Monday, September 19, 2016

Rare Book Review: Ninos Desobedientes

A Fair Trade Book--But a Rare One!

Author: Natalia Pikouch

Date: 1994

Publisher: Susarta

ISBN: 958-07-0313-2

Length: 90 pages

Illustrations: full-color paintings by John Israel Rojas

Quote: “[E]l aprendiz era muy inquieto y quería averiguar todos los secretos lo más rápido posible.”

Yes, the first disobedient child punished in this story is the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, pre-Disney version. This is a collection of stories, some from folktale collections and at least one from a “literary” collection, translated into Spanish by Professor Pikouch.

In the next story, we face once again the cultural difference between what writers in different countries consider a suitable story for children. The Russian “Witch Princess” tale, in which the princess is a vampire who has to be killed repeatedly by a hero obeying “his friend’s” instructions perfectly, is not a story most parents in the U.S. would consider appropriate for children, any more than it is a story about children.

The Iraqi story titled “Que tengas felicidad en el nuevo día” is another odd choice for a picture book about disobedient children. In this story Acsán persists in not telling the contents of his dream, in spite of outrageous (and unlikely) punishments, and ends up being sent to see the king and receiving an equally ridiculous reward for his stubbornness. Of course, he’s been following his dream all the while.

The fourth story is a translation of Oscar Wilde’s “Star Boy” story, in which the boy becomes conceited and nasty, and has to perform a lot of poetic penances to atone for his sins. “Sin embargo, no reinó por mucho tiempo…en tres años murió. Y su sucesor reinó con maldad.” Who knows what Oscar Wilde was thinking but this, again, hardly seems like a story to read to children.

“The Three Aunts” is another story, a variation on the Rumpelstiltskin story, where the naughty girl—once again, a “girl” of marriageable age—ends up being rewarded more than punished.

And I’m not sure what to make of the “Uff” story, because the copy of this book that I have is a library book that was discarded due to damage, and some pages from the middle of the story are missing. Nevertheless the naughty “boy” is old enough to work.

My conclusion is that this book is not for little children. The characters are teenagers, not a real niño in the lot, and the level of maturity these stories call for is also at least teenaged. This is another book for high school students who want to translate a fairly short book for a second or third year Spanish class.

In theory anyone buying this book online will, of course, receive a copy that has all its pages. However, the book is out of print and Amazon lists it as not currently available for any price. If you want to buy it here, request it from either address at the very bottom of the screen--below the Amazon gift card widget--and I'll repeat the search, at other sites as well as Amazon if necessary.