Journey for Peace: The Story of Rigoberta Menchu

The winner of the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize, Rigoberta Menchu is a poor, uneducated Mayan woman who has helped her native people fight oppression in Guatemala and who has told the world about their suffering. Part of the Rainbow Biography series, the account is quiet, but it tells of violence and poverty and amazing courage. Beginning with Menchu’s childhood as a field laborer, her personal story is woven together with that of her Indian people and their harsh dislocation at the hands of the landowners and the brutal army. Her father was imprisoned, tortured, and finally murdered for his leadership role in the resistance; so were her mother and her brothers and sisters. Yet, like her father, she has led her people in nonviolent resistance and has given them a voice.

The Well of Sacrifice

Eveningstar Macaw lives in a glorious Mayan city in the ninth century. When the king falls ill and dies, the city begins to crumble. An evil high priest, Great Skull Zero, orders the sacrifice of those who might become king, including Eveningstar’s beloved brother. As Eveningstar attempts to stop the sacrifice and to save her brother, Eveningstar becomes an enemy of the High Priest. The Priest attempts to send her into the well of sacrifice, and Eveningstar must find a way not only to save her own life but to rescue her family and her city from the tyrannical grasp of Great Skull Zero.

Sawdust Carpets

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.

Celebrate! In Central America

Describes the background and customs associated with some of the festivals of Central America.

Iguana Beach

Little Reina persuades her mother to let her go to the beach with her uncle and cousins, but she has to promise to not go near the waves. It becomes intolerable for her to keep that promise as her cousins frolic in the water–and then she finds a solution to her problem.

Popol Vuh: A Sacred Book of the Maya

One of the few Maya documents to survive the Spanish conquest, the Popol Vuh describes the creation of the Maya universe and of humans. It tells the tale of the Hero Twins, who defeated the gods of the underworld in a ball game, and details the legendary history of the Quiche Maya rulers until their imprisonment and torture by the Spanish. Equivalent to the Bible and the Greek and Roman mythologies, the Popol Vuh is the essential text of Mayan culture.

My Pig Amarillo

Amarillo is Pablito’s best friend. They do everything together-run, hide from each other, jump in the mud. They are inseparable, just like many best friends. But Amarillo is a bit different-he is a little yellow pig. When Pablito comes home from school one day and Amarillo isn’t there, Pablito is devastated. Where could he be? Pablito can’t eat; he can’t sleep. His heart feels as if it will break wide open. But Grandfather has an idea, a way for Pablito to send a message to Amarillo, and help him say goodbye to his best friend. My Pig Amarillo is a beautiful story for children of all ages, full of friendship and love and learning to let go.