The Smiling Burro, by Mary Esparza-Vela, with artwork by Mike Motz, is a sweet story about a boy and a burro. Raulito, a young boy in Mexico, finds a stray burro who quickly becomes his pet. As his pet burro, Pepito helps the family with their hauling chores. In return, Pepito is lovingly spoiled by little Raulito.
All goes well until one day Pepito goes missing. Who knows what has befallen him? Raulito is distraught and Papa fears Pepito has been stolen. They’ve almost given up hope when Grandpa comes to visit. Grandpa tells the children a scary ghost story to take Raulito’s mind off losing Pepito. The ghost story spooks the children, but then leads right into the happy ending. I don’t want to tell too much, but it’s my favorite part of the story!
The artwork by Mike Motz depicts family life in a small house on a mountain in Mexico. The cartoon characters are cheerful and colorful, and add to our reading pleasure. Children can describe Raulito’s home and compare it to their own homes. They will gain a better understanding of life in rural Mexico and contrast it with their life here in America.
Children will enjoy the story and can relate to loving and then losing a valued pet or a much-loved toy. Since this story will also be available in Spanish, it will help facilitate bi-lingual education. English speaking students can read the story in English and Spanish speaking students can read it in Spanish at the same time. Thank you, Mary Esparza-Vela, for this pleasing story which shows a boy’s love for his pet, and provides insight into another country’s culture and a different way of life.
Available from www.guardianangelpublishing.com/smiling-burro.htm