Bolivian children´s author, Gladys Dávalos Arze
Publicado en el boletín de la American Cooperative School en noviembre de 1991 – Vol.III No.1
One of the pleasures of the Library Media Educators Association General Conference at ACS (American Cooperative School) in La Paz this November was getting to know new local children´s literature people. One of these was a Bolivian children´s author, Gladys Dávalos Arze.
The following is a summary of “La muela del diablo y otros cuentitos diferentes” by Gladys Dávalos Arze:
“La muela del diablo is a book” of 26 pages, beautifully and colorfully illustrated by Aída Arze Méndez in which five wonderful fairy tales are told.
The first one, from which the book has got its name, “La muela del diablo”, is dedicated to La Paz, to that marvelous landscape of the same name, south of the city, and to the paceño kids especially. Children are intrigued and fascinated by the “Muela del diablo”, a mountain to which they make long walks and excursions. They ask themselves one and thousand questions about the rare formation of the mountain. “La muela del diablo” is probably not the answer to any of them, but it could be. Anyway, children´s fantasy mixes with reality and that soon fires their imagination. Children find the adventure with dinosaurs fabulous and enjoy helping (emotionally) the young dinosaur of the story defend his valley.
“La niña y el espejo”, the second tale, talks about the complex problem of adoption. Many Bolivian kids have been adopted lately by foreign couples and some of them have even been taken away to far away countries. Children, not only the adopted ones, should face this problem. The story stimulates them to get involved, to reflect upon it. It is a “classic” tale, with the known symbolism that uses “kings” and “queens” to represent parents, and mirror to represent self-critics, etc.
“El conejito llorón” is the name of the third tale written to incite rebellion in the hearts of male children. Slowly, but surely, girls and women are reaching their emancipation goals, forgetting that men are not prepared for that. Many of them don´t know to act or react in front of what we can call a “feminist” or “emancipated” woman. This tale tries to make it clear to boys, in magic form, what the famous saying “a man is not supposed to cry” means.
“Los quirquinchitos de las dunas de San Pedro” and “La triste historia de las tortuguitas que querían llegar a la luna”, are tales that, one at national level, the other one at world level, face the ecological problems on earth. The second one is an “antitale”, because it doesn´t have a “happy ending”. If mankind doesn´t do something about it, the mistreated earth (and all of us) are going to have a bad ending.