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Myths, History, Nursery Rhymes, Fantasy & Facts

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Books and Stories - Cuba - Cuban - Cubans
SOS: Searching Out Stories/Info - Cuba - Cubans
...Advice, Comments and References from Storytellers,
...Teachers and Librarians




Book titles are in blue and underlined. Click on them to get more information.
To retell any stories, obtain permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain.
In performance, always credit your sources.
Alphabetized for your convenience with short descriptions to save you research time.

Celia Cruz, Queen of Salsa by Veronica Chambers with Julie Maren (illus). (2007 - Ages 4-8)
"In the fabled land of Havana, where rhythm grows, sweet and juicy," there lived a girl, Celia Cruz, and she sang like a bird. A vibrant story of Celia Cruz, growing up in Cuba, her family, her singing, her dreams. Lush, colorful illustrations capture the music and heart of the Queen of Salsa.

Child of the Sun: A Cuban Legend (Legends of the World) by Sandra Arnold. (1997 - Ages 4-8)
Cuban Folktales and Fairytales
Greedy Sun refuses to share the sky with Moon in this Cuban legend that explains why solar eclipses occur.

Latin American Folktales : Stories from Hispanic and Indian Traditions (Pantheon Fairy Tale & Folklore Library.) by John Bierhorst. (2003)
Death Come as a Rooster
The wisdom and artistry of Latin America's storytellers preserve one of the world's richest folktale traditions--combining the lore of medieval Europe, the ancient Near East, and pre-Columbian America. Among the essential characters are the quiet man's wife who knew the Devil's secrets, the tree daughters who robbed their father's grave, and the wife in disguise who married her own husband--not to mention the Bear's son, the tricksters Fox and Monkey, the two compadres, and the classic rogue Pedro de Urdemalas.

Gathered from twenty countries, including the United States, the stories are here brought together in a core collection of one hundred tales arranged in the form of a velorio, or wake, the most frequent occasion for public storytelling. The tales are preceded by a selection of early Colonial legends foreshadowing the themes of Latino folklore and are followed by a carefully chosen group of modern Indian myths that replay the basic stories in a contrasting key. Riddles, chain riddles, and folk prayers, part and parcel of the velorio along with folktales, are introduced at appropriate junctures.

The collection is unprecedented in size and scope, and most of the tales have not been translated into English before. The result is the first panoramic anthology of Hispano-American folk narratives in any language--meant to be dipped into at random or read straight through from "Once and twice makes thrice upon a time" to "They were happy as the dickens and ate chickens."

St. Peter's Wishes

Best-Loved Folktales of the World by Joanna Cole. (1983 - Baby-Preschool)
How El Bizarron Fooled the Devil
This collection of over 200 folk and fairy tales from all over the world encompasses all cultures. Featuring selections lovingly selected from the personal favorites of folklorists and writers, this major anthology includes stories from West and East Europe, Asia, the Americas, the Caribbean, and Africa.

Bossy Gallito (The)/El Gallo de Bodas: A Traditional Cuban Folktale (Dual Language Edition) by Lucia Gonzalez. (2009 - Ages 4-8)
A traditional Cuban folk tale retold in a bilingual format and relocated to the Little Havana section of Miami. The book features delightful illustrations by acclaimed illustrator Lulu Delacre, who used hundreds of photo studies to recreate this authentically magical environment where roosters wear tuxedos and animals rule the roost.

The audiobook is read by author Lucia Gonzalez in an authentically Cuban style brings this classic Latin American folk tale to life. The notes at the end of the story, included in the audio recording add insight into Cuban American cultural traditions.

Cuba The Culture (Lands, Peoples, and Cultures) by April Fast. (2004 - Ages 9-12)
This work is intended for children aged 9-14 years. The Spanish had an enormous impact on Cuba's history and culture. They introduced the Spanish language to the island, and Roman Catholicism, which is the country's main religion. Other cultures have also contributed their own influence particularly in the area of the arts and food. "Cuba The Culture" features the traditions and celebrations of the country's many different cultural influences. Topics include: the influence of African music in Cuban styles of music and dance such as the conga; traditional dishes from Spain; Santeria, a religion influenced by West African traditions that blends Roman Catholic traditions with the belief in many gods and goddesses; Haitian Creole, Cuba's second official language; traditional Chinese foods and celebrating Chinese New Year in El Barrio Chino, or China Town of Zafra, or the sugar cane harvest.

Favorite Folktales from Around the World (Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library) by Jane Yolen. (1988 - Ages 9-12)
How El Bizarron Fooled the Devil
A one volume collection of 160 tales from over 40 cultures and traditions, containing both classics and lesser known tales.

Golden Tales by Lulu Delacre. (2001 - Ages 9-12)
Sencion, the Indian Girl
This lush collection of twelve traditional Latin American tales brings the history and culture of thirteen countries into a vivid new perspective. Readers will have a unique glimpse of the early indigenous cultures, and of the literature that later blossomed with the blending of the Spanish and Native cultures.

Momentos mágicos / Magic Moments by Olga Loya. (1997 - Ages 4-8)
The Alligator and the Dog
In Latin American culture with its blend of Indian, Spanish, Catholic, and African influence magic is a part of the everyday world. Momentos mA-gicos, or magic moments, can come in many forms. For storyteller Olga Loya, magic occurs every time an ancient story is passed from teller to listener. The sixteen stories here are full of momentos mA-gicos. Presented in equally vibrant English and Spanish, they include stories of the supernatural, such as the Mexican tale of La Llorona.

Senor Cat's Romance and Other Favorite Stories from Latin America by Lucia Gonzalez. (2001 - Ages 4-8)
Delightful stories of Juan Bobo and the three-legged pot, Martina the little cockroach, the kind, foolish Señor Cat who needs his nine lives, and more. "The stories in this collection were first told to me by my great-aunt when I was still a child in Cuba."

Under The Royal Palms : A Childhood in Cuba by Alma Flor Ada. (1998 - Ages 9-12)

Offers young readers another inspiring collection of stories and reminiscences drawn from her childhood on the island of Cuba. Through those stories we see how the many events and relationships she enjoyed helped shape who she is today.

We learn of a deep friendship with a beloved dance teacher that helped sustain young Alma Flor through a miserable year in school. We meet relatives, like her mysterious Uncle Manolo, whose secret, she later learns, is that he dedicated his life to healing lepers. We share the tragedy of another uncle whose spirited personality leads to his love of flying...and the crash that takes his life.

Heartwarming, poignant, and often humorous, this collection encourages children to discover the stories in their our own lives -- stories that can help inform their own values and celebrate the joys and struggles we all share no matter where or when we grew up.

Putumayo Presents: Carnival (CD)
When you hear Cuban music, it just makes you want to get up and dance. This is a great selection of songs that features trumpet, guitar, maracas, congas and bongo drums. (Audio CD)

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Advice, Comments and References from Storytellers, Teachers and Librarians

(excerpts from Storytell posts plus original research)

1) Look for the book The Barking Mouse by Antonio Sacre, it is a bilingual tale from Cuba. The audience loves it! You can also find it in More Ready to Tell Tales by Holt and Mooney.

2) From the From the Winds of Manguito/Desde los Vientos de Manguito: Cuban Folktales in English and Spanish/Cuentos Folkloricos de Cuba, en Ingles y Espanol (World Folklore Series)
Take a look at this book edited by Margaret Read MacDonald.
Sean B. 1/5/06


Just got back on Storytell after a LOOOOOONG absence (been out of the country too much). I see that Sean already gave you info about From the Winds of Manguito but wanted to put in my two cents, too. Elvia Perez, the author, is a Cuban teller and quite a lady. I was fortunate to get to know her a few years ago in Habana and she agreed to contribute this collection of Cuban stories. She even sent along a tape with the songs and I was able to find a musician friend to set them down, so the book includes the music for several of the stories. I especially like the lively Afro-Cuban folktales. This is part of the Libraries Unlimited series which tries to present collections of tales from countries around the world.

Margaret Read MacDonald 1/6/06

3) In 2003 I listed this site in the Stor E Telling column for Storytelling Magazine.
Folk and Fairy Tales From Around the World
Compiled by the librarian and students of Sunrise Mountain High School, this incredible index of Folk and Fairy Tales lists stories by country of origin, story title and book title. If you are preparing a multicultural storytelling program this is the place to start!
Karen C.

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Created 2006; last update 1/21/11

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