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Juan Bobo Goes to Work: A Puerto Rican Folk Tale

Last updated Monday, August 26, 2013

Author: Marisa Montes
Illustrator: Joe Cepeda
Date of Publication: 2000
ISBN: 0688162339
Grade Level: 1st    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Sep. 2013

Synopsis: From School Library Journal
Juan Bobo, the Puerto Rican equivalent of Foolish Jack, can't seem to get anything right. Sent off by his mother to find work, he causes one disaster after another, and manages to lose or destroy his payment in a variety of amusing ways. As luck would have it, one of the boy's misadventures brings laughter to the rich man's daughter, and Juan at last receives compensation that he can hold on to. Montes tells her story well, but Cepeda's illustrations steal the show. Using his distinctive, vibrantly colored acrylics, the artist creates a character whose innocence, confusion, and contrition are endearing. The text is heavily peppered with Spanish phrases, but a glossary and an author's note are included. Another lively addition to folktale shelves.

Note to readers:
•  Review the glossary at the end of the book, especially if you are not familiar with the Spanish word pronunciations.
•  This is a fairly long book for 1st grade.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Where do you think this story takes place?
•  Who is Juan Bobo?

•  wheelbarrow - a one- or two-wheeled vehicle with handles at the rear, used to carry small loads.
•  stable - A building like a barn for the shelter and feeding of domestic animals, especially horses and cattle.
•  burlap bag - A strong, coarsely woven cloth made of fibers of jute, flax, or hemp.
•  flung - threw, tossed quickly
•  drenched - wet through and through; completely soaked
•  grocer - owner of a grocery store
•  meager - very small

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Where is Puerto Rico?
•  What does Juan Bobo mean? (Simple John - Bobo means simple/silly)
•  What was the silliest thing Juan Bobo did?
•  How would you have carried the money, milk, cheese, and ham?
•  Juan Bobo is good at sweeping. What chores are you good at?

Craft ideas:
•  Draw a farm with the animals you would put in the barn.

Special activities:
•  Play Simon Says, but with tasks that Juan Bobo was given, such as carry milk on your head and put money in your pocket.

*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!