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A wealthy rancher is so certain of the honesty of his foreman that he wagers his ranch.
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Gr 2-5-Don Ignacio, a wealthy rancher and owner of the finest apple tree in the area, implicitly trusts his foreman, Juan Valdez. When a friend claims that no employee should be trusted, don Ignacio declares openly that Juan can't tell a lie and in fact has been nicknamed Juan Verdades because of his honesty. Don Arturo then bets his entire ranch that he can get the man to tell a lie. Beautiful Araceli, don Arturo's daughter, schemes with her father to win the wager. When Juan falls in love with her, she asks him to bring her all the fruit from the prized tree. The man does as she asks but must then face his employer. The clever conclusion proves just how truthful Juan is. Hayes's retelling of this tale is masterful and he manages to introduce several Spanish words without disturbing the flow of the text. The full-page paintings capture a distinct landscape and costume and convey the quiet drama of the story. Their dark jewel tones lend a brooding atmosphere, in keeping with the midsection of the tale. As a read-aloud, this story would be likely to evoke some lively discussion about honesty, and right and wrong.
Barbara Buckley, Rockville Centre Public Library, NY
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.From Publishers Weekly:
Hayes (A Spoon for Every Bite) offers a Hispanic setting for his smooth retelling of a traditional tale about a steadfastly honest servant. On a ranch owned by don Ignacio, a spectacular apple tree flourishes under the conscientious care of the foreman, Juan Verdades, who reports daily to the rancher on the condition of his beloved tree. When a fellow rancher, don Arturo, boasts that he can make Juan tell a lie, don Ignacio replies, "I'll bet my ranch against yours that you can't make my foreman lie to me." Using his daughter as a pawn, don Arturo hatches a plot to win his wager, but things don't go quite as he anticipated. Though the subtitle leaves little doubt as to the resolution of the bet, Hayes's flowing plot, enlivened by several wry twists, is decidedly satisfying. Spanish words and phrases dot the characters' dialogue, enhancing the regional flavor. Fiedler's (The Crystal Heart) spare, earth-toned paintings convey the particulars of the setting from traditional garb to the sprawling landscapes as well as the timelessness of folklore. Ages 7-10.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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