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Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale

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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. At first, Martina is skeptical of her Abuela's unorthodox suggestion, 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. 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 P'rez, a tiny brown mouse, is left. But what will happen when Martina offers him caf' cubano? After reading this sweet and witty retelling of the Cuban folktale, readers will never look at a cockroach the same way again. Also in Spanish and audio, Carmen Agra Deedy delivers a deliciously inventive Cuban version of the beloved Martina folktale, complete with a dash of caf' cubano.


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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. At first, Martina is skeptical of her Abuela's unorthodox suggestion, 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. 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 P'rez, a tiny brown mouse, is left. But what will happen when Martina offers him caf' cubano? After reading this sweet and witty retelling of the Cuban folktale, readers will never look at a cockroach the same way again. Also in Spanish and audio, Carmen Agra Deedy delivers a deliciously inventive Cuban version of the beloved Martina folktale, complete with a dash of caf' cubano.

30 review for Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale

  1. 5 out of 5

    Calista

    Wow, this is a beautiful book and I do like the folktale. I feel like I might have read something similar to this before. The artwork deserves a Caldecott. Martina has come of age and she is ready to be married. The word is spread for suitors all over. Martina’s grandmother tells her she must use the coffee test to find a good husband. You pour coffee on the man’s shoes to see his reaction and then you will know how he will treat you when you are married. Basically, his true colors will be Wow, this is a beautiful book and I do like the folktale. I feel like I might have read something similar to this before. The artwork deserves a Caldecott. Martina has come of age and she is ready to be married. The word is spread for suitors all over. Martina’s grandmother tells her she must use the coffee test to find a good husband. You pour coffee on the man’s shoes to see his reaction and then you will know how he will treat you when you are married. Basically, his true colors will be revealed. We see several suitors and their reactions to the coffee are pretty revealing. It works well, in the story. Martina does find a suitable husband and I enjoy the ending. It’s a delightful twist. I want to own this little story. It would actually make dating quite messy though. Plus, you would want to wear some of your less favorite shoes on your date as it would ruin the shoes. It would make dating even more expensive The nephew thought this story was funny. He laughed each time coffee was spilled on shoes. I told him he was not allowed to do this to people. It’s for the purpose of the story. I can only hope his little grasshopper mind will forget this by the time he has a drink in his hand next. Luckily, he mostly drinks water. He gave this book 4 stars. He was a fan.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Manybooks

    Wow!! Carmen Agra Deedy's (author) and Michael Austin's (illustrator) Martina the Beautiful Cockroach is simply amazing, evocative, engaging, and easily one of the very best folklore adaptations I have had the pleasure to read (and I say that even though I actually have a bit of a cockroach phobia). And I cannot even decide what I enjoyed more, the luminous, breathtaking illustrations, which not only depict Martina as very beautiful indeed, but also clearly show the character of her suitors (the Wow!! Carmen Agra Deedy's (author) and Michael Austin's (illustrator) Martina the Beautiful Cockroach is simply amazing, evocative, engaging, and easily one of the very best folklore adaptations I have had the pleasure to read (and I say that even though I actually have a bit of a cockroach phobia). And I cannot even decide what I enjoyed more, the luminous, breathtaking illustrations, which not only depict Martina as very beautiful indeed, but also clearly show the character of her suitors (the proud, overbearing rooster, the slovenly pig, the cold-blooded, creepy lizard, and finally, Perez, the sweet and diminutive mouse, who looks just as cute and lovable as he is described and who loves Martina not for her physical appearance, but because she is sweet tempered and strong voiced) or the engaging and often subtly humorous narrative. I have found myself smiling at the many humorous little touches the author uses, such as the age of marriage for a cockroach being 21 days instead of 21 years, or the fact that Martina does not give her hand in marriage, but her leg. The idea of spilling coffee onto a potential suitor's shoes in order to discover how he might react if angered, is furthermore not only an interesting and workable narrative tool, one which strips the pretense from Martina's suitors and shows their true characters, her Abuela's advice is actually something based on simple common sense (before marriage, it is a very good idea to be aware of how your significant other will act and/or react, and it is especially important to know how he/she might react if angered). In Martina's case, the coffee test saves her from some very unsuitable (if not dangerous) matches. But when she meets Perez, the coffee ends up on the other foot (her own), as Perez also has a Cuban grandmother (at that, I laughed until tears came, so funny, so adorably ironic, and I knew that the two were and are definitely meant for one another). From a multicultural point of view, I also appreciate the fact that Martina's suitors are not other cockroaches, but different kinds of animals; Martina the Beautiful Cockroach thus also both presents and promotes intercultural and interracial relationships and marriage. There is never a sense of Martina's animal suitors being culturally or ethnically unsuitable, they are unsuitable due to their undesirable character traits (pride, anger, sloth, some of the seven so-called deadly sins). And in the end, Martina's love interest and potential bridegroom is a mouse, and not a cockroach. In fact, throughout the course of the story, not one cockroach suitor appears, which I think is an interesting and thought-provoking touch, as it counters the idea of having to marry within one's own narrow cultural and ethnic sphere. I would recommend this wonderful folktale adaptation to anyone who enjoys the former, and honestly, even if you do not like bugs, this is a story which is in no way creepy or uncomfortable; Martina and her Abuela are both beautiful and lovable, and Perez the mouse is simply adorable, of course. The only animals that I personally find potentially frightening are the choleric, blustering rooster and the creepy, snake-like lizard. Thus, even if you do not find insects appealing, you will most likely adore this wonderful and sweetly humorous retelling of a Cuban folktale.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Vegan

    I must express my gratitude to the Picture Book Club at the Children's Books group. I. Never. Would. Have. Picked. This. Book. Up. And. Read. It. Never. It turns out from a note on the back inside cover that the Cuban Cockroach, Panclora nivea, has an iridescent green coat/beautiful and is a vegetarian, which wsa not quite enough to sell me but made me less squeamish. However, the book charmed me. Oh, I chortled my way through it. It was amusing, and heartwarming too. Interspecies marriage, hmm, I must express my gratitude to the Picture Book Club at the Children's Books group. I. Never. Would. Have. Picked. This. Book. Up. And. Read. It. Never. It turns out from a note on the back inside cover that the Cuban Cockroach, Panclora nivea, has an iridescent green coat/beautiful and is a vegetarian, which wsa not quite enough to sell me but made me less squeamish. However, the book charmed me. Oh, I chortled my way through it. It was amusing, and heartwarming too. Interspecies marriage, hmm, but somehow it ended up working. The illustrations are strikingly beautiful, really special. What a pleasant surprise!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    This was great! An unexpected treat. Luminous artwork and a fine "moral" to the story that is clever and sweet, not preachy. (The only thing I found weird was that the suitors for Martina the Beautiful Cockroach were NOT other cochroaches but lizards and pigs and such... but, hey, it is a fable!)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ronyell

    “Martina the Beautiful Cockroach” is a Pura Belpre Honor Book by Carmen Agra Deedy along with gorgeous illustrations by Michael Austin and it is about how a young and beautiful cockroach named Martina tries to find a good husband by following her Cuban grandmother’s advice in spilling coffee on her suitor’s shoes. “Martina the Beautiful Cockroach” is a beautiful Cuban folktale that everyone who loves books about bugs will definitely appreciate. Carmen Agra Deedy has done a superb job at writing “Martina the Beautiful Cockroach” is a Pura Belpre Honor Book by Carmen Agra Deedy along with gorgeous illustrations by Michael Austin and it is about how a young and beautiful cockroach named Martina tries to find a good husband by following her Cuban grandmother’s advice in spilling coffee on her suitor’s shoes. “Martina the Beautiful Cockroach” is a beautiful Cuban folktale that everyone who loves books about bugs will definitely appreciate. Carmen Agra Deedy has done a superb job at writing this story about a young cockroach’s attempts in finding the perfect husband. Carmen Agra Deedy makes the story hilarious and creative at the same time as the reactions that each of the suitors give to Martina after she spills the coffee on them is extremely hilarious and amazing as the suitors get easily angry at Martina, not knowing full well about how Martina cleverly tries to find the perfect husband by their behavior and I think that the way that Martina tries to find her perfect husband by testing their personalities is a stroke of genius since I have never heard anyone try to find their perfect mate by testing their temper (which makes me think about doing this just to test their personalities). Michael Austin’s illustrations are extremely beautiful and exaggerated at the same time as Martina is drawn to be extremely beautiful with her fluttering eyes and her smooth figure and Michael Austin has also shown comical sides to the illustrations as Martina’s suitors look enormous and out of place and they always wear a cocky expression on their faces which goes along nicely with their personalities. “Martina the Beautiful Cockroach” is a truly brilliant book about how respecting your elders can help you in your most dire situation and about what true romance is all about and many children who love Cuban folktales and bugs will definitely love this book. I would recommend this book to children ages five and up since the language might be difficult for smaller children to understand. Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

  6. 5 out of 5

    Abigail

    When Martina the beautiful cockroach - Martina Josephina Catalina Cucaracha to her family - reaches the mature age of 21 days, and is considered old enough to marry, her father has el perico (the parrot) spread the news. Soon the would-be bridegrooms are lining up, and Martina's female relatives are pressing lace shawls and seashell combs on her. Her formidable Cuban grandmother has other ideas though, and offers un consejo increíble (a shocking piece of advice): if Martina "accidentally" spills When Martina the beautiful cockroach - Martina Josephina Catalina Cucaracha to her family - reaches the mature age of 21 days, and is considered old enough to marry, her father has el perico (the parrot) spread the news. Soon the would-be bridegrooms are lining up, and Martina's female relatives are pressing lace shawls and seashell combs on her. Her formidable Cuban grandmother has other ideas though, and offers un consejo increíble (a shocking piece of advice): if Martina "accidentally" spills some strong coffee on each of her suitors' shoes, she will soon see what they are really like... This charming Cuban folktale reminded me of the Puerto Rican story of Perez and Martina , which also featured a love-match between a mouse named Perez and a cockroach named Martina, but the focus here is exclusively on the courtship stage, with the wedding serving as a happy ending. Deedy's engaging narrative, with its droll sense of humor, its wise appreciation for the realities of "human" nature, and its sprinkling of Spanish words, is well matched by Michael Austin's colorful acrylic artwork. Some of the two-page spreads seemed almost like stills from an animated fantasy film, creating an overall effect of enchantment and wonder. Highly recommended to all young folklore lovers, even those who aren't particularly fond of cockroaches...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Crystal Marcos

    I was intrigued to read about something that would never cross my mind as beautiful. I must say, I really enjoyed it! So much so when my sister came over, I told her you have to read this! She enjoyed it too. Like Kathyrn, I enjoyed having the Spanish and English words so I could learn. My copy did not have a glossary at the end. =( The illustators use of colors was perfect, blues, greens, and pinks. It added to the beauty of the folktale. Michael Austin managed to make something most people I was intrigued to read about something that would never cross my mind as beautiful. I must say, I really enjoyed it! So much so when my sister came over, I told her you have to read this! She enjoyed it too. Like Kathyrn, I enjoyed having the Spanish and English words so I could learn. My copy did not have a glossary at the end. =( The illustators use of colors was perfect, blues, greens, and pinks. It added to the beauty of the folktale. Michael Austin managed to make something most people find repulsive, beautiful. Long lashes and Martina's beauty mark certainly were cute details. I also appreciate how he captured Martina's different moods. For example, when she was fuming angry at that moment, she was not beautiful. Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror when you were really mad? No one is beautiful at that moment. Carmen Agra Deedy version of the story was charming. I love the characters. Especially Grandma and Perez. The ending was oh too cute! Thank you again Children's Group introducing me to a world of books I may have otherwise never known!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dolly

    This is a wonderful folktale for young children and it is filled with touches of Hispanic culture, sage wisdom, respect for elders, and the sweet kind of ending you'd expect in a children's story. The illustrations are fantastic, too. We really enjoyed this book and purchased it at the school book fair for our oldest daughter's Second grade teacher for her class. This story was selected as one of the books for the May 2010 - Latino reads at the Picture-Book Club in the Children's Books Group here This is a wonderful folktale for young children and it is filled with touches of Hispanic culture, sage wisdom, respect for elders, and the sweet kind of ending you'd expect in a children's story. The illustrations are fantastic, too. We really enjoyed this book and purchased it at the school book fair for our oldest daughter's Second grade teacher for her class. This story was selected as one of the books for the May 2010 - Latino reads at the Picture-Book Club in the Children's Books Group here at Goodreads.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    A clever and fun folk tale where beautiful Martina is trying to choose a husband. Her Cuban grandmother warns her that it will be easy to find suitors but challenging to make a good choice. So she must use the Coffee Test...spill a little coffee on each potential suitor's shoes and see how they react. This is fun to read aloud...especially the various suitors' proposals, "Martina Josefina Catalina Cucaracha, beautiful muchacha, won't you be my wife?" And the illustrations are a wonderful A clever and fun folk tale where beautiful Martina is trying to choose a husband. Her Cuban grandmother warns her that it will be easy to find suitors but challenging to make a good choice. So she must use the Coffee Test...spill a little coffee on each potential suitor's shoes and see how they react. This is fun to read aloud...especially the various suitors' proposals, "Martina Josefina Catalina Cucaracha, beautiful muchacha, won't you be my wife?" And the illustrations are a wonderful fit...and even manage to make the cockroach look pretty (quite a feat in my opinion! I think cockroaches are disgusting creatures.) Clever and funny and great word play.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Krista the Krazy Kataloguer

    What a delightful story! I'm going to spill coffee on the shoes of any potential husbands I may come across. Great idea! I love Michael Austin's illustrations, especially the picture when she's meeting Perez the mouse and her antennae are curled in the shape of a heart. So cute! I highly recommend this Pura Belpre honor book!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Karol

    What a cute story! I have to say that the title didn't sell me - I mean, who wants to read about a COCKROACH of all things!?! Despite that, I liked this humorous look at following Grandma's advice. Very nicely done. The illustrations were detailed, yet perfectly suited to the light-hearted nature of the story.

  12. 5 out of 5

    SheAintGotNoShoes

    Kudos to the illustrator for making the one and only roach a cutie !!! Nice little story - perhaps women need to try her technique, perhaps they would land better husbands !!!!!!!!!! :-)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    This book was given an award for it's audio version which is absolutely amazing! The story is read by the author herself and is funny and authentic. Martina Josephina Catalina Cucaracha, the main characters is looking for a husband and she has many to choose from due to her beauty! Her grandmother, Abuela tries to be matchmaker, but Martina is embarrassed by that. Abuela decides to have a coffee test to find a husband for Martina. This part of the story reminded me of the Abuela and Abuelita This book was given an award for it's audio version which is absolutely amazing! The story is read by the author herself and is funny and authentic. Martina Josephina Catalina Cucaracha, the main characters is looking for a husband and she has many to choose from due to her beauty! Her grandmother, Abuela tries to be matchmaker, but Martina is embarrassed by that. Abuela decides to have a coffee test to find a husband for Martina. This part of the story reminded me of the Abuela and Abuelita Mexican coffee brand. It definitely added some humor to the already funny story for me. The three contestants: Don Gallo the cocky rooster, Don Cerdo the pig, and Don Lagarto the creepy lizard all fail her coffee test. Martina is upset about this, until she notices a mouse that takes her breath away - Perez. She likes him and doesn't want him to go through Abuela's coffee test; however, Abuela is insistent. I would say that this book is a read aloud MUST! I read the book while listening to the audio version and it really came alive for me, as it would for our students. The illustrations are a must see as well - they are wonderful airbrush illustrations. The book is beautiful, authentic and available in Spanish!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Cochran

    When I started this book, I immediately questioned whether I was going to like it because the main character was a cockroach, and those creatures aren't usually given the spotlight. Despite my aversion to this book, I still read it with a relatively open mind, and I am so glad I did! This book had me laughing from the beginning sentence to the end punctuation. Not only was this book hilarious, but it was beautifully illustrated. This book outlines and follows Martina's "difficult" journey to When I started this book, I immediately questioned whether I was going to like it because the main character was a cockroach, and those creatures aren't usually given the spotlight. Despite my aversion to this book, I still read it with a relatively open mind, and I am so glad I did! This book had me laughing from the beginning sentence to the end punctuation. Not only was this book hilarious, but it was beautifully illustrated. This book outlines and follows Martina's "difficult" journey to find a husband suitable for her and her family. Each of her family members is so excited for Martina's future, but advice from Martina's grandmother makes the story hilarious and Martina's decision making somewhat challenging. I would classify this book under the genre of a folktale and believe it would be an appropriate read aloud for grades 1-4. This book would lead to great discussion in any of these grades, but could be independently read, or read in a small group with even deeper discussion in grades 3 and 4. One of the reasons I love this book is because it has so many different uses in the classroom. As a simple read aloud, the rich and diverse vocabulary alone is a wonderful tool to help create a diverse classroom language. It is opening up the students to a different cultural background, and exposing them to a new way of thinking about words. Additionally, there are so many resources available online that this could easily be turned into a reader's theater activity and be performed in front of other students at the school to give the students an opportunity to tell the story in a different way. This activity could also be expanded into the students doing research on cockroaches, possibly creating KWL charts, or writing down questions for further research exploration based on the topics presented in the story. The students could also brainstorm other animals that Martina could have encountered in the story and write those animals reactions to having coffee spilled on them. I think this would be a wonderful activity for the students to be creative and use their knowledge of the text in a fun and inventive way. Additionally, the students could write stories from the point of view of the other suitors who did not win Martina's affections. This activity would be great to compare and contrast versions of the same story, and also a lot of fun for any students. This book was definitely a wow book for me, and one I will refer back to often during my teaching career. To start, the pictures in this book are dreamy and done with an acrylic flare that makes them simply beautiful. Cuban elements are sprinkled throughout the story, which makes the tale original and authentic. This story was magical and wonderful and after reading, I look at cockroaches in a different light. This story teaches a lesson about how the gift of wisdom is sometimes more profitable than the gift of beauty. Even though this story is intended for younger readers, there are some funny elements and subtle word play that keep adult readers engaged from start to finish. I loved this story and loved the different and unique ways it can be applied to the classroom environment. It is a beautiful story and I cannot wait to read it to my students and relish in their delight as they listen to it, because it is truly a delightful read!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Karrie

    Though the animal stereotypes are just that I was charmed by the rhythm of this cautionary tale. There was a lot of personality in the illustrations, but I was distracted by the weird light sources in them.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jacquelyn

    Genre: Folktale Reading level: Ages 4-8 One might think this is a story about vanity, but fear not! It is a moral tale about finding a good mate by testing their mettle. Martina is given gifts to enhance her beauty from her female relatives, but gets the best gift of all from her grandmother: the gift of wisdom. Various suitors are introduced and dismissed for their stereotypical traits, the rooster for his vanity, the pig for his boorishness, and the lizard for his cold-bloodedness. In the end, Genre: Folktale Reading level: Ages 4-8 One might think this is a story about vanity, but fear not! It is a moral tale about finding a good mate by testing their mettle. Martina is given gifts to enhance her beauty from her female relatives, but gets the best gift of all from her grandmother: the gift of wisdom. Various suitors are introduced and dismissed for their stereotypical traits, the rooster for his vanity, the pig for his boorishness, and the lizard for his cold-bloodedness. In the end, the meek mouse inherits Martina with his kind ways and clever use of her own grandmother's test. Oops, I’ve given away the ending! But that shouldn’t stop you from finding out for yourself how Martina, the Beautiful Cockroach chooses the perfect husband. This bilingual tale is retold by Carmen Agra Deedy for a younger audience, but the subtle humor and play on words will delight older readers. Michael Austin’s gorgeous full-color illustrations are packed with action and funny facial expressions. His use of Cuban items in the art is clever. We see a stairway made of cigar boxes, Maja powder box used as a stool, and a Royal Violet perfume bottle as a dressing table. Historic Cuban architecture is featured in the background of the drawings. Bright and festive, the pictures manage to convey a story told by night with shadows and shaded backgrounds. Although lacking a source note, one can assume from the dedication to Deedy’s Abuelas that she learned this tale at the knee of the experts. Other tales of beautiful girls: Ella enchanted, Gail Carson Levine Mufaro’s beautiful daughters: an African folktale, John Steptoe Rapunzel, Paul O, Zelinsky

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Johnson

    In this hilarious picture book, Carmen Agra Deedy tells a cuban folktale about a cockroach. I was thrilled to find this story and add it to my collection of folklore read alouds. This author and illustrator do an amazing job of bringing the cuban story to life. The folktale tells of a beautiful cockroach who is to be married. Her family gives her many things, but her grandmother gives her the most important thing, advice. She tells her granddaughter, Martina of a coffee spill test that will help In this hilarious picture book, Carmen Agra Deedy tells a cuban folktale about a cockroach. I was thrilled to find this story and add it to my collection of folklore read alouds. This author and illustrator do an amazing job of bringing the cuban story to life. The folktale tells of a beautiful cockroach who is to be married. Her family gives her many things, but her grandmother gives her the most important thing, advice. She tells her granddaughter, Martina of a coffee spill test that will help her to find the right husband to marry. Both my students and myself loved this story. I read it with my Kindergarteners, but it could most definitely be used as a read aloud or independently read book through fifth grade. Teachers could use this text to introduce their students to various cultures. The author incorporates hints of foreign language throughout the text. This text is a good way to expose students to not only different languages but also different cultures. While exposing students to the cuban culture you can also have the students share about their own cultures and customs. I was wowed by this book at how well the author was able to personify a cockroach and the other animals. As you read the story you forget that Martina is a cockroach and begin to relate to the character and the difficult time she had with the task of finding the right husband. The is tale has inspired me to look beyond the traditional folktales used for my folklore and fable unit and branch out to other cultures to spotlight the diversity with my students.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    Martina the Beautiful Cockroach is a folktale about a female cockroach who is looking for a husband and gets advice from her grandma on how to find the right one. I would read this book to a class of 2nd-5th grade on the SMARTBoard. When using this in my future classroom, I would use this for a lesson in two different ways. First, I would do a read aloud with it where we would talk about how to chose the right friends. Even though we should not ever spill coffee on other people (I figure I would Martina the Beautiful Cockroach is a folktale about a female cockroach who is looking for a husband and gets advice from her grandma on how to find the right one. I would read this book to a class of 2nd-5th grade on the SMARTBoard. When using this in my future classroom, I would use this for a lesson in two different ways. First, I would do a read aloud with it where we would talk about how to chose the right friends. Even though we should not ever spill coffee on other people (I figure I would need to say that to the younger ones since they might try this at home), we do want friends who will respect us and treat us kindly. Second, I could also view this in another way, where I could discuss the importance of not being like the men who treated Martina in a mean way when she spilled coffee on them. Instead of getting angry at people, we should be kind and forgiving. This book is a WOW for me because I found it enjoyable to read. Reading the title at first made me not want to read it because I do not like cockroaches. However, as I read, I realized that this book has a very important message to it. I also loved how interesting the characters are, and the way they act in the story. Each character had something unique to them which I really liked. This book surprised me a lot, and made me realize never judge a book by its title!!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kelsi

    Martina the Beautiful Cockroach was a surprisingly beautiful and heartwarming story of a young cockroach in search of a husband. This story portrays a fantasized version of an old Cuban tradition of ‘the coffee spill test’ in the search for finding a proper mate. This story was a WOW for me for so many reasons, the illustrations were absolutely beautiful, the story was so sweet, and the writing was magnificent. Additionally, I connect with this story being of Cuban decent and picturing my Abuela Martina the Beautiful Cockroach was a surprisingly beautiful and heartwarming story of a young cockroach in search of a husband. This story portrays a fantasized version of an old Cuban tradition of ‘the coffee spill test’ in the search for finding a proper mate. This story was a WOW for me for so many reasons, the illustrations were absolutely beautiful, the story was so sweet, and the writing was magnificent. Additionally, I connect with this story being of Cuban decent and picturing my Abuela giving me similar advice! This would be a wonderful book to read to and with students in any Elementary grade, especially to bring Hispanic culture into your read alouds. I would use this book to talk about folktales and fables as it fits those categories so well- having students examine the features of the genre’s through this story. Additionally, I might use this book as a way for my Hispanic students to feel more at home in my classroom- either having their family members come in and read this story, or having them help with pronouncing words, or even just to have diverse literature in our classroom.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    Really really super delightful.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stanley Gajda

    Martina the Beautiful Cockroach written by Carmen Agra Deedy (and illustrated by Michael Austin) provides a complex, multicultural, quality picture book ideal for reading aloud. This Cuban folklore tells the story of how Martina identified a Cucaracha suitable to marry by following her grandmother’s unorthodox advice (i.e., The Coffee Test). Martina the Beautiful Cockroach has been nominated for the Irma Black Award and the Pura Belpré Award for Narrative. Although it has been marketed to Pre K Martina the Beautiful Cockroach written by Carmen Agra Deedy (and illustrated by Michael Austin) provides a complex, multicultural, quality picture book ideal for reading aloud. This Cuban folklore tells the story of how Martina identified a Cucaracha suitable to marry by following her grandmother’s unorthodox advice (i.e., The Coffee Test). Martina the Beautiful Cockroach has been nominated for the Irma Black Award and the Pura Belpré Award for Narrative. Although it has been marketed to Pre K – 3, it has a Fountas & Pinnell Level Gradient of P and a Lexile Measure of AD720L. According to Scholastic, the text complexity ranges from slightly difficult text organization; to moderately difficult meaning, visual features, conventionality, sentence structure, and life experiences; to very difficult vocabulary and cultural knowledge. Indeed, it seems to coincide best with Grade 3 curriculum in Language Arts (by comprehending, interpreting, evaluating, appreciating, and responding to a wide variety of texts and text structure), Social Studies (learning about communities around the world: people and places), and Science . Martina the Beautiful Cockroach is as familiar to Puerto Rican and Cuban youngsters as the “Three Little Pigs” is to American kids. In this fun and engaging Latin-American folk tale, an alluring cockroach named Martina dabs on some perfume and puts on a pretty dress to entertain marriage suitors (i.e., Don Gallo, the rooster; Don Cerdo, the pig; and Don Lagarto, the lizard). Abuela (i.e., Martina’s grandmother) advises her to spill coffee on each suitor’s shoe to see how he will speak to her when he loses his temper. Don Gallo vows to teach her a lesson, Don Cerdo declares there be no end to her cleaning, and Don Lagarto changes his colors and betrays his true intentions (to eat her!). A final suitor, Perez, the mouse, playfully splashes coffee back on Martina’s shoes. Then Perez delights Martina by revealing he too has a Cuban grandmother! From a Language Arts perspective, Martina the Beautiful Cockroach elicits fertile discussion questions for reading comprehension and higher level thinking: (1) Martina’s grandmother gives her some good advice. What kind of advice has your grandmother given you? (2) How would you react if someone poured coffee on your shoes? How does adversity reveal our true character? (3) Why does Martina choose to marry Perez the mouse? Who would you have chosen to marry? Why? Social Studies standards may be addressed by using this story to develop students’ Map Skills. For example, students may asked to locate Cuba on a world map. Students may also complete a graphic organizer or diorama to learn more about Cuba (e.g., the country’s size, climate, population, products, and language). Finally Science standards such as understand human body systems and how they are essential for life (i.e., protection, movement and support) by comparting Cockroaches to humans. Start with a KWL Chart about Cockroaches (K = What I Know; W = What I Want To Learn; L = What I Have Learned.). For instance, insects (e.g., ants, cockroaches, flies, and bees) can be divided into three parts: head, chest, and stomach. They have six legs. All have hearts. Only some have brains. Insects have no bones and no noses. (They smell through feelers on the side of their head, up to half a mile away.) Then compare these facts with the humans in the class. For even more ideas and lesson guides, see http://www.vaasl.org/pdfs/Conference_....

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Pridgen

    I would highly recommend this Cuban folktale to any third grade readers! This story has beautiful illustrations that I loved looking at throughout the story. In addition to its breathtaking illustrations, this book contains a sentimental love story about a Cuban cockroach who is looking for love with the help of her grandmother. I think that this short folktale could be used in several different ways within the elementary language arts classroom. One way would be to use this during a read aloud I would highly recommend this Cuban folktale to any third grade readers! This story has beautiful illustrations that I loved looking at throughout the story. In addition to its breathtaking illustrations, this book contains a sentimental love story about a Cuban cockroach who is looking for love with the help of her grandmother. I think that this short folktale could be used in several different ways within the elementary language arts classroom. One way would be to use this during a read aloud to your students who are in third grade or below. This is a Cuban folktale retold by the Cuban author, Carmen Deedy, and would be a great way to incorporate diverse, multicultural literature into your classroom. You could potentially do a unit on books centered in different cultures around the world and show students where each story comes from on a map. This would grow their love of multicultural literature while expanding their knowledge about the world around them. Also, the story includes Spanish words in it that help the story progress. This could be beneficial to English Language Learners in your classroom. This book may represent aspects of their culture or language, giving them the chance to relate to the texts and share their experiences with the class. In addition to using this as a read aloud, you could use this book to teach students about the genre of folklore and the features that folktale stories have in them. For example, you could talk about the reason behind why on the cover where the author's name should be the words "retold by" are there instead of "written by". Students could use graphic organizers to compare folktales to other genres of literature during this lesson. This book was a WOW book for me because I have not read much multicultural literature, especially not folklore. This book opened my eyes to how beautiful stories from other cultures are and how important it is for me as a future educator to read more diverse literature! I also loved these illustrations and would love to find more literature illustrated by Michael Austin.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Suffridge

    This book is an adorable complex picture book that falls under the folklore category that I would use in a K or 1st grade classroom. This story is incredibly cute and tells the story of a young 21-day old cockroach named Martina who is looking for a suitor to marry. After receiving advice from her grandmother, Martina spills coffee on the shoes of all of her suitors in order to discover their true character until she is able to find someone for her. I would use this book as an interactive read This book is an adorable complex picture book that falls under the folklore category that I would use in a K or 1st grade classroom. This story is incredibly cute and tells the story of a young 21-day old cockroach named Martina who is looking for a suitor to marry. After receiving advice from her grandmother, Martina spills coffee on the shoes of all of her suitors in order to discover their true character until she is able to find someone for her. I would use this book as an interactive read aloud in either a kindergarten or 1st grade classroom. This is when students are first learning to comprehend and understand texts, as well as learning the sounds of letters and beginning to learn to read. Comprehension is such a huge part of reading fluency, and I believe that the exciting, silly, and engaging nature of this story would make for a funny and comprehensive read aloud to young elementary students. In addition, it could launch a science discussion on insects. While this book does not discuss any scientific aspects of cockroaches or insects, it would still be a fun way to get students interested in the topic of bugs and insects that we would study during our science block. This was a wow book for me because of the cute nature of the story. It was a very unique and original tale that I as a 21 year old enjoyed reading. In addition, this book has references to Spanish culture and also comes in a Spanish version for Spanish speakers. I think this was especially wow to me for this reason, being that it would be an easy and fun way to integrate other cultures into the classroom and even finding a direct way to incorporate the Spanish culture that is so present in our classrooms today and expose all of our students to it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Katie Clark

    Reading folktales is a great way to introduce other cultures to young people. If you are tired of reading the same old clichés in children’s stories, Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale by Carmen Agra Deedy won’t disappoint. This story has beautiful, vibrant illustrations that give the cockroach characters and their world liveliness. The story uses some Spanish words as well, which is a fantastic way to start introducing children to another language. The personification of Reading folktales is a great way to introduce other cultures to young people. If you are tired of reading the same old clichés in children’s stories, Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale by Carmen Agra Deedy won’t disappoint. This story has beautiful, vibrant illustrations that give the cockroach characters and their world liveliness. The story uses some Spanish words as well, which is a fantastic way to start introducing children to another language. The personification of cockroaches is humorous, and children will love seeing the world from a cockroach’s point of view. I admit that I am not so fond of cockroaches, but I thought that the depictions of the cockroaches in this book were charming. Who knows, maybe if children grow up reading this book they won’t develop the same phobia I have! Toward the beginning of the story, Martina’s grandmother gives Martina some advice to find a partner. She says that she should spill coffee on a suitor’s shoe, so that she can see how he treats her when he loses his temper. I think this is such a fabulous piece of advice, and it is so different from advice that the typical princess story provides. This story would be a great addition to an elementary school classroom. I think that this story would be most appropriate for grades 2-5. This story would be a great part of a lesson about folktales from around the world. Students can choose several different folktales and analyze the moral, and compare and contrast stories. Martina the Beautiful Cockroach is not only a great example of a high quality multicultural book, but it also has a great moral. I highly recommend this book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jenifer Neilsen

    Audience: Primary Genre: folktale Golden Sower 2011 nominee Pre-reading strategy: Think-pair-share (a collaborative learning strategy in which students work together to solve a problem or answer a question) with think aloud ("hearing someone's thinking." In this strategy, teachers verbalize aloud) This is a sweet story retelling a traditional Cuban folktale. It is time for Martina to get married and her adored grandmother gives her some unusual advice in how to pick the right suitor using coffee Audience: Primary Genre: folktale Golden Sower 2011 nominee Pre-reading strategy: Think-pair-share (a collaborative learning strategy in which students work together to solve a problem or answer a question) with think aloud ("hearing someone's thinking." In this strategy, teachers verbalize aloud) This is a sweet story retelling a traditional Cuban folktale. It is time for Martina to get married and her adored grandmother gives her some unusual advice in how to pick the right suitor using coffee beans. The story goes through several different animals and their reaction to Martina's test. Until one animal, a mouse, is left. Maybe he is the one for Martina. In the classroom, I would use two strategies with this story. I would begin with a think aloud as I looked through the first several pages and the title. I would discuss the use of Spanish in the book and how it enhances the mood or feeling of the book. I would also use a vocabulary strategy of listing the Spanish words with their meaning either as a list on the Smartboard or on index cards. I would move to a think-pair-share to brainstorm other folktales and also define characteristics of a folktale. Then I would give each of the groups a different section of the book with the different suitors, using the discussion questions of how they think this animal react to Martina's test and if he will be successful or fail. At the end, we would share in the order of the animals in the book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kayla

    I love Martina, I think it's a lovely idea making the main character a "beautiful" Cockroach, what an oxymoron! Martina is trying to find a life partner and she looks to her Grandmother for wisdom in to choose one of her many suitors. Her Grandmother suggests spilling on each suitor's shoes in order to see their true colors. As a female, I loved this concept. Anyone can be charming and at their best, everyone can seem like a good match. But everyone handles anger and frustration differently and I love Martina, I think it's a lovely idea making the main character a "beautiful" Cockroach, what an oxymoron! Martina is trying to find a life partner and she looks to her Grandmother for wisdom in to choose one of her many suitors. Her Grandmother suggests spilling on each suitor's shoes in order to see their true colors. As a female, I loved this concept. Anyone can be charming and at their best, everyone can seem like a good match. But everyone handles anger and frustration differently and that's when you see someone's real personality. I think this is a great book for young women. Maybe middle school age when they start to become interested in boys. It's important to see people for more than just pretty words. You also have to pick your friends based on who they really are, not something superficial like being "cool." It would be a good teaching text for a character trait lesson in the middle grades. Its also a wonderful text in lower grades to compare characters and character traits. I would also use this text with a Cause and Effect lesson. How did each characters react to getting their shoe's all wet? I also loved this book for the bilingual aspect, many words were in spanish. I also liked that the 'adult' was her Grandmother, not a parent. I know several children who don't live with a mom and dad. There are so few stories with alternative families and this was a lovely example of one.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Oh how I love this book, let me count the ways! 1. The illustrations, by Michael Austin, are beautifully, vibrantly and lushly colored with fun details for readers to examine. The scene of Martina's room is a prime example with a spoon as a mirror, a postage stamp as a poster, and a spool of thread as a stool. 2. The language is perfect for reading aloud with Deedy's phrases just tripping off the tongue - I cannot get enough of saying "Martina Josefina Catalina Cucaracha, Beautiful muchacha, Oh how I love this book, let me count the ways! 1. The illustrations, by Michael Austin, are beautifully, vibrantly and lushly colored with fun details for readers to examine. The scene of Martina's room is a prime example with a spoon as a mirror, a postage stamp as a poster, and a spool of thread as a stool. 2. The language is perfect for reading aloud with Deedy's phrases just tripping off the tongue - I cannot get enough of saying "Martina Josefina Catalina Cucaracha, Beautiful muchacha, Won't you be my wife?" I also love the interspersing of well-selected Spanish words that add to the Cuban flavor without obscuring the story for non-Spanish speakers. 3. The puns! The glorious puns! Don Gallo, the rooster, is too cocky for Martina. Don Lagarto, the lizard, is too cold-blooded. Don Cerdo, the pig, is a ham. I love it! 4. The big, gooey romantic story itself with some extra morals about being yourself and how actions are what really matter rather than looks. I know stories don't have to have a moral to be good, but I love this moral and I don't think it detracts from the story 5. The fact that this adapts with very little effort from Deedy's language for storytelling. 6. Martina and Abuela's sassy personalities. The one thing I don't love about this book - where's the story and/or cultural note?

  28. 5 out of 5

    Madison Cosby

    Martina the Beautiful Cockroach is a Cuban Folklore. This book about a Cockroach who is ready to choose a husband, and goes searching for potential suitors while using some advice given to her by her grandmother, would be good for a 3rd grader to read. It is a very sweet story. I would personally use this book in my classroom as a fun read aloud. Discussion could occur around how Martina made her decision, and whether or not the students agree with her grandmother's advice. This book could also Martina the Beautiful Cockroach is a Cuban Folklore. This book about a Cockroach who is ready to choose a husband, and goes searching for potential suitors while using some advice given to her by her grandmother, would be good for a 3rd grader to read. It is a very sweet story. I would personally use this book in my classroom as a fun read aloud. Discussion could occur around how Martina made her decision, and whether or not the students agree with her grandmother's advice. This book could also be used instructionally to talk about culture and traditions. Because the book is about the advice the Grandmother gives, and how that is the way she learned, and then the similarity she had to Perez the mouse in regards to the tradition their grandmothers taught them. It could lead into discussion about traditions and similarities in the cultures in the classroom. Even though this book could be read independently on the 3rd grade level, I would most likely do it as a read aloud because I think it is a great interactive book. Any picture book that can make me smile, keep me engaged, or intrigue me is a wow book for me. This book did that all. It was adorable and sweet. I also have Cuban grandparents so it made me laugh thinking about things they have told me before. It was a very sweet story and definitely a WOW book for me.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rebekah Craven

    Folklore This is the story of a young cockroach who has reached the age where she needs to pick a partner for marriage. She is given many gifts to prepare her for her selection, but her grandmother gives her advice to help her find the truly suitable and worthy match. This book could be used for grades k-5th and used as a read aloud to teach the genre of folklore, but also to introduce cuban/hispanic culture to your students. I love how cute and humorous this story is and I also really like how Folklore This is the story of a young cockroach who has reached the age where she needs to pick a partner for marriage. She is given many gifts to prepare her for her selection, but her grandmother gives her advice to help her find the truly suitable and worthy match. This book could be used for grades k-5th and used as a read aloud to teach the genre of folklore, but also to introduce cuban/hispanic culture to your students. I love how cute and humorous this story is and I also really like how it infuses Spanish phrases and words along with English to tell the tale of a young cuban cockroach. I think this story would really appeal and be appreciated by Spanish speaking students to help highlight their culture, language, and traditions, as well as help these students feel appreciated and proud of their backgrounds. I think it would be a lot of fun to use this book for art and have students take on different roles in the story to act out in theatre form. I believe this book is a WOW book because it takes a different culture, one that is often overlooked and not commonly written about, and helps students enjoy a fictional story that creatively infuses different cultural aspects within. I also think it would be a great story to use to teach about characters, setting, theme, problem and solution, purpose, and other literary skills that are highlighted throughout.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Edwards

    Martina is a twenty-one day old cockroach, but she is ready to find a husband. This cuban folktale follows Martina's interactions with various suitors thanks to advice from her abuela (grandmother). What I love most about this story is it's simplicity. It follows a basic pattern: Martina is looking for a husband, three suitors come along, and she spills coffee on their shoes to see their reactions. The author, Carmen Agra Deedy, thoughtfully introduces the reader to some Spanish words and to Martina is a twenty-one day old cockroach, but she is ready to find a husband. This cuban folktale follows Martina's interactions with various suitors thanks to advice from her abuela (grandmother). What I love most about this story is it's simplicity. It follows a basic pattern: Martina is looking for a husband, three suitors come along, and she spills coffee on their shoes to see their reactions. The author, Carmen Agra Deedy, thoughtfully introduces the reader to some Spanish words and to puns (i.e. the pig suitor is too boorish for Martina). The illustrations are also top notch: large, colorful, and expressive. This book is an awesome read aloud; I actually read it to one of my eighth grade classes for fun, and they were delighted! I could see it being used in lower school as a way to introduce students to other cultures' folktales. It would be an engaging mini-literature circle activity to explore similar content in various cultures' stories. I am planning to use this book again with my eighth graders in the spring when I introduce Romeo and Juliet-- not only to introduce the idea of a love story, but also to get students comfortable with puns and unfamiliar language.

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