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Martina, the Beautiful Cockroach

Last updated Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Author: Carmen Agra Deedy
Illustrator: Michael Austin
Date of Publication: 2007
ISBN: 1561453994
Grade Level: 1st    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Sep. 2008

Synopsis: From Amazon.com:

Carmen Agra Deedy delivers a deliciously inventive Cuban version of the beloved Martina folktale, complete with a dash of cafe cubano. Martina the beautiful cockroach doesn't know coffee beans about love and marriage. That's where her Cuban family comes in. While some of the Cucarachas offer her gifts to make her more attractive, only Abuela, her grandmother, gives her something really useful: un consejo increible, some shocking advice. You want me to do what? Martina gasps. At first, Martina is skeptical of her Abuela's unorthodox suggestion, but when suitor after suitor fails The Coffee Test, she wonders if a little green cockroach can ever find true love. Soon, only the gardener Parez, a tiny brown mouse, is left. But what will happen when Martina offers him cafe Cubano? After reading this sweet and witty retelling of the Cuban folktale, you ll never look at a cockroach the same way again.

Note to readers:
•  Cuban cockroaches are green–see back flap.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What is a folktale?
•  Do you parents or grandparents tell you folktales?
•  Do you know how your parents met?
•  Do you think you’ll ever get married?
•  How will you know who to marry?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Do you know where Cuba is?
•  Can you visit there?
•  What language do they speak in Cuba?
•  What is a “suitor”?
•  What is the coffee test? Is coffee hot or cold? Do you think the coffee test would work?
•  Is that a good way to test someone’s personality?
•  Do you listen to your grandmother or your mom? Do they give you good advise?

Craft ideas:
•  Draw the cockroach and the mice as a bride and groom with their grandmas
•  Draw the cockroach and her suitors and how they reacted to the coffee test.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!