Monday, April 28, 2008

Zorro and Quwi: Tales of a trickster guinea pig by Rebecca Hickox, illustrated by Kim Howard

A tricky fox lives in the mountains of Peru. A tricky, hungry fox!

Unfortunately for Zorro, Quwi, the plump guinea pig he chases every night, is hungry too - and even trickier! In a series of nightly encounters, Quwi outsmarts the hungry Zorro, who finally gives up.

Folktale enthusiasts will notice at least one classic trickster story; trading places in a trap after raiding a garden (at least that's the one I know). The other stories may or may not be familiar.

The author's note says these tales are based on a folktale collection from the 70s, with the guinea pig trickster as a mouse. However, the guinea pig as trickster is apparently a familiar figure in Peruvian folklore and his substitution for the original mouse gives the stories an interesting twist.

The writing is brisk and segues easily between the different episodes. Hickox has kept the folktale flavor without dating the stories or making them too contemporary. Kim Howard's illustrations are bright and chunky, using big splashes of color and broad outlines.

Verdict: This picturebook is a little long for reading aloud to the preschool crowd, although older children might enjoy it. The book is episodic enough to make it easy to adapt individual stories for telling aloud. Plus, it's got a guinea pig!

ISBN: 978-0385321228; Published February 1997 by Doubleday (out of print); Borrowed from the library; Added to my personal wishlist

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