaving his home country of El Salvador “to seek a better future” in the US and to bring peace to his country. He is fully clothed. No backwards feet. No oversized belly. No tricks. “Cipitío” just happens to be his name.

The hand-drawn cover illustration shows a boy standing in front of the White House. With a somber expression, he looks directly at the reader. Although he is Salvadoran, he wears a huge Mexican charro sombrero (which culturally appropriates a Mexican icon) and a three-piece suit, and holds a string of balloons, one of which says “Cipitío for President.” Cipitío wears his sombrero everywhere, including in the library—where any librarian would make him take it off—and even after he’s been elected President of the United States.

There’s no mention of how “Cipitío” got into the country. Did he fly? Did he come in a caravan? Did he cross the border legally or illegally? He doesn’t speak English, and, for no apparent reason, his teachers tell him that he and his family will be arrested and deported. Nevertheless, he travels the continent, from Guatemala to México to the U.S, ending up in South Central, Los Angeles, where he begins to learn English. Cipitío tells young readers:

I will graduate from elementary school, middle school, and high school. I will attend great colleges and universities. I will prepare myself to be a well-rounded leader who can speak with the poor and the rich, and treat all with dignity and respect.

These are admirable goals that have been achieved by millions of immigrants, including our DACA young people. But there’s no effort here to connect with the lives of real people. Rather, the story reads like a to-do list with nothing to show how Cipitío did it: no harrowing experiences, no explanation, no feelings, no passion.

Although Cipitío becomes a “social justice activist,” there’s no description of his activism. He runs for mayor, campaigns to be President of the United States—and wins—after which, he dances to La Bala. 

Apparently, the author wants young readers to know that a Latino can become a U.S. President—which is a good thing—but there’s nothing about how Cipitío did it. Rather, the story is essentially a recitation of the Great American Myth. 

The Spanish translation is good, but there’s no real story here; especially since it’s originally about a trickster, which Jurado Ertll’s character is not. (It might have been fun to have seen, for instance, how El Cipitío was able to trick someone into nominating him for office.)

In the final illustration Cipitío, in his suit and sombrero, is dancing with his young friends. The song is about dancing to dodge the bullet (which is a metaphor for the danger of being an immigrant), but there’s no story to give root to the metaphor. 

Although The Adventures Of El Cipitío / Las Adventuras Del Cipitío might interest very young children, there’s not much here that would resonate with older readers. 

—Judy Zalazar Drummond and Beverly Slapin

(published 10/17/2021)


  1. This review was poorly written because the book reviewer missed the point of the book...this is a children's book not a college thesis. appears the book reviewer could not do the review by herself and asked a colleague for feedback...unfortunately her colleague (Judy Salazar) does not know that hats are not exclusive to Zapata or Mexico (this is too funny). Hats represent many cultures around the world. A friend from Berkeley suggested this blog...I do not feel the book reviewers are competent in their critiques. The point of views represented sound very outdated and out of touch particularly with the various cultures among Latinos. It sounds as if the reviewer is limited to Mexico and Chicano, which are very distinct to other Latino cultures. I wont come back to this blog.

  2. Lame and inaccurate review of The Adventures of El Cipitio. Just wanted to share my reflection about this inaccurate review of The Adventures of El Cipitio. I naively sent two hard copies of my illustrated book to Beverly Slapin from the De Colores blog. I assumed that she would be fair and accurate in her assessment/review of my illustrated book. It is also interesting that she asked Judy Zalazar Drummond to also review my book. I do not know Ms. Slapin nor Ms. Zalazar but I assumed they would be fair and accurate reviewers of Children’s books.

    I found many misspellings in the review and inaccuracies. To the point that I see it as paternalistic, condescending, and contrary to being supportive of bilingual Latino literature. No wonder we cannot get Central American books into the schools. The bias and prejudice against Salvadoran American/Central American literature is obvious.

    I would like for Beverly Slapin (De Colores blog), to please remove this review from her blog. I don't like to make or create unnecessary controversy. But this review is simply lame.

    Thousands of students have read The Adventures of El Cipitio and they love it! Kids have reviewed my book and when I do book readings - the children love it!!! therefore, it is sad to see grown adults, Beverly and her friend Judy - disparage Central American bilingual literature. They simply do not grasp nor get the message of the book. Especially their prejudice statement about El Cipitio's sombrero (more accurately, it is a wizard hat) - Beverly and Judy claim it is cultural appropriation of a Mexican charro hat. HILARIOUS. Memo to Beverly and Judy: did you know? Central Americans do wear sombreros too. Wow. Sombreros are not exclusive or only worn in Mexico. Look at Peru’s new president. He wears a sombrero.

    I will continue to promote Central American literature/books and I know we face much internal and external discrimination. I will leave it at this but wanted to share my thoughts. Instead of having two grown adults read Children’s Books – it should be children who do the reviews – not adults who may not grasp the surrealism and fantasy behind a Children’s Book. Boy, the reviewers don’t even know the history or meaning of the cumbia song La Bala, performed by Los Hermanos Flores. I recommend for Ms. Slapin and Ms. Zalazar to take a Central American history and culture course. These two adults have simply lost their imagination to dream. El Cipitio (Central American superhero) offers an opportunity for all children to dream big!!!

    Please check out the reviews via GOODREADS:



    Randy Jurado Ertll


We welcome all thoughtful comments. We will not accept racist, sexist, or otherwise mean-spirited posts. Thank you.