Book review: Kiki Koki: La Leyenda Encantada Del Coqui, by Ed Rodriguez

Rodriguez, Ed. Kiki Koki: La Leyenda Encantada Del Coquí (Spanish Language). Roaring Brook Press, 2015. $17.99. 9781626721043. Ages 3-7. P7 Q9.

Rodriguez Kiki KokiKiki Koki: La Leyenda Encantada Del Coqui (The Enchanted Legend of the Coqui) is a brightly illustrated folk story belonging to the Taino, a native people of Boriken, the original name for what is now Puerto Rico. The Coqui refers to the golden coqui, a critically endangered species of tree frog whose habitat is restricted to certain pineapple-like plants found only in Puerto Rico. Though only known to science since 1976, this golden frog is the subject of traditional Taino legends, a society who inhabited Puerto Rico long before Columbus landed in 1492. Kiki Koki is an origin story of the golden coqui. A young Taino boy named Kiki Koki, or Koki for short, would rather have fun than help his village fish or pick fruit. As a consequence for his laziness, Koki is not allowed to celebrate at the Moon Festival. After almost drowning due to his pride, Koki is saved by two frogs. Koki then learns that he has been transformed into a tree frog—a golden, singing kind never seen before— by the Moon Goddess. Unfortunately, he must live in the frog village and prove a helpful member of society, or live forever as a tiny amphibian. The familiarity of this morality story is brightened by Rodriquez’s bold illustrations. His vivid colors and contrast produce weighty subjects that take up space on the page. Children will enjoy the large-eyed characters and charming depictions of island plants and animals. Kiki Koki is a popular story in Puerto Rico, but those unacquainted with the legend will appreciate a short history of the Taino people and origin of name Kiki Koki included in the back of the book. Children will enjoy the large-eyed characters and charming depictions of island plants and animals.

December 2015 review by Lillian Curanzy.

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