How the Gods Created the Finger People

Overview

"The works of Luz-Maria Lopez bring this lovely story to life. It is a must for museum and school libraries as well as family reading at home. Truly delightful."
-Diane Dufilho, director, Meadows Museum of Art at Centenary College of Louisiana

While growing up in Honduras, artist Luz-Maria Lopez loved to hear her grandmother's stories, which were often about their Mayan ancestors. One tale in particular involves the legendary finger people and how they came into existence.

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Overview

"The works of Luz-Maria Lopez bring this lovely story to life. It is a must for museum and school libraries as well as family reading at home. Truly delightful."
-Diane Dufilho, director, Meadows Museum of Art at Centenary College of Louisiana

While growing up in Honduras, artist Luz-Maria Lopez loved to hear her grandmother's stories, which were often about their Mayan ancestors. One tale in particular involves the legendary finger people and how they came into existence.

After the gods in heaven created colorful flowers, birds to sing songs, and animals to roam the forest, they were still lonely and wanted something to love them. Therefore, they decided to make humans for companionship. First, they formed a man out of clay, but he melted in water. Next, they tried wood, but this man burned in fire. Thirdly, the gods constructed a man of gold, but he lacked an appreciation for nature's beauty.

Disappointed with their efforts, the Good-Hearted God realized that humans must come from a godly part, so the heavenly figure cut the fingers from his hand. The fingers fell to Earth, and as soon as they hit the ground, they magically turned into people. Offering compassion and warmth to the gold man, the finger people were rewarded by the gods for their generosity.

Complete with Mayan-style illustrations, How the Gods Created the Finger People is told in English and Spanish.

Both Elizabeth Moore and Alice Couvillon graduated from Newcomb College. Couvillon later earned a master of arts in teaching from Tulane University and has been a teacher at Mandeville High School for more than two decades. They are also the coauthors of Pelican's Mimi's First Mardi Gras, Mimi and Jean-Paul's Cajun Mardi Gras, Louisiana Indian Tales, Evangeline for Children, and Ancient Mounds of Watson Brake: Oldest Earthworks in North America. Moore and Couvillon reside in Covington, Louisiana.

Luz-Maria Lopez received her B.A. from Southeastern Louisiana University, where she was selected as the Outstanding Graduate by the visual arts department. She was commissioned by the university to create artwork depicting the native peoples of the Americas. Her work has appeared in galleries and museums across the country. Lopez lives in Covington, Louisiana.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this bilingual collaboration, Honduran artist Lopez interprets a Mayan human origins story. When the lonely gods decide to make humans, it's a case of trial and error: a clay man melts in water, a man fashioned from wood burns, and a gold man is indifferent to Earth's beauty. Finally, the "Good-Hearted God" cuts off his fingers ("He knew his fingers... would grow back like lizards' tails") and creates the childlike finger people, who take pity on the gold man, causing the gods to decide that "descendants of the gold man will be rich," and descendants of finger people poor. Though the message is likely to puzzle readers, Lopez's paintings, merging Mayan motifs with abstract sculptural elements, show a forcefulness reminiscent of Frida Kahlo's works. Ages 5–8. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
This perplexing Mayan creation story in English and Spanish supposedly is retold by "Luz-Maria" from one told to her by her Honduran grandmother. "Once upon a time" the gods in heaven are sad. Having created trees, flowers, birds, and beasts, they are still lonely. They try to make the first human. The God of Water tests their first attempt from clay, and it melts. The second burns when tried by the God of Fire. The statue of gold suggested by the God of Gold is durable, but does not see, hear, or eat. The Good-Hearted God, hoping to make humans with feelings, cuts the fingers off his left hand to create the finger people. While the gods take a siesta, the people take care of the gold man. When the gods awaken, they declare that the descendants of the gold man will be rich, while those of the finger people will work for them and be poor. But no rich man will enter heaven without taking the hand of one of the finger people. The illustrations offer symbols from Mayan culture along with images of ancient Mayans along with glyph-like borders. These are combined in ways that suggest mystical meanings to the god and human figures, stylized plants, and cultural artifacts. The tale is open to interesting interpretations while stimulating interest in the Mayan culture. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4—After the gods in heaven created trees, flowers, birds, and animals, they were still lonely. So in order to feel loved, they decided to create humans. The first man, made of clay, could not survive the God of Water. The second man, made of wood, could not survive the God of Fire. So the gods decide to create an indestructible man made of gold, but he was cold and unfeeling. Finally, the Good-Hearted God made man by cutting off the fingers of his left hand and letting them fall to the earth. These people thrived and the gods were happy. Later, they learned that the finger people had found the man of gold and treated him kindly. They were rewarded for their kindness by serving the man of gold, not enslaved, but forever allowed to earn fair wages. Lopez's striking renderings of Mayan culture, art, and landscape set this picture book apart. Elaborate headdresses, masks, and jewelry punctuate the illustrations of royalty and even nature appears decked out in sparkling attire. The paintings range from simple and childlike (a butterfly, trees) to the elaborate (a god in full costume). The story is fairly simple, but the bilingual Spanish and English text cries out for more exploration and explanation of the Maya. Children may enjoy this selection based on the strength of its illustrations but will need to look elsewhere for a better understanding of the culture.—C. J. Connor, Campbell County Public Library, Cold Spring, KY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781589808898
  • Publisher: Pelican Publishing Company, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/3/2011
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 12.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Alice Couvillon and Elizabeth Moore are both Louisiana natives who reside in Covington and graduated from Newcomb College in New Orleans. Together they wrote the Pelican titles Mimi's First Mardi Gras, Mimi and Jean-Paul's Cajun Mardi Gras, and Louisiana Indian Tales.

Alice Couvillon and Elizabeth Moore are both Louisiana natives who reside in Covington and graduated from Newcomb College in New Orleans.

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