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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fuse 8 n’ Kate: Perez and Martina by Pura Belpre, ill. Carlos Sanchez

“Folktales! They don’t end the way you expect ’em to . . . if they’re authentic.”

If you are familiar with #ownvoices children’s books, then you know that these are titles where a book is written by someone with learned experience from the culture they are representing. We might have quite a debate over what the oldest #ownvoices picture book published in America is, that is arguably famous to this day, and that also is written by someone who wasn’t white and European. My vote goes to today’s book circa 1932. Sadly, it appears to be out of print. For that matter, ALL of Pura Belpre’s books look like they’re out of print, with the possible exception of Firefly Summer. Something wrong with that, people. In this episode Kate and I get to do all kinds of fun animal sounds. Particularly “Borom”. We’re very fond of “Borom”

Listen to the whole show here on Soundcloud or download it through iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, PlayerFM, or your preferred method of podcast selection.

Show Notes:

Lots of books get mentioned in this show. One of them that is discussed right at the top is the upcoming Goodnight, Bubbala by Sheryl Haft and Jill Weber. Coming this fall.

Here’s a link to that lamentable Washington Examiner piece The Baltimore Mayor Scandal Wouldn’t Have Happened If Modern Children’s Books Weren’t So Dumb. You kind find Nick Bruel’s response on Facebook.

Just a quick note that if you want a cool picture book that features Pura Belpre and here Perez and Martina puppets, check out The Storyteller’s Candle by Lucia M. Gonzalez.

Here’s the photo of Pura Belpre with her Perez and Martina puppets from Wikipedia.

Both Kate and I were unfamiliar with the spelling of “Portorican”. The internet was not able to provide much background on it. Information would be nice, if you have it.

Fair play to Kate for noticing that though Belpre’s text specifically says that Martina has “soft brown skin”, the artist chose to render her skin pink. Hrm hrm hrm hrm? Or was it a change made by the publisher?

Fair play to The Dragon Slayer by Jaime Hernandez for its take on the same folktale.

Question of the Day: What is Senior Frog wearing around his neck?

Regarding the Duck . . . Stoned or grimace of pain? You be the judge.

This is the image that Kate thought was just gorgeous in terms of the work that went into the colors here.

This is undoubtedly horrifying to come home to. His two little footsies sticking out of the pot.

And finally, the sun may be kind of a big deal, but sassy he is not.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. The Pura Belpre pictures are so beautiful and evocative of the era and of her culture. Leonard Marcus’s new “The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter” includes a section about her pioneering work. It is appalling that it is out of print. Movements for change need to also look to the past; I’m sure everyone committed to true diversity in children’s books would love to see these available again.
    Goodnight Bubbala is on my Hanukkah list! I’ve never been a fan of the snarky rewrites, such as “Go the (bad word) to Sleep,” although I empathize with exhausted parents. This book looks funny, filled with insider humor, but accessible to everybody and, most of all, a sincere homage to the irreplaceable original.

  2. To answer the question of “What will they do with ‘goodnight nobody’?” — will they instead say “Goodnight Elijah”??

    Also, I think what Senor Frog is wearing is an ascot or stock-style cravat.

  3. Stephanie, I can pretty much assure you that no Jewish child would say “Goodnight Elijah,” even in a parody, because it would not make any sense and would not be funny.

    • I do apologize. I did not mean it to be funny, but I thought of the idea of reserving a space for Elijah might be the replacement. If even that doesn’t make sense, I do apologize again for being thoughtless and insensitive.

  4. That’s o.k., Stephanie. The book looks adorable. No Elijah, but the mouse does seem to be wearing a yarmulke. That’s reliably cute and funny.

  5. Laura Bultman says:

    Two quick thoughts:
    Rice, coconut milk, and sugar, etc. make arroz con leche.

    In Spanish, the rooster crows with ki-kiri-ki, sort of like the German rooster in this video:

    Thanks, as always, for the fun podcast!

  6. Senior Frog is wearing a string tie.

    The standard US spelling for the island was Porto Rico until Congress changed it in 1932; I’m guessing Belpre (or, more likely, her publishers) used the spelling that would have been familiar to most Anglophone Americans. Some of the history is laid out in this article: