La Princesa and the Pea is a Hispanic, Peruvian retelling of a classic fairy tale, The Princess and the Pea. In it, a princess’s authenticity is tested by her ability to feel the presence of a single pea under the pile of mattresses she is instructed to sleep on. There are lots of stories like The Princess and the Pea that kids can rattle off without even thinking very much – The Three Little Pigs, The Three Bears, Cinderella, etc. Some of these stories are so commonly told that children all over the world know them. When the stories are told in different places, they take on interesting differences that reflect the land and culture where the story is being told.
The illustrator of La Princesa and the Pea, Juana Martinez-Neal, won the 2018 Pura Belpre Award for doing an outstanding job of communicating cultural identity through illustration. The award is given for the best work portraying the Latino cultural experience. In Juana’s Illustrations in La Princesa and the Pea, for example, you can see authentic Peruvian weaving like the weaving you see in these Peruvian artifacts from The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.
As you read the story, look closely at the illustrations to see all the steps that are required to make a weaving. As the story of the princess is revealed, so is the Peruvian setting and the experiences of a young lady living there. Classic tales told like this are wonderful opportunities for children to see their own culture reflected in a universal story or see the culture of someone different than themselves.
This page is a list of more classic fairy tales and traditional stories that are told from a Hispanic perspective. The stories have their roots in a Spanish speaking country or have roots in the storytelling traditions of Spanish speaking people living in the United States. Often, these stories are set in the American Southwest, Mexico, Central or South America, or Spain.
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The Gingerbread Boy
The House That Jack Built
Jack and the Beanstalk
The Little Red Hen
Little Red Riding Hood
The Three Billy Goats Gruff
The Three Little Pigs
The Three Bears
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