Folklore of the Southwest and Mexico: An Annotated Bibliography
by Kat Avila, copyright © 1993

Children's Books

AARDEMA, VERNA. Borreguita and the Coyote: A Tale from Ayutla, Mexico. Illus. Petra Mathers. Trans. and retold from "El Borreguito y el Coyote" and "La Zorra y el Coyote," in Tales from Jalisco, Mexico, by Howard T. Wheeler, American Folk-Lore Soc. 35, 1943. New York: Knopf, 1991. Borreguita (Little Lamb) outwits a hungry Senor Coyote again and again, and thus saves her life.

—. Pedro & the Padre: A Tale from Jalisco, Mexico. Illus. Friso Henstra. New York: Dial, 1991. Lazy boy Pedro de Urdemalas is sent away by his father to learn how to work. He finds work and a home with a village priest, but starts to lie to cover himself whenever he neglects his chores. He tricks the priest out of his burro and hat, another man of 100 pesos for a "money" tree, and two traders of their 100 pesos for a magic bird that turns out to be a toad. But in the end, Pedro changes his ways when the angry traders bag him and threaten to drown him. He escapes and returns home to the priest a repentant boy.

—. The Riddle of the Drum: A Tale from Tizapan, Mexico. Illus. Tony Chen. Trans. and retold from "El Aro de Hinojo y el Cuero de Piojo," in Tales from Jalisco, Mexico, by Howard T. Wheeler, American Folk-Lore Soc. 35, 1943. New York: Four Winds, 1979. The king of Tizapan has a daughter whom he cares for very much. He asks a wizard to make a unique drum. Only the man who can guess what material the drumhead is made from will be able to marry the beautiful Princess Fruela. Prince Tuzan meets several very unusual people on his journey who offer to help him win the hand of the princess. Should the prince fail, he forfeits his life.

AVILA, ALFRED. Mexican Ghost Tales of the Southwest Houston: Arte Público, 1994. These stories originated from the oral tradition in the Mexican barrios of El Monte, California, that Avila grew up in. The book also includes original tales by the storyteller.

BAKER, BETTY. No Help at All. Illus. Emily Arnold McCully. New York: Greenwillow, 1978. West Chac, one of four Mayan rain gods, rescues a boy from a "man-eating thing" and puts the boy to work for him. The boy tries his best to help, but he only succeeds in making more work for the rain god.

BRENNER, ANITA. The Boy Who Could Do Anything, & Other Mexican Folk Tales. Illus. Jean Charlot. 1942. Reading, MA: Scott, 1970. Twenty-six tales divided into four sections: Story-telling in Milpa Alta; The Boy Who Could Do Anything (the half-god, half-human Tepozton); Things That Happened Long Ago; Tales of Magic, Black and White. In Milpa Alta, Dona Luz is the best storyteller. Many of her stories are about the heroic mountain boy Tepozton, who was raised by an old couple who found him in a box floating down a river. (NOTE: See trans. and ed. Fernando Horcasitas's Life and Death in Milpa Alta: A Nahuatl Chronicle of Diaz and Zapata, Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 1972, for a bilingual Nahuatl and English book based on the recollections of Dona Luz Jimenez who lived through the horrors of the Mexican Revolution.)

CAMPBELL, CAMILLA. Star Mountain, and Other Legends of Mexico. Illus. Frederic Marvin. 2nd ed. New York: McGraw, 1968. Twenty popular tales from different periods in Mexican history, including stories about the Aztecs' founding of Tenochtitlan (Mexico City), the Toltec priest-king Topiltzin-Quetzalcoatl, conquistador Hernan Cortes and La Noche Triste (the Sad Night), Juan Diego's miraculous meeting with Our Lady of Guadalupe, the ghost of Dona Marina (also known as Malintzin or Malinche), and the whimsical Chinese-slave origin of la china poblana (a national folk costume originally associated with the women of the city of Puebla).

CZERNECKI, STEFAN. Pancho's Piñata. New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 1992.

GARCIA, ANAMARIE. Illustrated by Francisco X. Mora. Coyote Rings the Wrong Bell: A Mexican Folktale. Adventures in Storytelling series. Chicago: Children's Press, 1991.

LATTIMORE, DEBORAH NOURSE. The Flame of Peace: A Tale of the Aztecs. New York: Harper, 1987. A picture book about a fictional Two Flint, a courageous Aztec boy who prevents a war between Emperor Itzcoatl and Tezozomoc by obtaining a torch of New Fire from Lord Morning Star (Quetzalcoatl). On his way to see Lord Morning Star, Two Flint outsmarts nine ferocious demons; one of them is the great Lord Smoking Mirror (Tezcatlipoca) himself. Lattimore's magnificent illustrations are adapted from studies of surviving Aztec codex art.

LATTIMORE, DEBORAH NOURSE. Why There Is No Arguing in Heaven: A Mayan Myth. New York: Harper, 1989. In a story fromm the Guatemalan Quiche Maya (who were originally from Mexico) and their sacred Popol Vuh (Book of Counsel), the almighty Hunab Ku, creator of the world, occupies his throne in the company of the Sun God, the Maize God, Lizard House, and the Moon Goddess. The latter two gods will not stop arguing over who is the greatest god after Hunab Ku. Hunab Ku issues a challenge: the god who can create a suitable worshipper is the next greatest god.

LYONS, GRANT. Tales the People Tell in Mexico. Illus Andrew Antal. Consulting ed. Doris K. Coburn. New York: Messner, 1972. The first tale is from the Popol Vuh about a perfect people who were created then destroyed because of their immodesty. The other 10 tales are of La Llorona (the Weeping Woman), animals, witches, how a rich woman's stinginess backfires, a son who does a very noble deed, a lifesaving purchase of good advice, the largest flea in the world, and an ash-seller's revenge against a rich trickster friend. The book also has a list of common Mexican sayings, two riddles, a glossary of Spanish words, and notes.

ROY, CAL. The Serpent and the Sun: Myths of the Mexican World. New York, Farrar, 1972. The eight Aztec myths cover the creation of the planet and the modern fifth sun, the first scorpion, the first maguey plants from the body of the goddess Mayahuel, the birth of the solar and war god Huitzilopochtli, Topiltzin-Quetzalcoatl's departure from Tula (ancient Tollan), the rain god Tlaloc and the paradise Tlalocan, and the great migration of the Aztecs to the lands south of them. The four other myths in the book are from the Maya, Mixe, and Huichol Indians.

WOLKSTEIN, DIANE. Lazy Stories. Illus. James Marshall. New York: Seabury Press, 1976. A tale each from Japan, Mexico, and Laos, with storytelling tips from Wolkstein. In "The Tatema" from Mexico, Mario is a man who does not like to work. He is so lazy he will not even work to pay back his storekeeper friend for all the free food he has been given. But one day Mario helps an old man stop a runaway horse and is rewarded with a tatema, a gift that "only the man God gives it to may keep." Mario pays the storekeeper for his food with silver coins from the tatema. The storekeeper gets greedy and decides to dig up Mario's treasure for himself. But the chests he finds are not filled with silver and he dumps the smelly filth at Mario's house. In the morning, however, when Mario opens his windows, silver coins come tumbling in.

General Reading

AIKEN, RILEY. Mexican Folktales from the Borderland. Fwd. Francis Edward Abernethy. Illus. Dennis Zamora. Dallas: S Methodist UP, 1980. These 49 tales come from southern Texas and northern Mexico. Aiken started collecting them in 1929. They were published by the Texas Folklore Society over a period of 30 years. The tales include familiar characters like Pedro de Urdemalas, Juan Oso, and Don Cacahuate.

ANAYA, RUDOLFO A. The Legend of La Llorona: A Short Novel. Illus. Desolina. Berkeley: Tonatiuh-Quinto Sol, 1984. Malintzin is introduced to "the Captain" Hernan Cortes as the highly trained priestess daughter of a village chief, and not as one of 20 slave girls as actually happened (albeit she was of noble birth). The fictional character leaves her village willingly—out of love for the Captain—to become his interpreter under the name Malinche, a Spanish adaptation of her native name. She eventually marries the Captain and has twin sons who are secretly tutored by Aztec priests. With the arrival of the beautiful Princess Isabela from Spain and the Captain's plan to return to his homeland with his sons, the story of Malinche powerfully evolves into the legend of La Llorona (the Weeping Woman).

ANAYA, RUDOLFO A. Lord of the Dawn: The Legend of Quetzalcoatl. Fwd. David Johnson. Albuquerque: U of New Mexico P, 1987. A Jesus-like Quetzalcoatl (Feathered Serpent) walks into the city of Tollan and becomes a threat to the warrior-dominated Toltec empire led by Lord Huemac. Is Quetzalcoatl just another priest or a god? In either case, Lord Huemac must bring Quetzalcoatl under his control or do his best to destroy this priest of the Sun.

ARAGON, RAY JOHN DE. The Legend of La Llorona. Illus. and technical design by Rosa Maria De Aragon. Las Vegas, NM: Pan American, 1980. A love affair between a poor woman and a rich man ends in tragedy when the man refuses to marry her and she murders their illegitimate children. The book also has an essay about wailing and crying woman figures from other cultures, such as the banshee in Gaelic folklore and the Aztec goddess Cihuacoatl (Snake Woman).

BIERHORST, JOHN, ED. The Hungry Woman: Myths and Legends of the Aztecs. With illus. by 16th-century Aztec artists. New York: Morrow, 1984. Twenty-seven Aztec and other Mexican narratives retold by a scholar of American Indian literature. The narratives are divided into "Creation Myths," "The Fall of Tula," "The Founding of Mexico," "In the Days of Montezuma," and "After Cortes." Bierhorst's introduction reviews the documentation of Aztec history and religion by the first missionaries, the five ages or "suns" of Aztec history, Quetzalcoatl (Feathered Serpent) and Tezcatlipoca (Smoking Mirror), Aztec goddesses, and Aztec verbal art forms.

BRIGGS, CHARLES L., and JULIAN JOSUE VIRGIL, eds. The Lost Gold Mine of Juan Mondragon: A Legend from New Mexico Performed by Melaquias Romero. Tucscon: U of Arizona P, 1990. Treasure hunger Melaquias Romero from Cordova, New Mexico, hopes to one day rediscover the secret gold mine of sheepherder Juan Mondragon. The sheepherder's untimely death was a great disappointment to some of Romero's relatives to whom the location of the mine was to have been revealed. The Spanish transcription and the English translation of Romero's account about the mine (1-1/2 hours long) are published with storytelling details of the gestures Romero used and the vocal changes he made. Additionally, information about the region where Romero lives and of the legend narrative tradition in Hispanic folklore is provided.

BULLOCK, ALICE. Living Legends of the Santa Fe Country. Denver: Green Mountain, 1970. An armchair exploration of New Mexican pueblos and towns through their histories, treasured patron saints, religious miracles (from Chimayo's healing dirt to the ubiquitous Blue Lady of Spain), Indian myths and traditions, and ghost stories. The 23 feature stories are accompanied by black-and-white photographs.

CAMPOS, ANTHONY JOHN, trans. and ed. Mexican Folk Tales. Illus. Mark Sanders. Tucson: U of Arizona P, 1977. These tales were told to Campos's godmother by her grandmother from Santa Maria, Jalisco. The stories are divided into three groups. Under the heading "Legends of the Devil" are humor-filled stories of mischievous devils who are bested by their supposed victims. But in one story, a devil with a conscience voluntarily comes to the aid of a dying elderly woman. "The Strange Doings of the Saints" are about people's encounters with the divine and holy, frequently in the person of Senor San Antonio (Saint Anthony) or Santo Nino de Atocha (Holy Child of Atocha). "The Foibles of Man and Beast" are stories contemptuous of the foolish and the greedy; they acknowledge the meaner side of life.

DAVIS, E. ADAMS. Of the Night Wind's Telling: Legends from the Valley of Mexico. Illus. Dorothy Kirk. Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 1946. Twenty-seven richly detailed accounts of Mexican legends from pre-colonial times up to the Mexican Revolution. Two neatly handdrawn maps of Mexico City and the valley of Mexico indicate the sites the legends are associated with. In between the story of the Aztec creator god Ometecuhtli and the legend of Emiliano Zapata, the inhabitants of New Spain—the clever viceroy, dignified senora, greedy merchant, scrutinizing senorita, ardent suitor, disenfranchised Indian, and more—come alive again.

DOBIE, J[AMES] FRANK. Puro Mexicano. Texas Folklore Soc. 12. 1935. Dallas: S Methodist UP, 1969. Stories, border sayings and expressions, and corridos (folk ballads) contributed by a number of people. The book includes 26 of Riley Aiken's tales, all of which can also be found in Aiken's Mexican Folktales from the Borderland.

GRIEGO Y MAESTAS, JOSE, and RUDOLFO A. ANAYA. Cuentos: Tales from the Hispanic Southwest. Illus. Jaime Valdez. Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico, 1980. Twenty-three tales from southern Colorado and New Mexico that were originally collected by Juan B. Rael. Spanish and English versions of the tales run side-by-side in the book. In the back of the book is a glossary of regional Spanish idioms.

HUDSON, WILSON M[ATHIS], ed. The Healer of Los Olmos, and Other Mexican Lore. Illus. Jose Cisneros. Texas Folklore Soc. 24. 1951. Dallas: S Methodist UP, 1966. An essay by J. Frank Dobie about the quality of charms in folktales, especially Mexican tales; Ruth Dodson's 62 narratives about a turn-of-the-century folk healer, Pedro "Don Pedrito" Jaramillo; folktales; folk beliefs, and translated sayings collected the late 1940s by Soledad Perez from Mexicans living in Austin, Texas; and two stories collected by Hudson from the state of Jalisco.

MACLEAN, ANGUS. Cuentos: Based on the Folk Tales of the Spanish Californians. Illus. Ione Maclean Bowman. Fresno, CA: Pioneer, 1979. Forty-three stories collected by MacLean's grandfather, mother, and uncle who lived in central California. Part One is the story of a lustful señor who gleefully trades places with his buck goat with the Devil's help. Part Two is more of the Devil's tricks, and, also, miraculous and mysterious happenings, such as the dead man brought back to life through the incredible healing power of the sulfur springs of El Paso de los Robles. Tales of fantastical half-animal men and women can be found in Part Three. Part Four is Indian legends, included are two thinly disguised Christian legends, one of them in particular reflecting MacLean's belief about Jesus Christ and a legendary man of indigenous American tales are one and the same. Part Five is animal tales and stories about people who turn into animals. And, lastly, Part Six is a little bit of everything.

ONIS, HARRIET DE, trans. and ed. The Golden Land: An Anthology of Latin American Folklore in Literature. New York: Knopf, 1961. An anthology of great literature representing 44 Latin American writers whose stories incorporate folklore. Each story is preceded by a detailed biography of the writer.

PAREDES, AMERICO, ed. and trans. Folktales of Mexico. Fwd. Richard M. Dorson. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1970. An impressive collection of 80 stories, from a variety of sources, divided into "Legendary Narratives," "Animal Tales," "Ordinary Folktales," "Jokes and Anecdotes," and "Formula Tales." But you will not find one La Llorona tale here, excluded because of its popularity.

VAN ETTEN, TERESA PIJOAN DE. Spanish-American Folktales. Illus. Wendell E. Hall. Little Rock, AR: August, 1990. Twenty-eight New Mexican folkloric stories, some of which cannot be fully appreciated without consulting "Where the Stories Came From" in the back of the book. The text is set in a nice large typeface, which makes the book easy on the eyes and ideal for sharing with a literate youngster at bedtime.

Narrative Collections

ESPINOSA, JOSE MANUEL. Spanish Folk-Tales of New Mexico. American Folk-Lore Soc. 30. New York: American Folk-Lore Soc., 1937. One hundred fourteen Spanish-language narratives of mostly European origin collected during the summer of 1931 from northern and central New Mexican cities along the Rio Grande. English summaries and a listing of Espinosa's 43 informants (ages 12-100 years old) are at the end of the book.

HEISLEY, MICHAEL. An Annotated Bibliography of Chicano Folklore from the Southwestern United States. Los Angeles: Center for the Study of Comparative Folklore and Mythology, University of California, 1977.

MILLER, ELAINE K. Mexican Folk Narrative from the Los Angeles Area. American Folklore Soc. 56. Austin: U of Texas P, 1973. A reworked 1967 doctoral dissertation. Eighty-two of the 160 Los Angeles-area narratives that Miller collected are published. She used 27 informants and collected the material in about five months. The transcriptions of the narratives are in Spanish, but each begins with a synopsis in English. The collection is divided into legendary narratives and traditional tales, with a number of subdivisions.

RAEL, JUAN B[AUTISTA]. Cuentos Españoles de Colorado y de Nuevo Mejico (Spanish Tales from Colorado and New Mexico). 2 vols. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1957. About 500 narratives were collected from 1930-40 using 98 informants (ages 16-80 years old). However, not all of the stories from Rael's original collection have been reproduced in order to avoid duplicating those in other collections; this explains title numbers that jump a few places between stories. English summaries for both volumes are in the second volume.

ROBE, STANLEY L[INN], ed. Amapa Storytellers. Folklore Ser. 24. Berkeley: U of California, 1972. Fifteen narratives collected in 1959 from storytellers Cipriano Ramirez, Eduviges Reyes, and Camilo Villegas, all from the western Mexican village of Amapa, state of Nayarit. English summaries provided.

—. Hispanic Folktales from New Mexico: Narratives from the R. D. Jameson Collection. Fwd. Wayland D. Hand. Folklore Ser. 30. Berkeley: U of California P, 1977. Raymond De Loy Jameson and his students collected over 90 narratives from northeastern New Mexico communities. Much of the collecting was done in the early 1950s while Jameson was teaching at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas. The English-language collection is stored at the Center for the Study of Comparative Folklore and Mythology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Robe's book reproduces 204 animal tales and ordinary tales from that collection.

—. Mexican Tales and Legends from Los Altos. Folklore Ser. 20. Berkeley: U of California P, 1970. The blonde, blue-eyed criollos of Los Altos, Jalisco, are an ethnic subculture in Mexico. But, as Robe points out, the 218 narratives in this 1947 collection from 71 informants do not differ signficantly from other Mexican folktales and legends. English summaries of the Spanish-language text are provided.

—. Mexican Tales and Legends from Veracruz. Folklore Ser. 23. Berkeley: U of California P, 1971. Over 70 Spanish-language narratives gathered in the summer of 1965 from 29 informants in eastern Mexico. English summaries available.

WHEELER, HOWARD T. Tales from Jalisco, Mexico. American Folk-Lore Soc. 35. Philadelphia: American Folk-Lore Soc., 1943. Wheeler collected 226 narratives during the summer of 1930 (informants not identified). The titles and text are in Spanish, but the narratives are accompanied by a short summary in English. In transcribing these tales, Wheeler tried to preserve some of the phonetic characteristics of the Castilian Spanish spoken in Jalisco.