Blancaflor: The Hero with Secret Powers – A Folktale from Latin America, by Nadja Spiegelman/Illustrated by Sergio García Sánchez/Introduction by F. Isabel Campoy, (Sept. 2021, TOON Books), $16.95, ISBN: 9781943145553
I love getting a new TOON Book to review, and I love when simultaneously publish Spanish and English versions, so my Corona families can enjoy them together! Blancaflor is a graphic novel retelling of a Latin American fairy tale. Blancaflor is the daughter of an ogre who’s been playing a long game with a not-so-bright prince who accepts a foolish bet. Blancaflor intervenes on the prince’s behalf, quietly saving the day, while the prince thinks he’s just that lucky. Eisner award nominee Nadja Spiegelman (Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure) and artist Sergio García Sánchez breathe new life into this folk tale, giving it a sense of humor and decidedly feminist spin. It also quietly addresses the “invisible labor of women”, and how we rarely take credit for our accomplishments without being nudged. The colorful story is compulsively readable, and Blancaflor is a heroine we can all cheer for as she outsmarts her father and saves the day for her beloved. A note from Nadja Spiegelman expands on the “Girl as Helper in the Hero’s Flight” story that shows up in many folktales worldwide, and the history of the Blancaflor story in Latin American tales. An intro in the beginning touches on how we update fairy tales for the 21st century and offers ideas for storytellers to create their own tales. This is the kind of graphic novel my library kids need.
Blancaflor has been chosen as one of the New York Times Best Children’s Books of 2021, and has a starred review from The Horn Book. It’s the next installment in the Folktales from Latin America series, available in both Spanish and English editions.