From School Library Journal
Grade 1-4-El Zipitio, a character from the Salvadoran Pipil/Nahua tradition, is an odd little fellow with a pot belly and feet that are on backward. He is a sad and lonely figure who only comes out at dawn when he can hide in the shadows-and who only comes out at all when he is in love. When Rufina Prez reaches puberty, her mother tells her that the Zipitio will soon appear to her. She explains that the creature means no harm, and that running away will only encourage his pursuit. Still, when the tiny man speaks to the girl, she flees. Comforting her daughter, Rufina's mother gives her a secret for handling the Zipitio. When next they meet, Rufina sends her adversary to perform an impossible task, and since he is unable to complete it, she never sees him again. The ending seems lacking in resolution and leaves readers sympathizing with the Zipitio. Nevertheless, the story is well told and is a solid example of a female right of passage. Enhanced with bright, full-page acrylic-on-canvas illustrations, this offering compares well with traditional tales such as Alejandro Cruz Martinez's The Woman Who Outshone the Sun (Children's Book Press, 1991), and original stories like Matthew Gollub's The Twenty-Five Mixtec Cats (Morrow, 1993). However, it is most strongly reminiscent of Wilhelm Hauff's Dwarf Long-Nose (Random, 1960; o.p.), which also includes a stolen child, a curse, and resulting physical changes. Read alongside any of these, Zipitio will create a storytime focused on Latin American folktales or cross-cultural motifs.Ann Welton, Grant Elementary School, Tacoma, WA
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