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Literature / Sitio Do Picapau Amarelo

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Sitio do Picapau Amarelo, also know by its literally translated title Yellow Woodpecker Farm, is a Fantasy Literature series by Monteiro Lobato from 1920 to 1947 and considered one of the most important works in Brazilian literature, regarded as the local equivalent to C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. The story follows the residents of the titular farm: Mrs. Benta, her grandchildren Pedrinho (Pete in English) and Lucia (nicknamed "Narizinho", which is Portuguese for "Little Nose") and their living and talking toys - Emilia and the Viscount of Corncomb ("Visconte de Sabugosa" as he is called in his original language) as they go through different adventures, exploring and learning new things. Given it was a work directed for children, the books had a mostly educational purpose, with several volumes focusing on subjects such as math, physics, geography, history and Brazilian folkore being taught to the readers through the protagonists in the story. With that said, it also veered into the fantastic and outlandish territory, having the kids interact with all sorts of fictional beings ranging from Greek mythology to fairy tales and classic literature. The series became a successful classic in its home country and all volumes have been translated to different languages such as Russian and Spanish, but for some unknown reason, they were not available in English, despite Lobato being responsible for translating books such as Tarzan, The Jungle Book and Alice in Wonderland.

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List of Books

  • Reinações de Narizinho ("The Adventures of Lúcia Little Nose")
  • Viagem ao Céu ("Voyage to the Sky").
  • O Saci ("The Saci").
  • Caçadas de Pedrinho ("Pedrinho's Hunting").
  • Aventuras de Hans Staden ("The Adventures of Hans Staden").
  • História do Mundo Para Crianças ("History of the World for Children").
  • Memórias da Emília ("Emilia's Memoirs").
  • Emília no País da Gramática ("Emilia in the Land of Grammar").
  • Aritmética da Emília ("Emilia's Math Book").
  • Geografia de Dona Benta ("Mrs Benta's Geography").
  • Serões de Dona Benta ("Night Chatting With Mrs Benta").
  • História das Invenções ("The History of Inventions").
  • Histórias de Tia Nastácia ("Aunt Nastácia's Tales").
  • O Picapau Amarelo ("The Yellow Woodpecker").
  • A Reforma da Natureza ("Reforming Nature").
  • O Minotauro ("The Minotaur").
  • A Chave do Tamanho ("The Size Switch").
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  • Fábulas ("Fables").
  • Os Doze Trabalhos de Hércules ("The Twelve Labors of Hercules").
  • Peter Pan ("The Story of Peter Pan").
  • Dom Quixote das Crianças ("Don Quixote for Children").
  • O Poço do Visconde ("The Viscount's Well").
  • Histórias Diversas ("Diverse Stories").

In addition, it has been adapted to live-action many times. The Saci and The Yellow Woodpecker were adapted into theatrical release movies in 1951 and 1973 respectively, and at least three TV series were made based on the books under different networks. The most recent one being made in 2001 featured also completely original storylines and Canon Foreigner characters. It ran for 6 years until it was cancelled in 2007 due to poor ratings. In 2012, an animated series was aired in Rede Globo and local Cartoon Network channel.

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This series contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Applied Phlebotinum: Pirlimpimpim is a powerful magic powder used by the characters to travel across time and space and visit Ancient Greece, the Neverland, the Fable worlds and many other places.
  • Audience Surrogate: Given that children are the target audience, Pedrinho, Narizinho and Emilia are the focal characters in all the books.
  • Been There, Shaped History: The kids travel back in time to Ancient Greece and they assisted Hercules in all his Twelve Labors.
  • Big Bad: The series as a whole doesn't have a central antagonist, and several books with educational purpose do not either. The ones that do, on the other hand, have the following examples.
    • The Saci: The alligator-witch Cuca that turns Narizinho into stone. She is something of a Breakout Villain, being promoted to a recurring antagonist in the tv series and the cartoon.
    • The Yellow Woodpecker: Captain Hook serves as main villain through most of the story, but curiously, he is disposed before the climax. He also technically serves this role in Peter Pan, even though the its a story told to the main cast.
    • The Minotaur: The titular monster serves as main villain, being responsible for kidnapping Anastasia in the previous book.
    • The Twelve Labors of Hercules: Hera, obviously enough.
  • Body Horror: Reforming Nature was all about this trope, or at least, the closest you can get away putting in a children's book. Basically, Emilia starts messing with nature and creating thin pigs, wingless flies, a 94-legged giant centipede, giant fleas that can jump extremely high in the air, 6-legged earthworms and many monsters. Really, this whole thing wouldn't be out of place in a David Cronenberg movie.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Emilia is definitely one. She acts on childish whims and is prone to throwing tantrums when things don't go her way. It can get pretty dangerous like in Reforming Nature, when she creates horrific monsters and interfering with natural order all because she could.
  • Breakout Villain: The Cuca appeared for only one book, The Saci to be precise, but she got promoted to a recurring antagonist in both tv shows and is heavily associated with Monteiro Lobato's work.
  • Butt-Monkey: The Viscount is the most prone victim to Emilia's antics, forced to put up with it because he is smaller than her and she can boss him around.
  • Distressed Damsel: Aunt Anastacia is kidnapped by the Minotaur in the Cliffhanger ending to Book 14, requiring the kids to embark on a Roaring Rampage of Rescue to save her.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The kids actually encounter Hercules during the Minotaur book and help him defeat the Lernean Hydra.
  • Enthralling Siren: One recurring character is the Iara, a water nymph from Brazilian folklore whose voice can enchant any men and she her looks can turn into stone. Her portrayal often varied from negative to positive, specially in the tv shows.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: While the main cast visits a huge variety of characters from many distinct origins, many books tend to keep this trope self-contained. The Yellow Woodpecker is the exception, since nearly every mythological and fairy-tale character ends up visiting the farm, the cast fighting pirates to save a mermaid and the climax has Snow White's wedding being crashed by several monsters from Greek mythology.
  • Fish People: The residents of the Clear Waters Kingdom are all fish with human-like traits (aside from one of the guards in the cartoon, who is a frog).
  • Framing Device: Frequently in educational books, with Mrs. Benta or Aunt Anastasia narrating several stories to the kids.
  • Funny Animal: The animals in the Woodpecker Farm talk and act like humans, including a pig, a donkey and a frikkin rhino. The Fish People of the Clear Waters Kingdom also qualify.
  • Gentle Giant: Quindim is a massive rhinoceros, but he is extremely sweet as his name indicates (quindim is a Brazilian dessert).
  • Honorary Aunt: Aunt Anastacia is an old maid that works at the farm and not related to the kids, but she is referred to as "aunt" by them and she is extremely protective in return.
  • Interspecies Romance: Narizinho falls in love and nearly marries the Scaled Prince, the ruler of the Clear Waters Kingdom).
  • Lighter and Softer: The 2012 cartoon is essentially this, considering the dark places the books went. Not to mention the art style is very cute.
  • Little Miss Badass: According to Word of God, Emilia is so independent not even her own creator would be capable of controlling her.
  • Little Miss Snarker: Emilia is a small living and talking doll with quite the mouth on her.
  • Living Toys: Emilia is a living rag doll, while the Viscount is a puppet made from corncomb.
  • A Load of Bull: Prince Asterion, the Minotaur from the Greek myth, is the Big Bad in the book of the same name.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: The eponymous farm is an interdimensional nexus to, essentially, every fantasy and adventure fiction character ever written, including but not limited to the Greek Gods, Sherlock Holmes, fairy tales such as Snow White, Peter Pan, the Arabian Nights, the fables from Aesop, The Three Musketeers, medieval Knights and local Brazilian legends to booth.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: The Cuca is an humanoid alligator witch and she is also the closest thing to a Big Bad the series has.
  • Princesses Rule: Gender-inverted; the Clear Waters Kingdom is governed by a prince.
  • Rescue Arc: The Minotaur has the kids travelling to Ancient Greece to rescue Aunt Anastacia after she was kidnapped by the titular monster so she could cook her delicious food to him.
  • Riddling Sphinx: The Sphinx from Greek mythology is encountered in The Minotaur and yes, it gives its famous riddle for them to solve.
  • Supreme Chef: Aunt Anastasia is very famous for her bolinhos-de-chuva, a very delicious dessert that she always makes for the kids. Unfortunately, the Minotaur kidnaps her so he can cook for him too.
  • Trickster Archetype: The Saci Pererê is an one-legged black young man in a red jumpsuit that lives to pull off annoying pranks.
  • Wicked Witch: The Cuca, only instead of looking like an old crone, she has an alligator-head.
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