Since the spooky time of year is approaching, it would only be appropriate we include a book about one of the spookiest tales of Hispanic America as well as the American southwest: la llorona, or the weeping woman. This week, we will be reviewing Joe Hayes’ La Llorona/ The Weeping Woman. This book, which is best suited for kids in grades four to eight, is bilingual and can be used for non-native Spanish speakers who are starting out.
As the story goes, a very beautiful woman was determined to marry the most wealthy, handsome man possible. In order to be with this man, the young woman drowns her two children, and then kills herself later once she realizes what she has done. However, she cannot be admitted into Heaven until she finds her children; she is stuck in a permanent ethereal state. Some people say that she can be seen weeping along that river, asking where her children are, and taking children who resemble hers or who do not mind their parents. I should point out that while this legend is popular, Hayes tells a much milder version of the tale that is appropriate for young readers. In his version, Hayes uses soft language such as she “threw them into the river,” or he makes reference to the young woman, María, being married to the father of her children but drowning them because he pays more attention to them than to her. The illustrations used in this book are also very well done. They draw allusions to colonial Mexico and indigenous culture, which is also a plus considering that many believe this legend is that old.
Not only is this a spooky read, but it also brings forth some themes that are appropriate for children of this age to consider. First, there is the topic of her intertwined vanity and sexuality. María was prideful, certain that her physical beauty was so great it would always earn her the object of her desire. That clearly was not the case. Second, there is the idea of vengeance. We do not always get what we want, but it is not necessary to act out of vengeance. It is indeed unnecessary, and sometimes these acts can cost us as dearly as they did María.
If you decide to introduce La Llorona to your classroom, you might consider checking out the following websites as instructional resources: “The Role of Mexican Folklore in Teaching and Learning” and “The Spanish Conquest of Mexico and the Role of La Llorona.”
Well, I know this is a common legend with which most of us are familiar. Hopefully, you still give it try! Whether you decide to read it to your class or listen to Joe Hayes carefully tell the story in Spanish, it’s worthwhile!
Until Next Time,