Perfect Picture Book Friday – Mañana Iguana

Perfect Picture Book Fridays are the creation of the lovely children’s book author Susanna Leonard Hill. Check in each week on Fridays for new book reviews. Susanna also has a complete list (alphabetically and by theme) of all the book reviews. It’s a wonderful resource if you’re looking for activities for a book, or books focused on a particular theme.

manana_iguanaTitle: Mañana Iguana

Author: Ann Whitford Paul

Illustrator: Ethan Long

Publisher: Holiday House

Year: 2004

Genre: Fiction picture book

Ages: 4-8

Themes: Working together; friendship; fairy tales & fables


On Monday, lunes, Iguana twitched her tail happily.

“Let’s celebrate spring with a party on Saturday.”

Conejo hopped up and down. “Yes! Let’s!”

Tortuga poked out of his shell.

“A fiesta? On sabado? Count me it.”

Culebra shook his rattle. “Me too!”

“Good!” said Iguana. “We must start right away. Who will help me write the invitations?”

Synopsis: (from publisher’s website) Iguana is planning a fiesta. Tortuga the tortoise, Canejo the hare, and Culebra the snake all want to come, but they don’t want to help. The lazy trio lose out in this clever update of the story of the Little Red Hen with a Mexican twist. Glossary of Spanish words.

What makes it great: This unique retelling of The Little Red Hen story, set in the desert and featuring Spanish-speaking desert animals, is at once familiar and fresh.

What readers notice: My 3-year-old really loved this story. She latched on to the Spanish words and has been calling one of her stuffed animals ‘Culebra.’ As a parent, I liked that this retelling of the story ends with the other animals helping Iguana clean up, and then sharing the leftover party food with her. To me, it’s a more satisfying ending than some retellings which simply end with the Hen character eating all the food herself.

What a writer notices: I checked this book out of the library as part of my study of WRITING PICTURE BOOKS by Ann Whitford Paul. She references quite a few picture books, including several of her own, and I was happy to find this one on the shelf.

This story is truly delightful, and I so admire how the author incorporated multiple hooks into the story. This is at once a Little Red Hen retelling with a unique setting (hook), a book about a party (hook) a book that introduces Spanish vocabulary (hook), and a days-of-the-week book (hook). Yet none of these feel forced. Instead, they all seem to be a natural part of the unfolding of the story.

Activities/Links to Resources: 

A crossword puzzle from the publisher, Holiday House, with some of the Spanish words from the book:

Pre-reading, during reading, and post-reading ideas, including a bibliography of Little Red Hen retellings:

A mural project for kindergarteners:

24 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday – Mañana Iguana

  1. patientdreamer says:

    Now all I wanted was for a you tube of someone reading it to me, mainly so I can learn a few Spanish words for my trip…lol. Amazing, another retelling of the Little Red Hen. Great find Carrie. With a bit of luck I might be able to locate it in my library.

  2. laura516 says:

    I always fill up my “library cart” with the terrific suggestions from Perfect Picture Book Friday! Thanks for adding this one to my list 🙂

  3. Laura Anne Miller says:

    Carrie – I am glad to see a retelling of ‘Little Red Hen’ that allows for a change in heart of the other characters. I understand the need to labor for rewards, but I always felt the hen did not exhibit leadership influence or forgiveness. And I love the many different aspects it incorporates.

  4. danacarey1 says:

    All those hooks are interesting. And the more satisfying ending is a nice touch– makes me wonder what other classic tale could use a new twist.

  5. Amy D says:

    Why am I not surprised to see an Ann Whitford Paul book from you this week? 🙂

    Great choice…love her books especially for the Spanish language element.

  6. Stacy Stenberg Jensen says:

    I’ll have to find this one since my son dressed up like an Iguana for Halloween last year. We’re in the middle of a hippo book festival in our house at the moment. As a writer, I’m curious to see how she weaves the Spanish and days of the week into the story.

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