Juan Bobo (comic book)

Juan Bobo is a comic book series of folk stories from Puerto Rico, centered on the Juan Bobo children's character. For centuries, these folk stories have been passed from generation to generation amongst Puerto Rican schoolchildren, and the Juan Bobo comic books have been published in Puerto Rico, the United States and Spain, among other countries. For nearly two centuries a vast collection of books, songs, riddles and folktales have developed around the Juan Bobo character. Hundreds of children's books have been written about Juan Bobo in English and Spanish.[10][11] There are at least 70 Juan Bobo stories.[12] In 2002, the book Juan Bobo Goes to Work won the ALA Notable Books for Children Award[8] and the Belpré Medal for its illustrations.[9]

Juan Bobo
Cover of Juan Bobo and the Bag of Gold #1 (August 2013) [Benchmark Books]. Art by Jess Yeomans.
Publication information
PublisherJournal of American Folklore

Walker & Company
Ediciones Librero
Ediciones Huracan
Harper Collins[2]
Turtleback Books
Troll Communications
Scholastic Books[3]
Ediciones Puertorriqueñas
Houghton Mifflin
August House
Benchmark Books

Reviewed by:
Kirkus Reviews[4]
Library Journal[5]
Publishers Weekly[6]
FormatOngoing series
Publication date1921, 1973, 1979, 1981, 1993, 1994, 1995 (HarperCollins), 1995 (Dutton Lodestar), 1995 (Turtleback-Bernier), 1995 (Turtleback- Mike), 1997, 1998 (Troll), 1998 (Libero), 1999, 2000 (Rayo), 2000 (Hampton-Brown), 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2013
Main character(s)Juan Bobo
Creative team
Created byOriginally: Puerto Rican school children[7]
Retold by:
Virginia Schomp (Benchmark)
Marisa Montes (Harper Collins)
Felix Pitre (Dutton Books)
Carmen T Bernier-Grand (Harper Collins)
Ari Acevedo-Feliciano (August House)
Bernice Chardiet (Walker & Co.)
Maria Cadilla de Martinez and Jose Ramirez-Rivera (Ediciones Librero)
Jan M. Mike (Troll Communications)
Rosario Ferre (Ediciones Huracan)
Jan M Mike (Turtleback)
Written byPuerto Rican school children
Artist(s)Jess Yeomans (Benchmark)
Joe Cepeda (Harper Collins)
Christy Hale (Dutton Books)
Ernesto Ramos Nieves [Photographer] (HC-2)
Tom Wrenn (August)
Charles Reasoner (Troll)
Collected editions
ALSC AwardISBN 978-0-6881-6234-4 [8]
Belpre AwardISBN 0-688-16234-7 [9]

Juan Bobo stories are also used as instructional models in public school districts and libraries throughout the United States,[13] and on PBS Television.[14] The series was first published in the United States in 1921 by the Journal of American Folklore; the most recent series is in the American Legends and Folktales series published by Benchmark Publishers. When the comic books appeared for public mass sale in 1974, they were printed as standard 26-page hardcover children's comic books.[15] Some publishers chose the 8x8 format as the book sales matured.[16] They are designed for kindergarten and early grade children, aged four to eight.[16]

The Juan Bobo character

Often a trickster, sometimes a fool, Juan Bobo depicts a boy with a special way of doing things: with a good heart but little common sense. Juan Bobo tries to do exactly as his mother tells him, yet things always seem to go wrong - until they end up spectacularly right, as though Juan Bobo had an otherworldly, God-given genius. Due to this errant genius, Juan Bobo is Puerto Rico's most beloved noodlehead.[17] For example, sent off by his mother to find work, Juan Bobo causes one disaster after another and always manages to lose his payment.[5] In a typical Juan Bobo story his mother asks him to clean up a pig, so that she will fetch a higher price in the town market. Instead, Juan Bobo dresses her for church in his mother's best Sunday clothes, complete with lipstick and high heels.[18] The stories incorporate a pícaro young man who roams the Puerto Rican countryside, moving from job to job, and disaster to disaster. Though Juan and his tricks constitute the main story interest, the satirical comments on various trades and professions give a wealth of information on the social, political and religious fabric of Puerto Rico.[19] Juan Bobo is Puerto Rico's Amelia Bedelia.[20]

First U.S. collection

The first series of Juan Bobo stories published in the U.S. occurred in 1921. They appeared in the Journal of American Folklore under the title Porto Rican Folklore.[21][22] The story collection consisted of 56 "Picaresque Tales" about Juan Bobo, and included such exotic titles as Juan Bobo Heats up his Grandmother, Juan Bobo Delivers a Letter to the Devil, Juan Bobo Throws his Brother Down a Well, and Juan Bobo Refuses to Marry the Princess.[21] The first known publishing of the Juan Bobo stories in comic book format occurred in 1973; they were printed by the Walker and Company publishing house, authored by Bernice Chardiet and produced in hardcopy format.[23][24]

The origin and authorship of the stories presented a sociological lesson. The editors acknowledged that the stories absorbed many versions of African and European folk tales, and that the first draft of all 56 stories had been written by Puerto Rican school children. However, none of these children were named or credited in the story collection. Despite this open and wide-scale plagiarism, the Journal of American Folklore congratulated J. Alden Mason for authoring "the most abundant and important Spanish folk-tale material collected in Spanish America."[21]

Target audiences

Published both in hardcover and paperback, the Juan Bobo books are used as elementary school teaching books,[5] for bilingual language programs,[25][26] and in Spanish-language studies throughout the United States[27] Juan Bobo lesson plans and literacy activities accompany many of the books.[28][29] The McGraw Hill company uses the books in a reading instruction series, which is used in public school districts throughout the United States.[30] The Scholastic publishing company also offers Juan Bobo instruction modules to teachers around the US.[31] August House publishers has a series of Juan Bobo teaching materials for national distribution,[32] and the Greenwood Publishing Group also developed Juan Bobo materials to promote child literacy in classrooms and libraries.[33] The American Legends children's books included Juan Bobo in a series of four folkloric books.[34] Juan Bobo books and stories are stocked, and actively promoted, in public libraries in New York,[35] North Carolina,[36] Pennsylvania,[37][38] and in library systems throughout the United States.

Book sales

Book sellers throughout the United States carry a broad selection of Juan Bobo books. These can be found at Barnes & Noble,[39] Amazon Books,[40] Abe Books,[41] and Powell Books,[42] Newspapers around the U.S. regularly run Juan Bobo stories.[43] The Juan Bobo stories are known in many countries, from the United States to Central and South America, the Caribbean, Spain and the Philippines. Juan Bobo books are sold in Great Britain.[44] The National Library Board of Singapore has a listing of Juan Bobo books.[45] In the Philippines, Juan Bobo stories go by the name "Lazy Juan".[46] The National Library Board of Singapore has a listing of Juan Bobo books.[47]

Other media

On U.S. public television, the Juan Bobo stories are used by PBS stations in Alabama,[48] Arkansas,[49] California,[50] Chicago,[51] and Iowa,[52] and in the nationwide PBS Learning Media system.[53] Currently, Juan Bobo stories and radio dramas are regularly broadcast over radio stations in Puerto Rico.[54] Juan Bobo CDs are also sold on the island[54] and in the United States,[55][56] as are Juan Bobo MP3 downloads.[57]

In the theatrical arts, in New York City, Theatre Works USA developed and presented a Juan Bobo play, together with a children's study guide in 2008.[58] The Teatro Círculo Theater Company mounted an Off-Broadway production of The Mischievous Juan Bobo in 2006.[59] Also in 2006, the Open Eye Theater in Minneapolis performed The Adventures of Juan Bobo.[60][61] This was followed in 2009 by the University Theater of Northeastern Illinois University presenting a Juan Bobo play titled Señora Tortuga.[62] Children's theater companies enact the Juan Bobo stories, often in the form of puppet plays.[63][64] In New York City, a group of grade school children made a Juan Bobo animated film,[65] and children's Juan Bobo play scripts are available.[66] In Colombia, the Corporación Artística La Polilla theatre company mounted a production of Juan Bobo y el Secreto de la Princesa (Juan Bobo and the Riddling Princess) in 2013.[67]

In 1962, the Puerto Rican librarian Pura Belpré published the first Juan Bobo novel in the United States: Juan Bobo and the Queen's Necklace: A Puerto Rican Folk Tale.[68][69] Belpré, throughout her life, collected many other folktales from Puerto Rico, translated them into English and had them published as children's literature. Juan Bobo and the Queen's Necklace is still in print, and appears in book catalogues throughout the United States.[69][70][71] Today, the Pura Belpré Award is given annually by the American Library Association, in recognition of a Latino or Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays the Latino cultural experience in a work of literature for children or youth. In 2002 the Pura Belpré Award was given to Joe Cepeda for his illustration of Juan Bobo Goes to Work.[9]


Juan Bobo children's books have been published in the U.S. and worldwide. Juan Bobo stories have been published by Harper Collins,[72] Dutton Children's Books,[73] Scholastic Books[74] and many others, and reviewed by Kirkus Reviews,[4] Library Journal,[5] Publishers Weekly and Booklist.[73] Following is a partial list of Juan Bobo book series publishers.

1921Journal of American FolkloreNew York, NY56 Picaresque Porto Rican Folk TalesSoftcoverJAFJAFSpanish
1973Walker & Co.New York, NYJuan Bobo and the Pig: A Puerto Rican Folktale RetoldSoftcoverBernice ChardietHope MerymanEnglish
1979Ediciones LiberoMayagüez, PRLos Cuentos de Juan BoboPaperbackMaría C. Martínez, María Cadilla de Martínez, José Ramirez RiveraFreda BarbarikaSpanish
1981Ediciones HuracánSan Juan, PRLos Cuentos de Juan BoboPaperbackRosario FerréSpanish
1993DuttonNew York, NYJuan Bobo and the PigHardcoverFélix PitreChris HaleEnglish
1994HarperCollinsNew York, NYJuan Bobo: Four Folktales from Puerto Rico (an I Can Read Book)HardcoverCarmen T Bernier-GrandEnglish
1995HarperCollinsNew York, NYJuan Bobo: Four Folktales From Puerto Rico (I Can Read Book 3)PaperbackCarmen T. Bernier-GrandEnglish
1995Dutton LodestarNew York, NYJuan Bobo and the PigHardcoverFélix PitreChris HaleEnglish
1995TurtlebackSt. Louis, MOJuan Bobo: Four Folktales From Puerto RicoHardcoverCarmen T. Bernier-GrandEnglish
1995TurtlebackSt. Louis, MOJuan Bobo: Four Folktales From Puerto RicoHardcoverJan M. MikeEnglish
1997Troll CommMahway, NJJuan Bobo and the Horse of Seven Colors: A Puerto Rican LegendHardcoverJan M. MikeCharles ReasonerEnglish
1998Troll CommMahway, NJJuan Bobo and the Horse of Seven Colors (a Puerto Rican Legend)PaperbackJan M. MikeCharles ReasonerEnglish
1998Ediciones LiberoMayagüez, PRLos Cuentos de Juan BoboPaperbackMaría Cadilla de Martínez, José Ramirez RiveraSpanish
1999ScholasticNew York, NYJuan Bobo: Four Folktales From Puerto Rico (an I Can Read Book)HardcoverCarmen T. Bernier-GrandErnesto Ramos NievesEnglish
2000RayoNew York, NYJuan Bobo Goes to Work: A Puerto Rican Folk TaleHardcoverMarisa MontesJoe CepedaEnglish
2000Hampton-BrownColumbus, OHJuan Bobo Goes Up and Down the Hill A Puerto Rican Folk TalePaperbackMarisa MontesMaurie J. ManningEnglish
2003Publicaciones PuertorriqueñasSan Juan, PRAventuras de Juan BoboUnknownMaría Inéz ForasteriSpanish
2004Houghton MifflinBoston, MAJuan Bobo Takes a Long WalkPaperbackJulián RojasCindy RevellEnglish
2006RayoNew York, NYJuan Bobo Busca TrabajoPaperbackMarisa MontesJoe CepedaSpanish
2008August HouseLittle Rock, ARJuan Bobo Sends the Pig to MassPaperbackAri Acevedo FelicianoTom WrennEnglish and Spanish
2013BenchmarkPelham, NYJuan Bobo and the Bag of Gold (American Legends and Folktales)HardcoverVirginia SchompJess YeomansEnglish

See also


  1. Juan Bobo and the Pig: a Puerto Rican Folktale; by Christy Hale; Dutton Juvenile pub.; Sept. 1993; New York, NY ISBN 9780525674290
  2. Harper Collins, Juan Bobo Goes to Work; by Marisa Montes ISBN 9780688162337
  3. Scholastic Books, Juan Bobo series
  4. Kirkus Reviews; Juan Bobo; by Carmen T.Bernier-Grand; June 15, 1994 Retrieved 29-05-2013.
  5. Montes, Marisa (September 2000). Juan Bobo Goes to Work. Rayo. ISBN 0688162339.
  6. Dutton; Juan Bobo and the Pig. Reviews by Booklist and Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 29-05-2013.
  7. Journal of American Folklore, Vol.34, p.143-208; by J. Alden Mason & Aurelio M. Espinosa, ed.; 1921 Retrieved 2013-05-31.
  8. 2002 Notable Children's Books. American Library Service to Children, American Library Association. 2002.
  9. The Pura Belpré Award winners, 1996-present. American Library Service to Children, American Library Association. 2002.
  10. Rodríguez, Enid Sepúlveda (2007). Thesis - Juan Bobo, Postcoloniality and Frantz Fanon's Theory of Violence. Colorado State University Press. ISBN 0549285393.
  11. Zipes, Jack David (2006). "The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature". Smad - Zwer. Oxford University Press. 4. ISBN 9780195146561.
  12. Juan Bobo and the Riddling Princess: A Puerto Rican Folktale. John Alden Mason and William Bernard McCarthy. (In, "Marvels & Tales." Vol. 19, No. 2. 2005)
  13. Scholastic Books, Juan Bobo series, Grades K-2 Retrieved 29-05-2013.
  14. Chicago PBS; WTTW TV; Juan Bobo and the Pig Retrieved 2013-05-29.
  15. Juan Bobo and the Pig: A Puerto Rican Folktale Retold. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  16. Juan Bobo sends the Pig to Mass: Summary. Story Cove. Atlanta, GA. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  17. Juan Bobo: Four Folktales from Puerto Rico.
  18. Pitre, Felix (1993). Juan Bobo and the Pig. Dutton Juvenile. ISBN 0525674292.
  19. Juan Bobo and the Riddling Princess. William Bernard McCarthy. Journal of Fairy Tale Studies; Vol. 19, 2005; Wayne State University. Digitalcommons.wayne.edu Retrieved 18 March 2014
  20. Juan Bobo. Publisher's Weekly. 25-04-1994.
  21. American Folklore Society, ed. (1921). "The Journal of American Folk-lore". Memoirs. 14. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  22. William B. McCarthy, Wayne State University, Vol. 19, 2005. Retrieved August 2, 2014
  23. Kirkus Reviews, Nov. 1, 1973. Retrieved August 2, 2014.
  24. Juan Bobo and the Pig: A Puerto Rican Folktale Retold. 16 March 2014.
  25. Language, Space and Power: A Critical Look at Bilingual Education, pp. 169–216; by Sabina Hadi-Tabassum; Multilingual Matters Ltd. Pub., 2006; Tonawanda, NY
  26. "Quizlet, ''Juan Bobo Bilingual Study Set''". Quizlet.com. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  27. "Juan Bobo, Spanish-Language Lessons Plans". Conjuguemos.com. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  28. "HB Avenues/Highpoint Library, ''Juan Bobo Lesson Plans''" (PDF). Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  29. Scholastic Books Educational Materials, Juan Bobo Goes to Work
  30. Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examinations; McGraw Hill pub.; 2006; New York, NY Reading Grade 8. Retrieved 29-05-2013.
  31. Carmen T. Bernier-Grand. "Scholastic Books, ''Juan Bobo'' series, Grades K-2. Retrieved 2013-05-29". Scholastic.com. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  32. August House, Juan Bobo teaching series Retrieved 29-05-2013
  33. CactusHead Studio (19 April 2013). "Promoting Latino Children's Literature and Literacy in Classrooms and Libraries; Jaime Campbell Naidoo, ed". Cactusheadpuppets.blogspot.com. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-1-59158-904-4. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  34. "American Legends Series, ''Juan Bobo''". Jessyeomans.com. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  35. Upper Hudson Library System Retrieved 29-05-2013.
  36. Charlotte Mecklenburg Library; Charlotte, NC Retrieved 29-05-2013.
  37. Albright College Library Shelves; Reading, PA Retrieved 29-05-2013.
  38. Carnegie Library; Pittsburgh, PA Retrieved 29-05-2013.
  39. Barnes & Noble; Juan Bobo book selection Retrieved 2013-05-29
  40. Amazon Books; Juan Bobo book selection Retrieved 29-05-2013.
  41. Abe Books; Juan Bobo selection Retrieved 29-05-2013.
  42. Powell Books; Juan Bobo selection Retrieved 29-05-2013
  43. San Angelo Standard-Times; Juan Bobo's Pot: A Folktale from Puerto Rico; 30 July 2011 Retrieved 16-06-2013.
  44. Book Depository; Slough, UK; Juan Bobo: Four Folk Tales Retrieved 29-05-2013.
  45. National Board of Singapore; Juan Bobo Legends Retrieved 29-05-2013.
  46. The House Between Earth and Sky: Harvesting New American Folktales. Joseph Daniel Sobol. p.136. Teacher Ideas Press. 2005. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  47. National Board of Singapore; Juan Bobo Legends Retrieved 2013-05-29.
  48. "Alabama PBS, ''Juan Bobo and the Pig''". Aptv.org. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  49. "Arkansas PBS, ''Juan Bobo and the Pig''". Livedash.ark.com. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  50. "California PBS; KQED-TV; ''Juan Bobo and the Pig''". Kqed.org. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  51. "Chicago PBS, WTTW-TV, ''Juan Bobo and the Pig''". Schedule.wttw.com. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  52. "Iowa PBS, IPTV, ''Juan Bobo and the Pig''". Iptv.org. 8 January 2014. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  53. PBS Media, Juan Bobo and the Pig Retrieved 29-05-2013
  54. "Juan Bobo vigente por partida triple". Fundación Nacional (Prpop.org). 27 November 2011. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  55. Highpoint Library, Juan Bobo CDs Retrieved 29-05-2013.
  56. Juan Bobo’s Pot. Times-Herald Record. 1 August 2011. Retrieved 29-05-2013.
  57. Juan Bobo MP3s, Amazon Retrieved 29-05-2013
  58. "Theatre Works USA; ''Juan Bobo and the Pig''; 2008" (PDF). Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  59. "Teatro Circulo; The Mischievous Juan Bobo; 2006". Theatermania.com. 14 September 2006. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  60. "The Adventures of Juan Bobo; Twin Cities Daily Planet; Minneapolis; Minn". Tcdailyplanet.net. 21 July 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  61. "The Adventures of Juan Bobo; Open Eye Figure Theater; Minneapolis, Minn". Minnesotamonthly.com. 21 July 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  62. Señora Tortuga; Northeastern Illinois University; Fall 2009 Retrieved 29-05-2013.
  63. Cactus Head Puppets; April 2013 Retrieved 29-05-2013.
  64. Time Out New York; April 2013; The Encounter of Juan Bobo and Pedro Animal Retrieved 29-05-2013.
  65. "Juan Bobo's Birthday Party". Buzzzco.com. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  66. Creative Educational Systems; Juan Bobo play scripts Retrieved 29-05-2013
  67. Corporación Artística La Polilla; Juan Bobo y el Secreto de la Princesa; 2013 Archived 12 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  68. Korrol, Virginia Sánchez; Ruiz, Vicki L. (2006). Latinas in the United States, set: A Historical Encyclopedia. Indiana University Press. pp. 83–84. ISBN 9780253111692.
  69. Belpre, Pura (1 January 1962). Juan Bobo and the Queen's Necklace-a Puerto Rican Folk Tale. Frederick Warne. ASIN B000H8VQBM.
  70. Continuum Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature, p. 74; K.S. Giniger, pub.; New York, NY; 2005 Retrieved 2013-05-29
  71. Abe Books, Juan Bobo and the Queen’s Necklace Retrieved 2013-05-29.
  72. Montes, Marisa (19 September 2000). Juan Bobo Goes to Work: A Puerto Rican Folk Tale. HarperCollins. ISBN 9780688162337.
  73. Pitre, Felix (1993). Juan Bobo and the Pig: A Puerto Rican Folktale. Lodestar Books. ISBN 9780525674290.
  74. Carmen T. Bernier-Grand. "Scholastic Books, ''Juan Bobo'' series". Scholastic.com. Retrieved 18 March 2014.

There are at least 70 Juan Bobo stories. Following are links to some of them:

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