Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale – retold by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrated by Michael Austin


            Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale – retold by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrated by Michael Austin, Peachtree, c2007, 2013.

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Folktale

What did you like about the book? Martina the cockroach was very beautiful.  At 21 days old it was time for her to marry.  Martina’s Grandmother’s advice was to spill coffee on the suitor’s shoes.  What?  “It will make him angry! Then you will know how he will speak to you when he loses his temper.  Trust me, Martina.  The Coffee Test never fails.”

The suitors start coming. Don Gallo, the Rooster was the first.  He proposes to Martina.  She spills the coffee on his magnificent shoes and he is furious!  The next suitor is Don Cerdo, the pig.  The pig is just as furious as the rooster when the coffee is spilled.  Next is Don Lagarto, the lizard.  The spilled coffee garners the same result.  The next suitor is a shy little mouse named Perez.  Perez turns the tables: he spills coffee on Martin’s shoes!  Does Martina marry him?

This is an absolutely fun story.  The exquisite illustrations were created in acrylic on Strathmore Series 500 Illustration Board.  All the artwork creates nighttime or dusk scenes, depicting a softness suitable to the subject.

Anything you did not like about the book?  No.

To whom would you recommend this book? Because of the illustrations appearing to be at dusk, there is a softness that could lull young children to sleep.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries, kindergartens and nursery schools.

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Not one to miss, but maybe not the top.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Katrina Yurenka, Retired Librarian, Editor, Youth Services Book Review

Date of Review:  October 2, 2021.

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