Sunday, December 18, 2022

Review - Fonchito and the Moon

Fonchito and the Moon

by Mario Vargas Llosa
illustrated by Marta Chicote Juiz
Date: 2010
Publisher: Kales Press
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: library

Don't miss your first Mario Vargas Llosa: Fonchito and the Moon.

Fonchito falls in love for the very first time and discovers that there is nothing one cannot do for a loved one, even if what they wish for is the moon!

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Somehow, I expected more from "one of the world's greatest writers". I don't know if something was lost in translation or what. But I found this cringey more than charming, and the abrupt ending didn't help.

Fonchito is obsessed with a little girl at school. He basically objectifies her, and he wants to kiss her on the cheek because she's pretty. (At least he asks permission.) Nereida, visibly embarrassed, sets the boy an impossible condition: If he wants that kiss, he has to bring her the moon.

The rest of the story is a little bit clunky, and I'm not sure if that's down to the translation or if the story itself is just weak. Fonchito figures out a way to bring Nereida the moon. The boy gets his kiss. The end.

There's something to be said for simplicity in picture books, but this goes so far beyond simple that it doesn't really have any substance. Fonchito only wants to kiss the girl because she's beautiful. Not because she's smart or strong or clever enough to try to thwart a horny little boy with a seemingly impossible errand. (I mean... she obviously didn't really want that kiss if she made the condition that difficult to achieve.)

The illustrations are sort of cute, but the story just isn't enough. The author's adult books may be great; I don't know. But being a good writer for adults doesn't automatically mean you'll be a great writer for kids. This picture book is a perfect example of that.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.5 out of 5

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