Ghost Hands

Overview

When T. A. Barron visited the Patagonian Cave of Hands and saw a footprint inside the cave, he knew there was a story there. And so he created the story of Auki, a young boy who knows he's ready to be a hunter, even though his father says he's not old enough. When Auki defies his father and sneaks out at dawn with spear in hand, he discovers something unexpected-a place he never knew existed. A place that teaches him more about his people-and himself- than a hunt ever could. This is a powerful story of courage, ...

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Overview

When T. A. Barron visited the Patagonian Cave of Hands and saw a footprint inside the cave, he knew there was a story there. And so he created the story of Auki, a young boy who knows he's ready to be a hunter, even though his father says he's not old enough. When Auki defies his father and sneaks out at dawn with spear in hand, he discovers something unexpected-a place he never knew existed. A place that teaches him more about his people-and himself- than a hunt ever could. This is a powerful story of courage, transformation, and imagined history.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Anne Hevener
On a trip to the Patagonia area of South America, T.A. Barron, author of the "Lost Years of Merlin" series, visited Cueva de las Manos, the "Cave of Hands," in Argentina, where the rock walls are covered with hundreds and hundreds of painted hands and one foot. Inspired by this artistic legacy of the region's native people, Barron imagines a story and explanation. It involves Auki, whose name means "Little Hunter." Eager to join his father and the other men on a hunting excursion, but still too young, Auki sets out alone to prove his courage. When he comes face to face with a puma, the young boy falls down into a secret canyon where he soon discovers the mysterious cave. There he meets an elder who knows the secrets of the painted hands, but instead of sharing the knowledge, he makes the boy leave the sacred place. Moments later, when the elder suddenly finds himself in a life-threatening situation, Auki returns and saves him. Just how he does it leads to the secret of the single painted foot. Although there is peril in the tale, it is a gentle story about finding one's courage, different kinds of strengths, and the importance of ancestry. It is beautifully written with soft, dreamy pictures that set the perfect mood. Reviewer: Anne Hevener
School Library Journal
Gr 2–5—In the mountains of South America is a cave called Cueva de las Manos, or, Cave of the Hands, made by the Tehuelche tribe who lived in the Patagonian region for thousands of years. Nearly 900 separate hands are depicted on the surface of the rock, as well as the image of one foot. The author, spellbound by the mystery and wonder of the hands, but especially of the single foot, created this fictional account of how and why they might have been created. It is the story of Auki, whose name means "little hunter," but who is deemed too young and inexperienced to accompany his father. Determined to prove his worth, he sets off early one morning to hunt a puma, but in a chance encounter with one, injures his foot in a fall. While crawling to safety, he discovers the Cave of the Hands, as well as the artist, who brusquely sends him away. Auki hobbles off, only to be pulled back by the painter's shouts of alarm because the seemingly life-size puma has cornered him. Now is Auki's real chance to prove his bravery by kicking the animal. The stunning digitally enhanced illustrations, rich in color and texture, perfectly capture the terrain, action, and emotions in a realistic manner that helps readers imagine the time and place. Teachers can use this as a good example of how a story can be developed by imagining why or how something came to be and can mine the story for Barron's abundant use of descriptive similes.—Maggie Chase, Boise State University, ID
Kirkus Reviews

The ubiquity of the handprint in cave art around the world, and Patagonia in particular, begs unresolved questions about the image's meaning; Barron's invented back story posits that healers, warriors and others who contributed to the common good may have been thus memorialized.

Adding to the intrigue in Argentina's Cueva de las Manos is the appearance of a footprint. Combining suspense with coincidence to imagine what prompted this singularity, Barron offers this tale narrated by a son of the Tehuelche tribe. When Auki begs to go hunting, his father admonishes him to wait: "To hunt you must be strong. And brave—brave enough to face the puma. For the puma, too, is a hunter...." The child sets out alone. Digitally rendered compositions teem with texture and depth. Light and shadow crisscross the cliffs, and loose strokes animate the players. In a dramatic double-page spread, the beast appears, fangs bared, facing the reader and the boy. While fleeing, the protagonist wounds his foot, stumbling upon the secret cave "visited only by elders...and...ghosts." A climactic scene pitting the savage animal against the aged cave painter portrays Auki's foot as a weapon—one worthy of record.

As in Barron and Low's previous collaboration, The Day the Stones Walked (2007), tightly connected visuals and text provoke curiosity and awe about a phenomenon at once mysterious and accessible. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-8)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399250835
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/7/2011
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: 510L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

T. A. Barron

T.A. Barron is the award-winning author of fantasy novels such as The Lost Years of Merlin epic—soon to be a major motion picture. He serves on a variety of environmental and educational boards including The Nature Conservancy and The Land and Water Fund of the Rockies, and is the founder of a national award for heroic children. Following a life-changing decision to leave a successful business career to write full-time in 1990, Barron has written seventeen books, but is happiest when on the mountain trails with his wife, Currie, and their five children.

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