Friday, January 10, 2014

Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes (for children)

Retold and illustrated by Camilla Juliana Gonzalez.

I would like to tell you a true story that I heard from my friend Cide Hamete. He told me about a boy named Alonso, who lived in a village of La Mancha, a region from Spain, in 1605. At that time, things were really difficult for the Spanish people: there was not much food, and their King, Philip III, was in war with other monarchs from Europe.

Alonso had a big imagination, and loved reading; but he didn’t like just any book. He enjoyed reading about knights, kings, and castles.

The story starts on Alonso’s yard, just like this.

“Alonso, come play outside, honey. It’s such a beautiful day!” called his mother, Dona Antonia, who was hanging laundry to dry. “I’m going to need help to feed the animals. Come help me, please.”

“I’m busy,” replied the boy from his bedroom without taking his eyes from a huge hardcover book.

“Leave your book and come to feed the pigs.” said his mom. “Sancho will be here anytime. Don’t you want to play with him?”

That was it! Playing with Sancho: his favorite activity. Sancho was his best friend; they had known each other since they were very young.

“What were you reading?” asked his mom.

“Oh, mom! It’s the best story ever. I was fighting a dragon to rescue peasants from a cave.” Alonso was so distracted that he fed the pigs corn kernels and the chickens, barley.

“You were not fighting a dragon. The knight from the story was. Oh, look what you did,” observed his mother. “Let me get more food for the animals.”

The pigs were pretty happy with the unexpected treat they received. Alonso tried to clean up his mess the best way possible, using an old broom. But instead of cleaning the grains, he used the broom as a play horse. “I’m going to name you Rocinante,” he declared. He found a copper basin to use it as a helmet. “Wow! I found the Golden Knight’s helmet,” he cried.

Then Sancho Panza arrived carrying a basket of bread, cheese and olives to deliver to Dona Antonia. He was a short, plump child with big cheeks and big eyes.

“Hello, Alonso. I brought the groceries your mom ordered. What are you playing?” asked Sancho. “I’m not playing. I’m a knight getting ready to go on an adventure,” stated Alonso. “And my name is Don Quixote.” Sancho knew that when his friend was pretending to be a knight there was not much else to do besides play along. Sancho said, “I’m sorry, Sir. I thought you were someone else. Would you please accept this basket of treats as my apologies?”

“Yes, apologies accepted. But you must follow me as a squire. Oh, I see you already brought my sword,” Don Quixote mentioned pointing to a loaf of bread from the basket.

“I’m not sure if your mother will like that you go outside the yard. Especially to be a famous knight,” responded Sancho. “Haven’t you just got better from a cold?”

“When I become a famous knight, I will be able to make you a governor of an island,” continued Don Quixote.

“An island just for me? That’s excellent! Thank you very much,” cried Sancho out loud.

“Let’s get going, Sancho Panza. Help me with my armor, please.” Don Quixote said putting on his dad’s jacket. “Take Dapple for your ride; she’s a gentle donkey.” he continued, giving Sancho a smaller broom.

“Where are we going?” inquired Sancho.

“Let’s go towards the city of Villanueva, Sancho. Something tells me that we are going to find the perfect adventure there.”

“We should use the King’s highway. It’s safer to travel there than to travel on the smaller roads,” added Sancho.

The two friends took the King’s highway South. A hundred paces away from the house, Don Quixote exclaimed: “Look Sancho Panza, my beautiful Dulcinea is walking on the garden, enjoying the warm sun.” “Who is Dulcinea?” asked Sancho, seeing just a peasant girl harvesting wheat by hand. “It’s my Lady from Tolboso. Why, isn’t she the most beautiful girl of the world? Don Quixote exclaimed.

Next stop on their adventure was at an inn. “Look at the four towers of the castle,” cried Don Quixote. Let’s cross the drawbridge carefully. Isn’t that grand, Sancho?” Sancho replied “No, it is not. That’s just an inn, and it is not a place for children,” and he sat by the door. But Alonso pretended that his squire was taking their horses to the stable to rest.

Don Quixote entered the inn expecting to meet the king. The king was actually the innkeeper who was eating breakfast with his guests. “Who are the parents of this lad?” He banged his fist on the table, dropping a basket of freshly baked biscuits.

Sancho tried to pull Don Quixote away from the dining room, but the owner was faster and grabbed the boy by his arm. “You are not leaving without your mom or your dad, kid.”

Then an older boy named Nicolas, who used to help the barber, spoke, “I know this lad, Sir, and I can take him home.” When they arrived, Dona Antonia was worried sick. “You should not leave the house and wander on the streets. I’m taking your books away for tonight.”

Later, Sancho went into his friend’s bedroom, wishing for a good story. “Hey, Alonso. Can you read for me?” “Sancho Panza, my good squire. A wizard took my books away. We should look for adventures outside,” declared Don Quixote. “I don’t think so. Your mother has just warned you…”, commented Sancho.

Don Quixote didn’t want to know about staying home. They escaped through the window and dashed across the yard. This time they took the King’s highway North.

Sancho Panza’s plan was to walk in a circle, hoping that Don Quixote would not notice. However, as soon as they started walking they saw two clouds of dust moving on the horizon.

“Look, Sancho,” shouted Don Quixote. “Two armies charging to fight each other. From here, I can see The Silver Knight on the right. And on the left, it’s the Black Knight.”

Don Quixote ran as fast as he could towards the dust. Sancho Panza stayed behind screaming “Those are flocks of sheep!”

The poor animals were scared and confused. They tried to escape going in all directions. Two shepherds ran after Don Quixote yelling for him to stop. Sancho also was running after his friend. “Stop”, he yelled, putting his hands on his head. The only thing that did stop the knight was the sheep. During their frantic escape, one of the animals knocked Don Quixote down.

Then, once more, Nicolas saved Don Quixote from trouble. He walked down from the hills and offered the shepherds some gold coins. He went back to where the boy was laying, put him on his shoulder and started to walk back to the village.

“Why are you carrying me, barber?” Don Quixote demanded feeling disrespected. “I really want to take you home,” responded Nicolas turning his eyebrows deep down and stomping his feet.

When they arrived home, Dona Antonia was crying “I told you not to leave. Tonight, you are going to bed without supper.”


That night Don Quixote dreamed that he was inside a cave, fighting dragons. It felt as if he had slept forever when he woke up, but it was still the middle of the night. He heard something gently knocking on his window. It was Sancho Panza, his faithful squire. Don Quixote opened his bedroom window and his friend got inside.

“Did you know we are famous already?” Sancho exclaimed. “All the kids from the village are pretending to be us.”

“We need more adventures, Sancho.” stated Don Quixote.

“No, we don’t really need any more adventure. Besides, it is still night. I don’t want to go anywhere in the dark,” uttered Sancho shaking his head.

“Now it’s the best time to leave, my squire. The wizard is sleeping, the enchanter is away. Let’s just go.” Don Quixote demanded, jumping from his bed at once.

The knight dragged Sancho with him. They walked and walked for many miles before arriving in the hills of Toledo.

From down the valley, Don Quixote could not believe his eyes. Twelve giants stood in formation, moving their arms as if warming up for battle. “Look for protection, Sancho. They are going to throw rocks on us,” exclaimed the knight. “Who?” asked Sancho scratching his head. “How can’t you see the giants?” Don Quixote stated opening his arms. “I see only windmills,” replied Sancho, relieved. However, he didn’t even have a chance to say another word. Don Quixote saw what he wanted and not what was there. He ran downhill with his bread-sword in hand. Sancho couldn’t understand what was happening.


One of the windmill’s sail got Don Quixote by his jacket and he flew into the air, yelling at the giant. “I’m going to get you and make mince pie.” The knight spun around the windmill twice until finally crashing down.


Sancho ran to help his friend, but Don Quixote didn’t look injured. “You can’t fight windmills!” he cried. “I feel terrible, Sancho Panza.” Don Quixote mumbled. “That giant had the best of me. But I have a recipe for a magic tea that can cure me.”

Sancho Panza tried to convince Don Quixote to go home. “How about we go home, drink hot chocolate and eat cornmeal cake?” The knight looked offended and replied “Absolutely not! Go fetch the ingredients for my tea,” he wailed. “How about chocolate cake?” Sancho tried. “Just go,” yelled Don Quixote. Grouchy Sancho found some mint leaves to make tea, and then mixed it with berries and bread crumbs, from Don Quixote’s bread-sword. He gave Don Quixote the tea, telling him it was not only magic but delicious.


“Thank you so much, my squire. I’m already feeling much better,” sighed the knight. “Let’s keep going.”

They were far from home, and Sancho was very tired of that play. It was no fun anymore. Alonso’s imagination was unbelievably difficult to keep up with.

The problem was that the tea gave Don Quixote a stomach ache. “Sancho, I really, really, need to use the bathroom,” he said holding his pants. “Where is the closest castle?” he asked. “The closest castle would be your own.” Sancho responded. “Either you go back home or you can do whatever you need behind that bush over there.” “Sancho, I can’t poop behind a bush! Are you out of your mind?” cried Don Quixote very offended. “Very well, then. Let’s run back home,” he demanded.


A few paces away, because it was dark and starting to rain, Don Quixote slipped on wet leaves and rolled into a hole. Lucky Sancho, he was behind the knight and didn’t fall in.


Who do you think Sancho went looking for? Nicolas, of course. However, he brought along Dona Antonia. While they were trying to figure out a way to get the child out of the hole, Don Quixote imagined himself inside a cave fighting a dragon; just like in his book at the beginning of this story.

When they finally pulled the boy from the hole, he came out covered in mud, with leaves stuck on his clothes and sticks on his hair. His face was so dirty that Dona Antonia was squeezing her eyes to make sure it was her son. The smell was terrible as you can imagine.

Dona Antonia always loved Alonso’s creativity, but she knew it was better for him to use his imagination another way.

On the next morning, Dona Antonia decided to play in the yard with Alonso and Sancho. She pretended to be the Queen of Castile. Alonso was Don Quixote and Sancho was the squire, once again. Then she told him. “Alonso, let’s stop playing for a moment.” “What happened, mom?” he questioned her.

“Alonso, I love your imagination. No one I know can make up stories as you do. So, I was wondering... how about you start writing your own stories?”

“Can I do that, mom?” he implored jumping up and down. “Of course, you can. You can put on paper all the adventures you have imagined. You can make up your own knights, squires and kings. You can name them after yourself. But, remember: not everything you imagine can be done for real,” she continued. “I know, mom. I really do. Can I go inside and work on my stories?” he asked. “Of course, honey,” his mother replied.

And that is how Alonso wrote “The Adventures of the Ingenious Knight Don Quixote of La Mancha”.


1 comment:

Marta Gil said...


Adorei!! Que bom que vc está usando sua imaginação!

Continue, por favor.