Hispanic Heritage Month is finally here, and as a Latinx myself, I’ve always wondered what those bedtime stories our parents use to read to us as kids would look like if we sprinkled some Latin American culture into the mix. To celebrate the start of this month’s national observance, here are three stories of our youth retold through the cultural lens of Hispanic representation.
1. Little Red Riding-Hood
We all know how the story goes: Little Red makes her way to meet her bed-ridden grandmother when Big Bad Wolf enters the picture in hopes of having her for lunch (I’m guessing three little pigs weren’t enough). Now, forget everything you know about this tale and add a little Spanish folklore into the mixture. Enter a young girl named Rosa who sports a red poncho. She is instructed by her abuela not to wander off as she leaves to fetch the ingredients for empanadas. On her way to the supermarket, Rosa grows tired from walking in the summer heat; that is, until she spots a pocket-sized pup with sparkly eyes and fur so shiny that it hurts your eyes just to look at.
Seeing as it was without an owner, she chases after it, though it doesn’t take long until Rosa finds herself lost in the middle of the woods; however, that seems to be the least of her worries. Her eyes widen when she spots the dog once again, but she notices something around the dog’s neck she hadn’t before – a collar! As Rosa inches closer, she reads aloud the name engraved on the animal’s nameplate: Cuco. Rosa thinks that she’s heard the name mentioned in a story before, but she can’t quite recall from where, or why she got the feeling it was somehow important.
As she leans down to offer pets, the dog barks in delight, but something strange begins to occur. The adorably innocent dog Rosa once knew bubbles into a dark and grotesque, red-eyed figure that bears resemblance to that of a wolf. Shocked from the transformation, Rosa shrieks in horror and sprints away from the disastrous scene that had taken place. “You should have never wandered off alone, nena!” The figureless creature roars not far behind a petrified little Rosa, who looks over her shoulder now and again before she stumbles over her ankles and eats dirt.
After recollecting herself, the girl hobbles to her feet where her abuela suddenly appears with a hand on her hip and a strange expression. “What took you so long, nena? You’ve gotten your red poncho all dirty!” Rosa, confused and at a loss for words, quickly scans the area to find that she was in front of her abuela’s house, with a bag full of ingredients in-hand before turning back to face the elderly woman. Hold on– did abuela’s eyes always look that red? And when did her teeth get so big? “Well, ni importa. Let’s prepare for dinner– it’s already getting dark,” her abuela says. She leads Rosa into the house before shutting the door and quickly drawing the curtains as the scene cuts to black…
Moral of the story, don’t go wandering off by yourself or El Cucuy will get you, and definitely don’t wear a poncho in the summer.
2. Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Alright, alright. That last story was a little scary, but I promise to make it up to you all with this next tale. Let’s go with the normal storyline for this section, except that the star of the role is named Angelina, and she wears two long, black braids, so everyone calls her Trenzalina.
Once upon a time, there were three bears, or osos: Mamá, Papá, and Osito, who lived in a cottage not too far from town. For breakfast, Mamá Oso decides to prepare Osito’s favorite dish – arroz and frijoles! When she’s finished cooking, the family of bears join together at the kitchen table, ready to fill their empty stomachs. Mamá, however, warns her son that the food is still too hot to eat, but Osito is only seven. In what world would any child heed to their parents’ warnings? So he says, “I can’t wait any longer!” as he takes a large scoop from his steaming plate and plops it into his mouth. “Too hot!” he shouts through a mouthful of beans. Well…duh.
On that note, Papá Oso suggests that they take a stroll into town to let the food cool, and so they make their way off. Cue in Trenzalina, who discovers the house behind a curtain of trees and, out of curiosity, knocks on the door (unlike Goldilocks, at least Trenzalina has some manners), only to find it already unlocked. Upon entering the home, the girl notices three plates of different sizes – small, medium, and large – resting on top of the kitchen table. Almost immediately did she recognize that warm smell of rice and beans; it also happens to be her favorite meal!
At this point, we all know how the rest of the original story goes, so let’s fast-forward to the part where the three bears return home to find their house had been tampered with, but more importantly, somebody’s been eating their food! After an inspection of the house, the smallest bear, Osito, peeps two little trenzas sticking out from under his bed covers. Tearing them away, he uncovers a little girl who wakes up to three angry osos peering down at her.
Now, in the real world, this situation would most likely end in sudden death, but luckily for Trenzalina, that is not the case. “You broke my chair, ate all my food, and now I find you in my bed!” Osito cries. Trenzalina feels a twinge of guilt in her chest, so to make up for her bad manners, she invites the bears over to eat with her family instead. The end.
Perhaps we should all learn from Trenzalina by owning up to our mistakes. But to be fair, we also probably shouldn’t enter someone’s house uninvited!
As one of the first classic princesses that became a Disney adaptation, I couldn’t not add this story to the trio. Here, we have our 19-year-old heroine turned from rags to riches after dealing with years of living under the abuse and tyranny of her evil step-mother and step-sisters. This is all thanks to the real MVP – her fairy godmother – and a glass slipper.
But let’s imagine this Cinderella story from a cultural point of view. What would it look like if Cinderella was hispanic? For one, there’s no way she’d allow mice into her home, let alone talking mice. Hispanic Cinderella doesn’t play like that. Moving on. If Miss Ella had a fairy godmother, or a madrina, I’m pretty sure said godmother would offer more support in her life than just a glow-up. But hey, all’s well that ends well, right?
Speaking of which, spoiler alert: the girl gets to marry Prince Charming (No, not the one from Shrek). But before that can happen, she has to actually attend the ball first. One thing Disney Cinderella and my Cinderella have in common is their tardiness. As many hispanics may know, it has become something of a cultural trademark to arrive fashionably late to events. Don’t ask me why, I don’t make the rules.
As for the ball itself, well, it wouldn’t be a party without the heavy array of meat-based food. While we’re at it, throw in a little bit of Bachata, Cumbia, or some Latin pop, and you’ll have people on the dance floor in minutes. When hispanics throw a party, expect it to last until three in the morning, which means Cinderella won’t be going home anytime soon!
Thanks for reading! If you’re interested in more content like this, take a look at Bookstr’s Reimagining Classic Stories With Gay Heroes.
For book recommendations to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, click here.