People of Corn: A Mayan Story

People of Corn: A Mayan Story

by Mary-Joan Gerson, Carla Golembe
     
 
From the time they lived in jungle cities with huge stone pyramids, the Mayan people have believed that corn is the spirit of life. This story tells how the first people on earth were actually made from corn. Beginning in the present-day, this lively story explains how important corn is and has always been to the Mayan people of Central America. The story explains how

Overview

From the time they lived in jungle cities with huge stone pyramids, the Mayan people have believed that corn is the spirit of life. This story tells how the first people on earth were actually made from corn. Beginning in the present-day, this lively story explains how important corn is and has always been to the Mayan people of Central America. The story explains how Plumed Serpent and Heart of Sky created everything in the world - except people. But these powerful gods made mistakes creating humans until they realized that they needed the wisdom of Grandmother of Light to help them. Bold, bright borders and patterns based on traditional Mayan symbols and cloths add to the vibrant paintings that dramatize this well-told folktale.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Gisela Jernigan
Corn is more than a staple food crop for both the ancient and the present-day Mayans. This lively retelling of the Mayan creation story explains how Plumed Serpent and Heart of Sky managed to create the world with its flora and fauna, but needed the wisdom of Grandmother of Light and her gift of corn to help them form humans out of this life-giving plant. The myth also tells why people dream and how dreams inspire the creations of weavers. The illustrations are brilliant, gouache paintings with borders and patterns inspired by Mayan glyphs and cloth. An author's note, source note and ancient prayer add to the educational value of this attractive picture book.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-This Mayan creation myth opens in the present, depicting the importance of corn in the physical and spiritual lives of the people. Readers are then taken back to ``the beginning,'' where the gods, Plumed Serpent and Heart of Sky, create life. Their first effort at living creatures results in animals; the second in wooden puppets. Unfortunately, the animals cannot speak and the puppets lack hearts: neither have what is needed to honor the gods. It is the gods' discovery of corn, ``planted in mystery by the Grandmother of Light,'' that leads to the formation of the first flesh-and-blood Mayans, a people with the capacity to celebrate and remember their origins. A final act of the gods is woven seamlessly into current beliefs as the story returns to the present. The language is poetic, yet familiar. Those who have heard other creation stories (especially Genesis) will recognize the similarities. Gerson provides a brief, but well-chosen background of the Mayans as well as a source note. Golembe's flat gouache colors on black paper become even more brilliant and fanciful as the myth unfolds, yielding green and pink gods, magenta tree trunks, lavender temples. The colorful figures are in high contrast to their backgrounds, making this a good choice for group viewing. Borders based on authentic fabric designs decorate each page of text. Use this title with David Wisniewski's Rain Player (Clarion, 1991) to explore further the role of corn in this complex civilization. It would also liven up a fall program on the harvest.-Wendy Lukehart, Dauphin County Library, Harrisburg, PA
Annie Ayres
For the Mayans living in the highlands of Guatemala, each full corn crop is welcomed as a miracle and harvested with grateful celebration because they believe that corn "is the spirit of life itself" and "that long ago when the world began, the first people on earth were actually made from corn." Beginning with the importance of corn in Mayan history and culture, Gerson weaves a rich tapestry as she tells the Mayan creation story of how the gods strove to create a people who would remember and honor their creators. Gerson's telling is radiantly complemented by Golembe's bold, vibrantly colored gouache paintings, which include borders and patterns taken from ancient Mayan glyphs and cloth. Mysterious and complex, ancient Mayan mythology has rarely been made so accessible and appealing, though primary-grade students will probably have some difficulty reading this by themselves. An opening author's note and closing source note contextually frame the story. Altogether, this Mayan myth is a multicultural treasure and another splendid contribution to folktale collections from the team that created "Why the Sky Is Far Away" (1992) and "How Night Came from the Sea (1994)".

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316308540
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
10/28/1995
Edition description:
1st ed
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
10.26(w) x 8.31(h) x 0.34(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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