For the peaceful highlanders of Guatemala, life has become a nightmare. Helicopters slash like machetes through the once-quiet air. Soldiers patrol the streets, hunting down suspected guerillas. Villagers mysteriously disappear and children are recruited as soldiers. Tomasa’s family is growing increasingly desperate, especially after Mama goes into hiding with Tomasa’s oldest brother. Finally, after their house is razed to the ground and the villagers massacred, Tomasa, Manuelito, and baby Maria set off with Papa on a perilous journey to find Mama and Carlos, only to discover that where one journey ends, another begins. This gripping novel tells the story of how Tomasa’s family survives the Guatemalan army’s brutal regime and how, in the midst of tragedy, their love and loyalty — and Papa’s storytelling — keeps them going on their harrowing journey as refugees to the United States. Mirrored in the tapestries of Tomasa’s dreams, the dramatic events of the Guatemalan army’s “scorched earth” campaign of the 1980s are tempered with hope and the generosity of the human spirit.
Margarita lives in a mansion. When she climbs her favorite tree, she can look down into the beautiful garden below. She can also see the small house next door where her friend Rosario and her family live. One day she sees Rosario and her brother dragging her tricycle into their yard and hiding it under a pile of boxes. Margarita decides to lie and protect her friends — but is she really helping them? This sensitive story illustrated in magic realist style powerfully presents complex issues of friendship, maturity, and social standing.
This book has been included in WOW’s Kids Taking Action Booklist. For our current list, visit our Boolist page under Resources in the green navigation bar.
The Lake Atitlan Reference Guide is an eco-cultural guide to the lake identified by Aldous Huxley (Brave New World) as “the most beautiful lake in the world.” Atitlan is a volcanic caldera, located at 5,000 ft above sea level in the Mayan highlands of Guatemala. Atitlan means “at the water.” It is a fusion of simple Nahuatl words that belies the complexity of the entity it identifies. Lake Atitlan is both a place and an event in motion. Its life incorporates the visually stunning character of one of nature’s most ambitious creations and the extraordinarily diverse cultural character of the human life that the Lake has drawn to its shores. Atitlan was born violently, long ago, probably before the emergence of man here. Scientists still debate the exact nature of its birth, an event which created a nearly circular depression of 11 miles in diameter, 95 square miles of area, and over 1,000 feet deep. The cause of this huge cavity, a chain of events which began with an immense eruption, produced a unique microenvironment that has been drawing wanderers to the Lake’s shores for at least thousands of years. Cultures have clashed to control it. Vagabonds have been absorbed by it, laid down roots, and quit “moving on.” Traveling notables have been overwhelmed by its beauty and written about it in the loftiest of terms. Any effort to empirically order the kaleidoscope of its elements is ultimately challenged by the spiritual and physical immensity of the subject. This work makes no such attempt. What is offered here instead is a summary of the Lake environment in terms of its physical location and nature, its cultural history, and its contemporary political and socioeconomic life. The text is supported by more than 100 quality fotos (most in color) and a variety of other illustrations.
This is a collection of 12 folktales from the various Mayan communities around the shoreline of Lake Atitlan, located in the highlands of Guatemala. This edition is bilingual English-Spanish and, beyond entertainment, incorporates ethnographic and geographical descriptive information about the environment and Mayan culture in the rural highlands of Guatemala.
Rigoberta Menchu returns to the world of childhood. The novel’s seven-year-old heroine, Ixkem, is chosen to tend to the prized cornfields once her grandfather has passed away. But Ixkem isn’t sure she can accept this great responsibility. Out in the fields, she discovers a legion of tiny people, no bigger than bananas. They are nahuales — secret animal spirits — and when they take Ixkem into the underworld where they live, she regales them with tales of the surface. What they offer in return helps Ixkem to accept both her grandfather’s wishes for her and the fact that she must soon wish him goodbye. This moving story is rich with emotion and Mayan folklore, perfect to captivate any young reader.
When guerrilla soldiers strike Santiago’s village, they shoot at everyone in their path. Dos Vías is on fire, and the night glows red. “Take the cayuco and sail to the United States of America. Now go!” Santiago’s uncle Ramos tells him, and Santiago, twelve, and his four-year-old sister, Angelina, flee.
With a map, a machete, and very little food, Santiago and Angelina set sail in their uncle Ramos’s sea kayak, built for just such an escape, but not for a sailor who is only a boy. Santiago heads for the United States on a voyage that will take them through narrow channels guarded by soldiers, shark, infested waters, and days of painful heat and raging storms. Santiago knows that he and Angelina probably will die trying to make the voyage, but they certainly will die at the hands of rebels or government soldiers if they do not try.
The sequel to Among the Volcanoes portrays the intellectual and political transformation of a young Mayan woman who leaves her Guatemalan village to attend a special program for teachers.
A bilingual retelling of a Guatemalan folktale about a young man who tries to win the hand of a Mayan princess by making his song as sweet as that of the birds.
A collection of Jakaltek Mayan folktales, first told to the author by his mother and the elders of his Guatemalan village. They deal with the themes of creation, nature, mutual respect, and ethnic relations and conflicts. Told for the first time in English and illustrated with Mayan images, these stories and fables speak eloquently of an ancient culture, at once preserving its history and recreating its tradition.
The Lau family travels to Antigua, Guatemala to visit their cousins. Although the Laus are Chinese and Buddhist, they adore the pageantry of Easter, and Easter in Antigua is exciting, with long, elaborate processions of penitents wreathed in incense and carrying colonial Spanish statues down the cobblestone streets of the city. The best part is seeing the elaborate carpets made of colored sawdust, which the processions walk over and destroy. On the morning of the most important procession, the heroine is invited to make her very own sawdust carpet. But why, she wonders, make something so beautiful, only to have it be ruined? Guatemalan and Chinese religious observances, dragon boat races and Easter processions, piñatas, baptisms, and Chinese tamales all weave in and out of this story, which celebrates beauty, religious celebration, and tolerance.