Reading across America leads to reading about other people and cultures. Bernard Wolf takes us on an amazing journey into the world of 6-year-old Leo who lives in Teotitlan del Valle in the Oaxaca Valley. Leo, like his father, is a weaver. The place, the life style, the traditions are recreated vividly in this handsome photo essay.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 6-Although the subtitle might imply that this is a folktale, it is in fact a photo essay about a contemporary Zapotec Indian family living in Oaxaca, Mexico. The title refers to their village-Teotitln del Valle, which means ``Beneath the Stone in the Valley,'' so named by the people who settled there some 3,500 years ago. Wolf focuses on the daily life of six-year-old Leodegario Vicente Golan Ruiz. Vivid full-color photographs capture the boy and his family as they buy food and cook meals; go to school; weave tapetes (rugs/wall hangings) and sell them in Oaxaca City; and celebrate Los Dias de los Muertos, the anniversary of the Mexican Revolution, and Christmas. The lively text clearly explains what is going on in the pictures and highlights the dual nature of contemporary Zapotecs, whose cultural traditions are descended from the ancient Indians as well as from the Spanish conquistadors. The importance of family, community, and heritage in Leo's life comes across in both photos and text. By following him through his daily experiences, the author has made the boy's culture accessible to readers, who will recognize similarities as well as differences between his and their own ways of life. A pronunciation guide, map, and a two-page history of the Zapotecs makes this book useful for assignments. However, it will also be pored over and read for pleasure.- Lauren Mayer, New York Public Library
Mary Harris Veeder
Despite the word "tale" in the title, this book is a nonfiction photo-essay. Full-color photographs and text follow six-year-old Leo and his family through several months in their mountain valley village near Oaxaca City, Mexico. Leo's family, Zapotec Indians, are weavers. Everyday home and school activities are presented, as well as celebrations for The Days of the Dead (in which adults toast with bottles of beer), the anniversary of the Mexican Revolution, and Christmas. The text discusses the economics of a family business, and it avoids an emphasis on "quaint" activities. A map, a pronunciation guide, and a summary of the Zapotec's place in Mexican history are provided.