Review of Carina Felina

Carina Felina Carina Felina
by Carmen Agra Deedy; illus. by Henry Cole
Primary    Scholastic    48 pp.
8/23    9781338749168    $19.99
Spanish ed.  9781339013183    $7.99

In this folktale retelling, Pepe the parrot doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into when he invites his crush, Carina Felina, over for some homemade Cuban crackers. Carina, a fluffy aqua-colored feline with a Cheshire Cat grin, immediately polishes off all one hundred crackers. When Pepe protests, she proclaims, “Why, I’m Carina Felina! / I do what I like and / I eat what I wish. / Step out of my way, / or be my next dish!” and snarfs him down too. Carina then struts through town, eating anyone who doesn’t heed her warning. She grows comically larger with every meal, and the cartoonlike illustrations show the people and animals inside her belly. The mayhem finally stops when two cangrejos—crabs who have been watching the whole time—goad her into eating them. In her stomach they declare, “¡Basta! Enough!” They snip themselves and everyone else free, and Carina is left to stitch herself up. Deedy’s catchy text is clever through the final playfully gruesome scene. Cole emphasizes the humor in the tale with pencil and digital illustrations that feature expressive townsfolk and animals. Storytime listeners will be chanting along with Carina’s refrain by her second snack and will enjoy going back to search for the two cangrejos in each encounter. Back matter includes information about the folktale (told in many cultures), a glossary of Spanish words, and a recipe for Cuban crackers—bake at your own risk. Will be published in a Spanish paperback edition in September 2023 as El cuento de Carina Felina.

From the September/October 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Monica de los Reyes

Monica de los Reyes is editorial assistant for The Horn Book, Inc.

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