The Boy Who Could Do Anything & Other Mexican Folk Tales retold by Anita Brenner with illustrations by Jean Charlot consists of four themes which are; story telling in Milpa Alta, the boy who could do anything, things that happened long ago, and tales of magic, black and white.
In the first theme “Story Telling in Milpa Alta”, the first folk tales entitled “The Boy Who Took Care of the Pigs” tells us about a humble little boy named Juanito who worked hard and wished hard until he finally built a very elegant pink house for his parents. While in the other story, “The Happy Milkmaid”, Josephine shows us how an over happy feeling could makes ones lose everything, for she lost her milk when she dancing very happily and tripped than fell with her jug of milk. Also there were “Some Impatient Mule-Drivers”, a story about mule - drivers who lost their salt, their money and their mules. This just shows us that people who think that they are clever were sometimes mistaken.
The second theme is “The Boy Who Could Do Anything”. It totally tells us about a half god boy named Tepozton, the mountain boy. Tepozton, who loved to stay and play in the mountain and not afraid of anything, lived with an old couple who didn’t have any children and found him in the river. Tepozton became very well known because of his adventures in killing the giant who eats human, hanging the bells in the highest top of a church, opening the magic grocery store for every poor people in every new year, and some other wonderful folk tales that tells his help to people in need.
Now the third theme is “Things That Happened Long Ago”. One out of eight folk tales in this theme entitled “How Flint Face Lost His Name” tells a story of Flint Face, a mean man who had a lot of money but always wanted more. One day he lost everything and pretty soon he became a beggar. A little story called “One Roll of Bread” offers another side of poverty. It is a story of a poor man who’s being helped by a prince. But the poor man didn’t manage the help in a proper way. He keeps poor and dependent until one day the prince found out that the poor man always sold the bread he gave instead of breaking it which filled with gold indeed. The last folk tales in this theme is “The Bow, the Deer, and the Talking Bird” that figuring the first story of why Mexican people say “oh, a little bird told me” when they know a secret.
As its title, the last theme “Tales of Magic, Black and White”, tells six folk tales about magic. Three of them; the cow that cried, the poor widow bullfighter, and Chuco, who’s afraid? are stories about black magic by a priest that turned people into animal and sold them. His black magic finally solved by a little boy named Cucho. There is also a story entitled “Maria Sat on the Fire” that teach us not to be wasteful. Before Maria finally helped by a priest, her soul had to work in a house and sit on the fire every night. Because when she was alive, Maria often left the fire burning even when she was not cooking anything.
As a fairytale book, this book contains lots of Mexican tales that could teach children good values of life and depicts the culture of Mexican people.