Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The Three Golden Oranges


Over the coming weeks and months, MommyMaestra is going to try and feature a different children's book by a Hispanic author every week. I know there are a lot of great new books coming out now, but I also want to draw your attention to older books, which I will include, that have been on the market for a while but you might not have heard about. There are so many wonderful stories!  

Today, I'm starting off with Alma Flor Ada’s The Three Golden Oranges (aff link). Ada’s adaptation of the classic Spanish fairytale is spectacular with changes to the original story line that create a tale that flows simply and beautifully.

The story of three brothers who wish to marry and set out to find the woman of their dreams, they first visit the wise old woman who lives in a cave on the edge of a cliff. Spinning her wool, the old woman tells them how to find the brides that they are seeking. Naturally, two of the brothers (Santiago and Tomás) do not heed the old woman’s advice and promptly get into trouble, but the third, Matías, follows the directions as best he can and is eventually rewarded with the apparition of the kind and joyful, Blancaflor. The two quickly return to the castle to rescue both Matías’ brothers (trapped in the castle dungeon) and Blancaflor’s mother and sisters - who, along with Blancaflor, had been cruelly transformed into an orange tree with –tada! – three golden oranges!

Unlike most fairytale endings in which the handsome prince is rescuing the princess with his extraordinary strength, agility and dashing good looks, Three Golden Oranges emphasizes the value of honesty, selflessness, honor, and dedication. When asked what type of wife he wants, Matías asks for one who is "kind, joyful and someone I could love very much" as opposed to his brothers who desire wealth and beauty. And in a novel turn of events, it is the sweet Blancaflor who chooses Matías to be her husband, rather than the other way around! Yay! Altogether what a great message…and one that I hope to impart to my own son and daughter.


Set in rural Spain, the illustrations are fantastic. Reg Cartwright does a great job depicting the Spanish characters in both their attire and features (aquiline noses are just so Mediterranean – I should know!) And his colorful, rounded artwork vividly reflects the Spanish countryside and small towns with a folk art style.

I have an older ex-library copy that I used years ago with my now teenage children. But it is so special that I've kept it and am looking forward to reading it to my youngest when he is old enough.

This book is great for those studying Spain, world cultures, folktales, legends, family, and values.

For an additional activity, download a coloring page from the book here

Order your copy online:

Happy reading!

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