Paco and the Giant Chile Plant: Paco Y La Planta De Chile Giganta
By Keith Polette
Illustrated by Elizabeth O. Dulemba
Raven Tree Press, 2008
This is a bilingual retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk. It is set in the Southwestern United States. The text is told in English with a lot of Spanish words embedded in the text. Readers who are bilingual will enjoy this tale that flips back and forth between Spanish and English. Students who are somewhat familiar or not familiar at all with Spanish will be able to use the glossary at the back of the book or discover the meaning of the word from the context of the sentence. The Spanish words included are mentioned in context and highlighted in red.
Paco and his mother need money, so they must sell their cow. Paco sells the cow to a man who gives him seeds in exchange for his cow. He plants the seeds to the chile plant and thus the Jack and the Beanstalk story begins. Here is an excerpt from the story where Paco meets the man who gives him the seeds:
Paco harnessed la vaca and led it down the dusty road.
At a dip in the dusty camino, Paco met an old man with bright eyes. Los ojos del viejo twinkled like stars. He held a walking staff and a small bag. El Viejo said, “Good afternoon, joven. That is a fine vaca, young man.”
“Buenos tardes, señor,” replied Paco. “Si, yes, it is a fine cow, but I must sell her. My mother and I have no money.”
This Jack and the Beanstalk story bears much resemblance to the traditional version, but of course a Mexican-American flare has been added. I especially love the surprise ending.
Elizabeth O. Dulemba’s digital illustrations give it an animated movie feel. Ms. Dulemba has lots of freebies on her website connected to this book. There are coloring pages (which she also features weekly on her blog), wallpaper, recipes, and a word search.
I would recommend this book to teachers and librarians who have bilingual children in their classrooms.