~posted by Ruth
When I was growing up, Zorro was one of my favorite heroes. He fought to right wrongs, taunted the evil Commandante, and also managed to foil him at every turn. With the help of his loyal manservant Bernardo, Zorro (aka Don Diego) was the people’s champion, using his amazing skills as a swordsman, athlete, and rider. His alter-ego Don Diego assumed the temperament of a timid poet, choosing the cover of night to don his mask and summon his lightening fast horse, Tornado. When Molly and Jacob visited this summer, I decided to introduce them to the wonders of Zorro through YouTube clips. (Perfect amount of screen time at about 10 minutes each!) Soon, we were singing the theme song together, drawing Zorro and Tornado pictures, and searching for books to extend the adventure.. . .Not as easy as I thought! I did find the Little Golden Books circa 1957, but they were all out-of-print, used copies.
They are still available, though harder to find the inexpensive ones. What my research did inform me, though, was that one of my favorite authors, Isabelle Allende, was as enamored by Zorro as I was and grew up watching his escapades on TV in Chile at the same time I was watching them in New England. Not only that, she penned a terrific novel that created a back story and three-generation epic novel of Zorro. And another contemporary favorite author of the kids, Denys Cazet, has written a Minnie and Moo Zorro adventure for early readers to delight in.
The result? Zorro!: One for Me and One for You:
Zorro: A Novel by Isabelle Allende
The hero Zorro in Allende’s novel is the son of a proud and honorable Spanish military man turned aristocrat and a Shoshone warrior woman. At the end of the eighteenth century, in a California of warring factions and brutal Spanish domination, the young Diego de la Vega becomes the hero Zorro! I would call it a retelling of the Zorro legend, but truth be told, Allende created her novel out of the same tale I grew up with–Walt Disney’s 1957 television show, with all the of the characters–and then some. I loved the epic novel as it unfolded, with all the nuances of backstories for Sergeant Garcia and Bernado. . .and of course, some fine romance. A guilty pleasure–written by one of our finest contemporary authors.
Minnie and Moo: The Musk of Zorro by Denys Cazet
Like me–(and Isabelle Allende)–the delightfully hilarious cows, Minnie and Moo, long for the days of swashbuckling heroes who fight to right wrongs. They become. . .Juanita del Zorro del Moo and Dolores del Zorro del Minnie and, armed with a barbecue skewer, they roam the farm. (Of course, so that they can make the mark of Zorro, they must duct-tape a tube of red lipstick to the end of it.) In their adventures (and misadventures) they try to free the chickens from the domination of the rooster, and release the farmer’s long underwear from the clothesline. As always with Minnie and Moo, perfect for beginning readers with large font, appealing illustrations, and short chapters.