Spirit of the Maya: A Boy Explores His People’s Mysterious Past

Kin, a 12-year-old Lacando boy living in a Mexican town, is descended from the ancient Maya. Wearing contemporary clothing yet sporting the style of long hair traditional to his people, he is clearly rooted in both the past and the present. After his grandfather shows him a book about Pacal, a Maya who became king in 615 A.D. when he was 12, Kin eagerly accompanies his father to the site of Pacal’s tomb. The boy “feels a twinge of sadness” watching his father sell his handmade replicas of Maya hunting arrows to tourists “at the gates of the great city that his ancestors once ruled.” Kin explores the Maya ruins and locates Pacal’s tomb, but afterwards he feels lonely and distant from his ancestors. Then, on the ride home, he has an improbably sudden change of attitude when he spies a statue of the king. All at once Kin realizes that he and Pacal are “brothers” and, for the first time in his life, Kin “knows how it feels to be a king.”

Related: Intermediate (ages 9-14), Latin America, Mexico, Realistic Fiction

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