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<< Back to Dance, Nana, Dance /
Baila, Nana, Baila

Dance, Nana, Dance /
Baila, Nana, Baila

Críticas 5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars
*STARRED REVIEW* These 13 bilingual folktales introduce readers to Cuban classics, which are, in turn, heavily influenced by Spanish, African, and Caribbean cultures. The entertaining collection present readers with a variety of colorful characters, such as a blue bird with gold wings, a yam that terrifies the bravest man in the army, an old lady who can dance for days, an old devil who leaves hairy footprints as he walks, a boy who can never remember what his mother wants from the store, and the man who “had never done a day’s work in his life.”

Hayes’s language is characteristically expressive and descriptive in both languages. Some of the tales have a musical verse or two that will encourage listeners to join in during storytelling sessions. A bold pastel illustration that beautifully celebrates Afro-Cuban culture accompanies each story. The book includes an introduction, table of contents, and on the back pages, helpful notes to readers and storytellers, as well as background information on the stories. In this last part, the author provides connections to stories told by the Grimm brothers and Native Americans, as well as to African and Latin American folktales.

A great acquisition for upper elementary and middle school libraries, and an excellent resource for storytellers.
- November 1, 2008 
Kirkus Reviews
Lively, often funny and sometimes a bit scary.

Known for Mexican and Mexican-American stories, Hayes reaches beyond his usual borders and finds a strong new source of tales in Cuba. Thirteen stories are told on opposite pages in English and Spanish, ready to read aloud or to be tucked into storytellers’ repertoires. They are lively, often funny and sometimes a bit scary. Many different types appear: “Young Heron’s New Clothes” is related to the Anansi stories, “The Fig Tree” has elements of the Grimms’ “The Juniper Tree” and “The Gift,” a patakí, is a myth about the Orishas, the holy figures of the Afro-Cuban religion of Santería. The excellent notes at the end include references to the stories as they are found in different cultures. Sayago, a Cuban artist now living in the United States, provides bold paintings that appear to be done on textured paper and portray most of the human characters as Afro-Cubans.

Eminently tellable, all the stories have refrains and songs sure to get audiences joining in.
- October 1, 2008 
World Wide Work bulletin
A lively bilingual collection of 13 folktales from Cuba with the type of vivid color illustrations books from Cinco Puntos Press typically include.
- December 13, 2008 
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Renowned storyteller Hayes retells thirteen Cuban folktales in both English and Spanish, with facing pages presenting the English version on one side and the corresponding Spanish on the other. Folklore fans will find many of the stories’ elements familiar: tricksters abound, characters both good and bad receive their just rewards, and families are happily reunited. Elements more specific to Cuban culture are also present, as in the stories that feature the Orishas, the holy ones of the Afro-Cuban religion Santería. The accessibility of Hayes’ vivid but streamlined language coupled with rock-solid structure of the stories themselves (replete with the repetition and building of tension that tellers and listeners rely on) make this accessible both to young readers and to storytellers and other adult readers-aloud.

Humorous characters or situations (particularly evident in the last story, “You Can’t Dance”) further extend the entertainment value of the stories; brief songs appear in almost every story, and in his introduction Hayes encourages tellers to invent their own melodies for them. Sayago’s full-page paintings (one per story), painted in rich, saturated colors on what appear to be textured surfaces, offer stylized depictions of the tales’ featured animals and people. There is no bibliography or glossary, but there is a useful introduction in which Hayes describes his motivation and the general processes he used to collect and adapt the tales; unfamiliar words are defined within or at the end of each story, and lively notes for each story appear at book’s end.
- January 1, 2009 
Review of Texas Books
Unique and Entertaining Folktales

Joe Hayes, in the introduction of his book of Cuban folktales Dance, Nana, Dance / Baila, Nana, Baila, writes, “the most important thing is to have fun reading and telling stories.” Indeed, readers will have fun doing both with these unique and entertaining stories.

Each folktale in the collection is written in English and Spanish and illustrated by Cuban born artist Mauricio Trenard Sayago, who now resides in the United States. A full page illustration precedes each of the thirteen folktales and provides readers with a perfect visual reference for the stories that Mr. Hayes has taken care to retell in the Cuban tradition.

Mr. Hayes has also included a section at the back of the book titled “Notes to Readers and Storytellers,” which gives a short background for each retold story in this rich collection.
- July 9, 2009 
Tucson Citizen
This collection of Cuban folk tales is a delicious mix of stories passed down for generations. Hayes, who first visited Cuba in 2001, fell in love with the island and its people and that love is reflected in his delightful book. These are stories that are even better when read out loud.
- December 11, 2008 
REFORMA Newsletter
A captivating collection of thirteen folktales with influences from the Caribbean, Spain and Africa; Hayes has captured the essence and diversity of Cuba. Creation myths, legends and Pataki comprise this fascinating folktale anthology. Sayago’s illustrations are a visual feast adding to the cultural details. Helpful features of the book include the short Spanish glossary after each tale and the brief annotated bibliography. Perfect for teaching bilingual students or units on world myths in the classroom. Recommended.
- July 23, 2009 
The American Folklore Society: Aesop Prize commendation
Winner of the 2009 Aesop Prize
This colorful bilingual anthology of thirteen Cuban folktales has sabor, the flavor of the Caribbean, bringing the rich mixture of Spanish, African and American influences to his readers. Cuban folkloric wisdom and wit fill these pages. There is a rhythmic quality to the linguistic expression in both the English and Spanish narratives, reminiscent of the importance of rhythm in the Cuban way of life.
This colorful bilingual anthology of thirteen Cuban folktales has sabor, the flavor of the Caribbean, bringing the rich mixture of Spanish, African and American influences to his readers. Cuban folkloric wisdom and wit fill these pages. There is a rhythmic quality to the linguistic expression in both the English and Spanish narratives, reminiscent of the importance of rhythm in the Cuban way of life. The title tale, “Dance, Nana, Dance (Baila, Nana, Baila)” celebrates the central role of music on this Caribbean island. Twin boys play drums and sing, while a sorceress cannot help but dance until she is exhausted, enabling the boys to capture fire and bring it to the people. In “The Gift (El Regalo)” Hayes retells a patakí, a teaching tale about the Orishas, or the holy ones of Santería, which is the Afro-Cuban religion. Obbara, the most humble of the Orishas, is acknowledged for his ability to reveal the true worth of whatever gifts one receives in life, even if it is concealed in something that appears to have no value.

Joe Hayes based his retelling of the tales on manuscripts Cuban storyteller and musicologist Martha Esquinazi generously shared with him. His delivery exhibits his subtle sensibility and warmth for the people and folklore of Cuba, opening the way for cultural understanding to his audience. Whether in Spanish or English, the storytelling is engaging. Because the texts in the two languages are remarkably parallel, they render reading the tales a bilingual learning experience. This consistency in expression encourages language learners to acquire new phrases as well as new cultural perspectives. The illustrations by Cuban-born Mauricio Trenard Sayago not only reflect the influence of the folk art of his native island, but also add potency to the messages of the tales. The dynamic images convey Sayago’s profound belief in the power of art and its ability to educate and transform the individual and society.

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