Great Illustrated Books

Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale

By Carmen Agra Deedy, Illustrated by Michael Austin

Peachtree Publishers, 2007
Pages : 32
Suggested Ages: 6-9
ISBN: 9781561453993

At the ripe old age of 21 days, Martina Josefina Catalina Cucaracha, a beautiful cockroach who lives with her family in a cozy street lamp in Old Havana, is ready to give her leg in marriage. Abuela, her Cuban grandmother, gives her "un consejo increíble, some shocking advice." She tells Martina to spill coffee on each of her suitor's shoes to make him angry. Then she will know how he will behave when he loses his temper. Abuela says, "The Coffee Test never fails." Hearing that Martina is available, the fellows come calling, singing her praises: "Martina Josefina Catalina Cucaracha, beautiful muchacha, won't you be my wife?" "Coffee, señor?" she replies to each potential husband. Don Gallo the cocky, self-important rooster is infuriated. "Clumsy cockroach! I will teach you better manners when you are my wife." Don Cerdo, the stinky, self-absorbed pig, squeals, "What a tragedy for my poor loafers!" Don Lagarto, the creepy lizard, hisses, "And to think I was going to eat-er-MARRY you!" It's not until she meets Pérez, a kind little mouse who thinks she is beautiful, that she finds her perfect match. Huge glossy acrylics portray that cockroach as the most delectable of creatures.

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If you love this book, then try:

Belpre, Pura. Perez and Martina: A Puerto Rican Folktale. Viking, 1991.

Bernier-Grand, Carmen T. Juan Bobo: Four Folktales from Puerto Rico. HarperCollins, 1994.

Campoy, F. Isabel, and Alma Flor Ada. Tales Our Abuelitas Told: A Hispanic Folktale Collection. Atheneum, 2006.

Gonz��lez, Lucia M. The Bossy Gallito: A Traditional Cuban Folktale. Scholastic, 1994.

Gonz��lez, Lucia M. Se�or Cat's Romance and Other Favorite Stories from Latin America. Scholastic, 1997.

Gonzalez, Lucia. The Storyteller's Candle / La Velita de los Cuentos. Children's Book Press, 2008.

Montes, Marisa. Juan Bobo Goes to Work: A Puerto Rican Folktale. HarperCollins, 2000.

Pitre, Felix. Juan Bobo and the Pig: A Puerto Rican Folktale. Lodestar, 1993.

Pitre, Felix. Paco and the Witch: A Puerto Rican Folktale. Dutton, 1995.

Sacre, Antonio. The Barking Mouse. Albert Whitman, 2003.

Simms, Laura. The Squeaky Door. Crown, 1991.

Critics have said

...pure enjoyment from the first sentence to the last.