The Magic Bean Tree: A Legend from Argentina
By Nancy Van Laan, illus Beatriz Vidal
Format: 32 pages; col illus.
Age Range: 4–8 years
Publisher: Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,1998
A young Quechuan boy sets out on his own to bring the rains back to his parched homeland and is rewarded by a gift of carob beans that come to be prized across Argentina.
From School Library Journal:
Kindergarten–Grade 5A. This “pourquoi” tale from the Quechua people of Argentina tells of the first tree in the world, a carob. … The theme of a small or weak animal or child who saves the people is eternally satisfying, and children can easily identify with the hero, although Topec's task is less arduous than some. Vidal's stylized paintings are dramatic and colorful, especially in the portrayal of the supernatural bird. One problematic element of this well-told tale is that although the carob (Ceratonia siliqua) is indeed so useful as to seem magical, it is not indigenous to the New World, and thus could not have been known to the Quechuas before the arrival of the Spanish. Also, the tree pictured often looks like a tamarind, also an Old World native.—APam Gosner, formerly at Maplewood Memorial Library, NJ
Ages 4–8. Similar to her work for Aardema's Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain (1981), Vidal's shimmering, folk art-style paintings are well matched to the elegant simplicity and drama of Van Laan's retelling. A glossary and list of sources are included. —Annie Ayres
From a reader:
…. a great group story time book to read out loud to a gathering, with drums maybe for the chanting parts. Fun vibrant illustrations and the glossary at the beginning allows the story itself to flow without being bogged down with explanations. The sources listed are an appreciated resource for folktale lovers. —Reader S. St. Pierre