The Old Man and His Door

This entertaining story is based on a Mexican song claiming that, to an old man, there’s no difference between la puerta (the door) and el puerco (the pig). This plump, white-haired man in his farmer’s overalls is a fine gardener who doesn’t listen carefully enough to his wife. (One can see why not; she’s rather bossy.) When she leaves for a neighbor’s barbecue, she tells him not to be late and to bring the pig. However, he’s in the middle of washing the dog, so she leaves first. Later he’s puzzled by why she wants him to bring a door, but he unscrews the front door and brings it anyway. The grinning pig watches him leave and looks happy not to be on the menu.

The door is comically awkward to carry, but it has many unforeseen uses on the way to the party. The good-hearted old man uses it to cheer up a crying baby, to protect himself from a swarm of bees, to offer a ride to a tired goose, to rescue a drowning boy and to help a young man load furniture into a truck. Each incident results in his gaining something of value. Thus, he is a wise fool: he brings lots of good food to the barbecue after all, and even a conciliatory kiss for his wife—the same kiss that the happy baby gave him.
 
The illustrations have bright, flat colors. All the people have chocolate-brown skin, and most of them, including the wife in her best dress, wear brightly colored sneakers. Kids will be amused by the improbability of a goose egg and two watermelons balancing near the edges of the door without rolling off. This tale begins with a glossary of the 19 Spanish terms used; it will appeal equally to children who already speak Spanish and those who do not.

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