Friday, January 8, 2016

PPBF: Mediopollito

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

by Alma Flora Ada and Kim Howard
Mediopollito, Half-Chicken
Written by Alma Flor Ada
Illustrated by Kim Howard
Translated by Rosalma Zubizarreta
Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 1995
Age 5-9

Bilingual, folktale

Has vista alguna vez una veleta? Sabes de donde salio el gallito en la punta, un gallito que da vueltas para decirnos en que direccion sopla el viento?
Te lo voy a contar. Es un cuento viejo, viejisimo, que mi abuelita me conto. A ella se lo habia contado su abuelita. Dice asi . . .
Have you ever seen a weather vane? Do you know why there is a little rooster on one end, spinning around to let us know which way the wind is blowing?
Well, I'll tell you. It's an old, old story that my grandmother once told me. And before that, her grandmother told it to her. It goes like this . . .

Hace mucho, muchisimo tiempo, alla en Mexico, en una hacienda, una gallina empollaba sus huevos.
A long, long time ago on a Mexican ranch, a mother hen was sitting on her eggs.

Mediopollito, Half-Chicken is a retelling of the traditional Mexican folk tale. This origin tale explains how we got the roosters on our weathervanes. Though retold from Spain to Latin America, Alma Flor Ada has choosen to rewrite the Cuban version. In the story, the main character is hatched with only one leg, one wing, one eye. Mediopollito is only half a chicken. He embarks on a journey to find fame and meaning. During his travels he helps untangle the wind, frees the river from the jumble of branches in its path, and aids a fire from going out. When Medipollito reaches the town, he ends up in a cook pot. His friends the wind, the river, and the fire, help him escape. Flying to the tallest building in town, Mediopollito finally feels he has found his place, watching the world go by, but staying safe from its dangers. From then on, he remains atop the building, as do all weathervanes.

What I Love:
I love folktales and origin tales. This one is no exception. It is simple, with fantastic elements, like the anthropomorphic wind and fire. Although the story is completely fictional, it rings true for young readers because Mediopollito is determined not to let his limitations hold him back from following his dreams. The light-hearted folkart illustrations by Kim Howard reinforce the rich history of this story. The book is bilingual, a great way to introduce kids of all backgrounds to another language. The Spanish is beautifully lyrical, and the English telling is fun. Notes from the author are included in the edition I read.


Photo courtesy See What We Did Today
1. Take your readers on a trip around the world by reading folktales from other countries. Alma Flor Ada has more bilingual books and several collections of folk tales and nursery rhymes from Spanish speaking countries.
2. Find fun Spanish worksheets at Enchanted and plenty of resources for teachers on the author's website.
3. Shelly Palmer recommends 5 apps which introduce kids to Spanish.
3. Weather WizKids has weather themed jokes and science experiments for pre-school through elementary age students.
4. First-School has instructions for a handprint rooster on a stick which can be used as a puppet to act out the story.
5. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Vivian
Reviewed by Susanna

Reviewed by Tiffa
Reviewed by Joanne

Reviewed by Julie
Reviewed by Renee

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for January 8, 2016 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.


  1. Gosh, I like that cover! Thanks, Joanne!

    1. Kim's illustrations are just right for this book, but I had a hard time finding much about her on the internet. Enjoy the search.

  2. I never knew the story behind the rooster on the weather vane. I figured a rooster was chosen because it is the one in charge of waking the farmer and therefore was given this honor. It looks like I need to check out this book and learn more. Thank your for sharing!

    1. LOL I don't know how many facts you'll learn, but I guarantee you'll pick up a few tricks about good storytelling. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. What a gem! I love folktales and the fact it is bilingual is a bonus!

    1. I try to read as many folktales as I can get my hands on. This tale is also told by Eric Kimmel, but I am in love with this version.

  4. Joanna, great that you shared a bilingual picture book. I think this is a great addition to the PPBF lists.

    1. Thanks, I hope you can find a copy at your library.

  5. I love old traditional folk tales and this one bakes the cake with having it bilingual.Speaks for diversity in texts and picture books. Great selection.

    1. I really enjoyed the Spanish, though I had to cheat a few times and look at the translation.


Thank-you for taking time to share your thoughts!