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Martina the Beautiful Cockroach


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About the Author

CARMEN AGRA DEEDY is an award-winning storyteller and the author of numerous bestselling books for children. Born in Havana, Cuba in 1960, she emigrated from her homeland during the Cuban Revolution, a move that has profoundly affected her life and her work. Her parents, strong proponents of human rights, decided to leave after four tumultuous years in the midst of a revolutionary environment. They took Carmen and her sister and found sanctuary in the United States under the JFK Cuban Refugee Act of 1963. They settled in Decatur, Georgia, where they coped with the separation from loved ones still in Cuba and slowly acclimated to cultural differences. The Agra family ultimately succeeded in starting over and rebuilding their lives. While Deedy's storytelling reflects these themes of separation and deprivation, she is better known for her razor-sharp wit and light, entertaining style. Also essential to Deedy's experience are her strong sense of perseverance and her dual heritage, drawn from growing up steeped in the riches of both Latin American and Southern culture.As a professional storyteller for many years Deedy has shared her stories with hundreds of thousands of children and adults at festivals, schools, conferences, theaters, and museums across the nation and across the ocean. She has performed at the Beyond the Border International Storytelling Festival at Donat's Castle in Wales; the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC; the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC; the Disney Institute in Orlando, FL; the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN; at the New Victory Theater on Broadway; and at the 2001, 2002 (where Deedy gave the Friday night keynote), and 2003 National Book Festivals in Washington, D.C. Her stories have also aired on National Public Radio's "Weekend All Things Considered." One of Deedy's most beloved titles, THE LIBRARY DRAGON, recently observed its tenth anniversary by taking to the stage. The screenplay was written by Deedy and has been performed in English and Spanish for both general and school audiences. Her most recent book, THE YELLOW STAR: THE LEGEND OF KING CHRISTIAN X OF DENMARK, is the winner of numerous awards including the 2002 Texas Bluebonnet Master List; 2001 Bologna Ragazzi Award; 2001 International Reading Association Notable Book for A Global Society; 2001 Jane Addams Peace Association Honor Book Award; and 2000 Parent's Choice Gold Award. Her earlier books are: AGATHA'S FEATHER BED: NOT JUST ANOTHER WILD GOOSE STORY; TREEMAN; THE LIBRARY DRAGON; THE LAST DANCE; and THE SECRET OF OLD ZEB. A CD/audiotape collection of her stories, GROWING UP CUBAN IN DECATUR, GEORGIA, was a 1996 Parents' Choice Gold Award Winner and was named Best Audiobook--Storytelling by Publishers Weekly in 1995.


The lovely Martina, ready to marry, follows her grandmother's peculiar advice-to spill coffee on her suitors' shoes and watch their reactions. The rooster proves too cocky, the pig too boorish, and the lizard too cold-blooded. Where does an attractive young cockroach turn next? To Perez, the mouse, whose unusual response wins Martina's affection. Color-drenched paintings transport readers to the tropics as Deedy, a consummate storyteller, brings out all the clever humor, in both English and Spanish, with unique voices for each hilarious creature in this 2009 Odyssey Honor title. Standard: Students will be able to recognize various folk tales and the cultures they represent. Learning Activity: Students can practice vocabulary words from the story in both English and Spanish and be able to define and use each word in a sentence. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

"Deedy's text sparkles with sly humor... The stunning acrylic illustrations are full of color, light, and humor... This wonderful book will delight children."
"Lively and funny... Fun to compare with other versions, this telling has magic all its own."
"Austin's cockroach dwelling is a desirable piece of real estate, with its stairs made of gum wrappers, its wrought-plastic comb railing, and its exclusive mid-Havana address (it's a lamppost). A friendly sprinkling of Spanish words, warmly drawn relationships and a lot of puns all widen the audience for this spirited story."
"Deedy's masterful retelling of this Latino folktale has a rollicking voice imbued with sly tongue-in-cheek humor. The acrylic illustrations, in a hyper-realistic style reminiscent of a softer William Joyce, are rendered in a vivid tropical palette. Shifting perspectives and points of view add vitality to the compositions, and facial expressions reveal both emotions and character traits. A scattering of Spanish words adds zest to this fine read-aloud."

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