Review of Blancaflor, the Hero with Secret Powers: A Folktale from Latin America

Blancaflor, the Hero with Secret Powers: A Folktale from Latin America
by Nadja Spiegelman; illus. by Sergio García Sánchez
Intermediate    TOON    56 pp.    g
9/21    978-1-943145-55-3    $16.95
Paper ed.  978-1-943145-56-0    $9.99
Spanish ed.  978-1-943145-57-7    $16.95

In engaging comic-format style, ­Spiegelman and Sánchez (Lost in NYC, rev. 7/15) retell the Latin American folktale “Blancaflor,” about the youngest daughter of a monstrous ogre. The ogre has cast a spell on a witless handsome prince, which grants the prince good luck every time he plays a game. On the day this luck is set to expire, the ogre invites him to play “the ogre’s three,” consisting of seemingly unwinnable quests. ­Blancaflor uses her own magical powers to assist the prince. Spiegelman’s retelling is a fresh take on the classic story, with contemporary and effortless language that will resonate with modern audiences. Sánchez’s energetic illustrations are a visual delight (particularly on the interspersed double-page spreads). ­Blancaflor is depicted with long brown braids, brown skin, and a comely countenance. Her strength shines through in a calm manner: Blancaflor creates her own fate and does not accept defeat, even when fulfilling the quests nearly costs her her life. The exaggeratedly elongated limbs of the figures reflect the enchanted world in which the characters reside, and the mercurial moods of the ogre are especially well depicted. F. Isabel Campoy writes an informative introduction, and ­Spiegelman appends an essay on the importance of fairy tales, along with a bibliography. Simultaneously published in Spanish.

From the November/December 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Yesica Hurd

Yesica Hurd is a children's librarian at the Berkeley Public Library at the Central Children's Room.

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