Watch Out for Clever Women / Cuidado con las mujeres astutas

By Kirkus Reviews

Doubled in size from its original 1994 edition, this dual-language collection of classic folktales from the Southwestern United States will entertain and aid those studying Spanish. An old lady tricks the thieves who would steal from her. A young girl teaches her dishonest father a lesson in manners. A wife outwits her foolish husband along with the gold robbers who would hurt him. A lawyer’s subterfuge is turned against him by an Indigenous mother. A beautiful teenager hounded by suitors scares them away and earns herself a bit of freedom. All 10 of these tales have two things in common—the Southwestern culture from which they hail and the comeuppance meted out by determined women seeking to survive and thrive in the face of adversity. At once a fun language lesson and a feminist story collection, this serves as a good introduction to folklore that celebrates the poor in the face of hardship. The stories are simple and sparse. Their settings are vague (long ago and faraway). The characters are stereotypical. Yet this is the style of folktales; the cautionary stories are meant to leave stark images and simple themes that teach a moral lesson. Author Hayes does a fine job researching the oral traditions (endnotes speak to the variations, echoes, and origins of each theme). His Spanish translations are rich, well-recorded, and easy to cross-reference, as they face English pages. Quaint black-and-white illustrations by Hill are a nice bonus at the beginning of each story. A fine collection.