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Fiesta Femenina: Celebrating Women In Mexican Folktale

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A collection of folktales from various cultures in Mexico, all focusing on the important roles of women, such as Rosha, a young girl who rescues the sun; the goddess Tangu Yuh; Kesne, a Zapotec princess; and the Virgin Mary.


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A collection of folktales from various cultures in Mexico, all focusing on the important roles of women, such as Rosha, a young girl who rescues the sun; the goddess Tangu Yuh; Kesne, a Zapotec princess; and the Virgin Mary.

50 review for Fiesta Femenina: Celebrating Women In Mexican Folktale

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey

    Age: 7-10 years-old Media: predominantly acrylic Although the author's expertise on Mexican culture is only based on personal interest, there is still a lovely collection of 8 stories with prominent female protagonists that are celebrated ("The Hungry Goddess" is excluded from this) including a bullied sister, a free moon, La Virgen de Guadalupe, the cunning Blancaflor, and the controversial Malintzin/Malinche. The writing style of the author makes for great storytelling. Some issues I have with th Age: 7-10 years-old Media: predominantly acrylic Although the author's expertise on Mexican culture is only based on personal interest, there is still a lovely collection of 8 stories with prominent female protagonists that are celebrated ("The Hungry Goddess" is excluded from this) including a bullied sister, a free moon, La Virgen de Guadalupe, the cunning Blancaflor, and the controversial Malintzin/Malinche. The writing style of the author makes for great storytelling. Some issues I have with this collection is the author's lack of credibility and the overstatement of celebratory women. Additionally, Spanish words will occasionally appear in the stories. It seems odd to have these when discussing Mayan, Mixtec, and Yaqui folklore. But Spanish may be a bit more familiar to the children listening. "The Legend of Tangu Yuh" should be avoided due to a poor writing style.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Vamos a Leer

    In this collection, Gerson has compiled a series of Mexican folktales, drawing from Maya, Aztec, Mixtec and Yaqui traditions. The tales have been selected for their strong female protagonists, in an effort to highlight the role of women in Mexican folklore. Gerson explains her intentions in the introduction of the book: "One way in which Mexican stories represent their magical quality of life is through their female characters. Although they do not take the stage as frequently as men, women in Me In this collection, Gerson has compiled a series of Mexican folktales, drawing from Maya, Aztec, Mixtec and Yaqui traditions. The tales have been selected for their strong female protagonists, in an effort to highlight the role of women in Mexican folklore. Gerson explains her intentions in the introduction of the book: "One way in which Mexican stories represent their magical quality of life is through their female characters. Although they do not take the stage as frequently as men, women in Mexican folklore are extremely powerful. They often possess special talents or traits that enable them to rise above the challenges presented to them. These challenges may come in the form of misguided men, powerful sorcerers or even the Devil, himself. But these remarkable women, through their inner strength and creativity, are able to overcome the forces of opposition." As noted by Kirkus Reviews, this book is a celebration “not only of the strength and complexity of Mexican women, but of the richness, vibrancy, and miraculous qualities of Mexican culture.” From resourceful women and their talking animal friends to suffering goddesses and cunning moon women, these tales emphasize the strength of female characters while celebrating the beauty of Mexican culture. Kirkus Reviews also comments upon this book’s wonderful illustrations: “The bold, colorful illustrations include borders along the bottom of each story to reflect its theme and full-page pictures of the heroic women in central scenes from each tale.” Gonzalez’s stunning paintings certainly add to the proud commemoration of these women, illustrating them all as large, central figures, full of vibrant color and texture. Gonzalez is a prolific artist and illustrator for children’s books, many of which touch upon themes of femininity, gender and social justice. In Fiesta Feminina, Gonzalez’s illustrations shine through as an additional ode to womanhood. Moreover, her illustrations also add to the overall celebration of Mexican culture by complementing Gerson’s prose with aesthetic flavors—patterns, symbols and color-schemes—of Mexico. The collection includes a wide variety of legends. In the Mayan tale, Rosha and the Sun, for instance, Rosha helps free the sun who’s been trapped by Rosha’s conniving younger brother. Thanks to Rosha, the sun is free and in return he promises: “your eyes, and the eyes of all the Mayan women, will shine with my golden light forever.” Another story, the story of The Hungry Goddess, tells the tale of how the Hungry Goddess became Mother Earth, and how she continues to persevere, “eating and drinking and creating the earth while we rest in our beds.” Her insatiable appetite symbolizes her tireless determination, necessary for the creation and sustenance of the earth. Furthermore, my personal favorite, Why the Moon is Free, tells the story of how the moon escaped the shackles of marriage with the sun. The sun amorously insisted on making a dress for the moon; when the dress was complete, they would be married. However, the sun could never get the measurements right, since the moon’s body kept changing, waxing and waning from full to crescent and back to full again. Moon is “sometimes slim, often full, and frequently in-between, but always glowing with shimmery silver light.” This tale beautifully emphasizes a woman’s independence, while also celebrating her ever-changing body. Finally, the collection also includes historical legends of the Virgin of Guadeloupe, the venerated symbol of faith and protection, and La Malinche, the brilliant yet controversial aid to Hernán Cortés, the Spanish conquistador. While La Malinche’s work interpreting indigenous language and culture was invaluable for Cortés, many view it as a betrayal, that enabled the violent conqueror: “Some people say that Malintzin (La Malinche) fell in love with Cortés, and because she loved him so much, she tried to help him in every way she could. But others say that because she was born a princess and had lost everything, she was clever enough to recognize a chance of gaining back her birthright of power and comfort.” Nonetheless, these character descriptions show the complexity of women, in real-life and in fictional representation. This is an important element to this book’s mission, as women and girls are often oversimplified or objectified in popular media. While Gerson’s adaptations of Mexican folktales are rooted in the past, focusing on the rich heritage of folklore in Mexico, they also call attention to present-day conditions and the role of women in contemporary Mexico. According to Gerson, the virtues of these legendary women—strength, ambition, ingenuity, courage and kindness—still shine through the lives and work of Mexican women today: "We see it in the strength of the village woman, who rises every day to prepare tortillas, the staple of the family’s diet. We see it in the dedication and intelligence of college graduates and professional women, as more and more women are attaining their degrees and entering the workforce. And most of all, we see it in the collective power of Mexican women, who are forming groups like weaving collectives in Chiapas and Guanajuato, and health centers in Oaxaca, to achieve ever higher standards of life. All over Mexico, women are embracing models and ideals such as the ones in these tales. It seems as if they, like the Hungry Goddess, have a new hunger—to claim their status as the life-giving forces of their Mexican world." These female characters display the role of women in legend and literature. They embody the values and ongoing contributions of women in Mexican society, and across the globe. To use Gerson’ allusion, this month we are celebrating the virtues of the “hungry goddess,” highlighting the status of women in the world, their ambition and innovation, and honoring their every-day impact. For access to the full review and additional resources, check out our Vamos a Leer blog at teachinglatinamericathroughliterature.com

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kaileen Avila

    This week I dedicated it to reading books written by Maya.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Babe of Darkness

    My hunger for knowledge and hunger for living a passionate and meaningful life reunited me with this story. Only now does it truly resonate with me.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Marissa Elera

    This is a collection of eight folktales from Mexico that showcase brave, clever, or powerful female heroines. In her introduction. Mary-Joan Gerson, the collector, explains that she aimed to represent a variety of female roles in Fiesta Feminina, and show the complexity of character. The women in this collection are not just one type of fierce. There is the Malinche figure, Mexico’s most notorious traitor/protector, there is the Moon, who prefers to remain unmarried, and there is even the Virgin This is a collection of eight folktales from Mexico that showcase brave, clever, or powerful female heroines. In her introduction. Mary-Joan Gerson, the collector, explains that she aimed to represent a variety of female roles in Fiesta Feminina, and show the complexity of character. The women in this collection are not just one type of fierce. There is the Malinche figure, Mexico’s most notorious traitor/protector, there is the Moon, who prefers to remain unmarried, and there is even the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico’s revered religious figure. These beautifully told stories are short, spanning from two to four pages in length, in no particular order. Each lends itself marvelously to storytelling purposes. My special favorites are “Why The Moon Is Free” and “The Hungry Goddess”, and “Rosha and the Sun”. This collection could be used to support storytelling to children 7 years and older. While the stories are short and exercise brevity, most of the subjects are complex and rich. Gerson included thorough source notes at the back about each folktale, giving insight into the details of how and why she chose the stories. There is also a pronunciation guide and glossary of Spanish words and phrases at the very end.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cayla Caudillo

    Kirkus Review Drawing on rich strands of Mexican culture, these smoothly told folktales celebrate women, ranging from mythical goddesses to the historical Malintzen (a.k.a. Malinche). Among the tales drawn from the cultures of pre-Spanish Mexico, are “Rosha and the Sun,” from the Maya; “The Hungry Goddess,” an Aztec tale; “The Legend of Tangu Yu,” from the Zapotec; and “Why the Moon Is Free,” a Yaqui tale. Others, many with complex and mysterious origins, include “The Green Bird” and “Blancaflor, Kirkus Review Drawing on rich strands of Mexican culture, these smoothly told folktales celebrate women, ranging from mythical goddesses to the historical Malintzen (a.k.a. Malinche). Among the tales drawn from the cultures of pre-Spanish Mexico, are “Rosha and the Sun,” from the Maya; “The Hungry Goddess,” an Aztec tale; “The Legend of Tangu Yu,” from the Zapotec; and “Why the Moon Is Free,” a Yaqui tale. Others, many with complex and mysterious origins, include “The Green Bird” and “Blancaflor,” and the legends “The Virgin of Guadalupe,” and “Malintzen of the Mountain.” The bold, colorful illustrations include borders along the bottom of each story to reflect its theme and full-page pictures of the heroic women in central scenes from each tale. Detailed source notes include suggestions for additional reading. There’s also a glossary of Spanish words and phrases, a pronunciation guide to Mexican names and places, and a map of Mexico on the end papers. A celebration not only of the strength and complexity of Mexican women, but of the richness, vibrancy, and miraculous qualities of Mexican culture.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    This is definitely a book to be read by or to 3rd graders and up. It would be best to have this book in a classroom where the majority of the students are Hispanic. These stories are legends from the indigenous people of ancient Mexico about women who were very important to their culture and to their people. These stories are told to inspire, mainly, young Hispanic women who might find themselves in a culture that does not support them to their full potential. I believe stories such as these can This is definitely a book to be read by or to 3rd graders and up. It would be best to have this book in a classroom where the majority of the students are Hispanic. These stories are legends from the indigenous people of ancient Mexico about women who were very important to their culture and to their people. These stories are told to inspire, mainly, young Hispanic women who might find themselves in a culture that does not support them to their full potential. I believe stories such as these can show them that in such a male ruled society, even women can make a huge impact in the world. I would find it difficult to incorporate this book into a lesson in a normal classroom, but perhaps if a teacher was talking about women in history a story from this book could be read to show that even in ancient history women were (and always will be) very important.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sydney Rachlin

    1. This book has not received any awards. 2. Appropriate Grade levels: K-12 3. This is a collection of Mexican folktales. Each folktale or legend tells a story about a strong female figure or character. There are eight different folktales such as Rosha and the Sun, The Hungry Goddess, The Legend of Tangu Yuh, Why the Moon is Free, Green Bird, Blancaflor, The Virgin of Guadalupe, and Malintzin of the Mountain. 4. I loved this collection of folktales because it was celebrating women in Mexican folkta 1. This book has not received any awards. 2. Appropriate Grade levels: K-12 3. This is a collection of Mexican folktales. Each folktale or legend tells a story about a strong female figure or character. There are eight different folktales such as Rosha and the Sun, The Hungry Goddess, The Legend of Tangu Yuh, Why the Moon is Free, Green Bird, Blancaflor, The Virgin of Guadalupe, and Malintzin of the Mountain. 4. I loved this collection of folktales because it was celebrating women in Mexican folktales. Each story was beautifully told and very interesting. The illustrations of each story were unique and helped give me a real visual image of the female figure. 5. Teach students about legends and folktales, Mexican culture, and female figures.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tiana

    Another excellent collection of folktales, this time from Mexico and centered around female characters. We all enjoyed the stories and the beautiful, colorful images. We love comparing stories from around the world and the kids are always thrilled they recognize a motif from another story, from another place.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    I mean, what could be better than a feminist folktale about the sun trying to marry the moon and her being able to ward him off by deliberately gaining and losing weight and confusing him because he can't find a dress that fits her and she gets to berate him for getting her size wrong. I mean, what could be better than a feminist folktale about the sun trying to marry the moon and her being able to ward him off by deliberately gaining and losing weight and confusing him because he can't find a dress that fits her and she gets to berate him for getting her size wrong.

  11. 5 out of 5

    (NS)JenniferA

    The very talented storyteller, Mary-Joan Gerson retells many authentic stories which revolve around Mexico's many rich cultural traditions. These stories all involve females. The book is a collection of eight stories, all with colorful and strikingly beautiful illustrations. The very talented storyteller, Mary-Joan Gerson retells many authentic stories which revolve around Mexico's many rich cultural traditions. These stories all involve females. The book is a collection of eight stories, all with colorful and strikingly beautiful illustrations.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lorraine

    Lovely collection of Mexican folktales featuring powerful women - and vivid, bright illustrations that I adore!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Angela Solache

    Great compilation of Mexican folktales, and I love the illustrations.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Bange

    This new paperback edition (c2018) includes an illustrator's note from Maya Christina Gonzalez. She talks about how the murals of Diego Rivera in Mexico City inspired these illustrations. For this reason, she chose to do the illustrations using acrylic washes over gessoed paper. Additionally, she feels that one of the illustrations, "Green Bird", was influenced by the spirit of Frida Kahlo. Otherwise, it includes the same stories as the c2001 edition. Use this in a unit on women's studies, studies This new paperback edition (c2018) includes an illustrator's note from Maya Christina Gonzalez. She talks about how the murals of Diego Rivera in Mexico City inspired these illustrations. For this reason, she chose to do the illustrations using acrylic washes over gessoed paper. Additionally, she feels that one of the illustrations, "Green Bird", was influenced by the spirit of Frida Kahlo. Otherwise, it includes the same stories as the c2001 edition. Use this in a unit on women's studies, studies about Mexico and its cultures, and folklore of the world. Highly Recommended for grades 1-4 (readaloud) and 5-6 (independent reading).

  15. 5 out of 5

    Terry

    I love fables and folklore and enjoyed this collection a lot. These were not stories I had heard before (e.g., similar to other cultures), which made them especially fun. The illustrations are bright and will definitely help add to the visualization for young readers. I would recommend listening to an audiobook rather than reading the print, as the voices are what will make it compelling. I love fables and folklore and enjoyed this collection a lot. These were not stories I had heard before (e.g., similar to other cultures), which made them especially fun. The illustrations are bright and will definitely help add to the visualization for young readers. I would recommend listening to an audiobook rather than reading the print, as the voices are what will make it compelling.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tori Jimenez

    AR level: 5.8 Lexile: 875L A collection of Mexican folktales that emphasize the roles and importance of women in Mexican culture. Includes a glossary with pronunciations and translations to help the reader better understand the tales.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Miriam Shaw

    I like that these are Mexican folktales. However, I wasn't sure what the moral of the stories were. They were fiction fantasy genre. I like that these are Mexican folktales. However, I wasn't sure what the moral of the stories were. They were fiction fantasy genre.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Genesis

    Nice introduction to early Mexican feminism following the oral tradition, vibrant portraiture.

  19. 5 out of 5

    WheeldonHS

  20. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dulce-Marie Flecha

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jasmine Mays

  23. 5 out of 5

    Beverly

  24. 4 out of 5

    Aprils

  25. 4 out of 5

    Svetlana Kovalkova-McKenna

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dulce-Marie

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cecilia

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kiya Heptinstall

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  30. 4 out of 5

    Christine

  31. 5 out of 5

    Sophia

  32. 5 out of 5

    pa'tí m

  33. 5 out of 5

    Michaela

  34. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Robillard

  35. 4 out of 5

    Yinzadi

  36. 4 out of 5

    Tati

  37. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

  38. 5 out of 5

    Kiya Heptinstall

  39. 4 out of 5

    Sam Grace

  40. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

  41. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  42. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

  43. 4 out of 5

    Ofelia Salazar

  44. 5 out of 5

    Robyn

  45. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Huizar

  46. 5 out of 5

    Kaitlyn Lusk

  47. 4 out of 5

    Joanne Morton

  48. 4 out of 5

    Cairn Academy

  49. 5 out of 5

    MaryJo

  50. 4 out of 5

    Dany

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