Secret Legacy

Overview


Rigoberta Menchu returns to the world of childhood in this, her third book. The novel’s seven-year-old heroine, Ixkem, is chosen to tend to the prized cornfields once her grandfather has passed away. But Ixkem isn’t sure she can accept this great responsibility. Out in the fields, she discovers a legion of tiny people, no bigger than bananas. They are b’e’n, nahuales — secret animal spirits — and when they take Ixkem into the underworld where they live, she regales them with tales of the surface. What they offer...
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Overview


Rigoberta Menchu returns to the world of childhood in this, her third book. The novel’s seven-year-old heroine, Ixkem, is chosen to tend to the prized cornfields once her grandfather has passed away. But Ixkem isn’t sure she can accept this great responsibility. Out in the fields, she discovers a legion of tiny people, no bigger than bananas. They are b’e’n, nahuales — secret animal spirits — and when they take Ixkem into the underworld where they live, she regales them with tales of the surface. What they offer in return helps Ixkem to accept both her grandfather’s wishes for her and the fact that she must soon wish him goodbye. This moving story is rich with emotion and Mayan folklore, perfect to captivate any young reader.
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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
Seven-year-old Ixkem's 100-year-old grandfather tells her his stories, "to pass the secret legacy of his wisdom along to the girl." Then, as she is tending her grandfather's cornfield, Ixkem is visited by tiny spirit people, the b'e'en, who take her to their underground kingdom. There, she shares with them her grandfather's stories, and they whisper to her a secret (never revealed in the text) for her to share with her grandfather, the final piece of wisdom he needs to depart his earthly life in peace. The book is structured around the series of stories Ixkem relates to the b'e'en: how the lion learns that humans are the most powerful animals; how humans are born, fall in love and marry; how a little girl redeems a bitter, hateful man by removing a painful thorn from his foot. Each story contains a kernel of the wisdom Ixkem has gained from her grandfather, giving the stories a highly didactic flavor: "Sometimes only other people can see what is tormenting us and help to alleviate our suffering"; "The light in our eyes is nothing more than the reflection of the eyes of people who love us." The writing offers beautiful descriptions of the lives of the Mayan people in the mountains of Guatemala, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Menchu has undertaken a valuable project in trying to preserve and transmit the "secret legacy" of their stories. Domi's colorful primitive paintings make a beautiful, culturally appropriate accompaniment. It is not clear, however, that children will be an appreciative audience for this collection. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.
School Library Journal

Gr 4-8

On her first day watching over her Mayan grandfather's cornfields, young Ixkem is invited by the b'e'n , spirits in the form of small humans, to visit them underground. They feed her generously and she tells them stories that explain Mayan customs and include bits of folklore. Before her return, the nahuales give her a great secret, which she passes on to her 100-year-old grandfather, allowing him to die peacefully. This story frames a somewhat disjointed collection of tales that show how humans are the smartest creatures; how Mayans fall in love, get married, and have children; how they can be both bad and good; and how important it is for people to help each other. Menchú is a Mayan activist who shared a Nobel Peace Prize; Liano a prize-winning Guatemalan author for adults now living in Italy. The Mexican artist Domi has provided bright paintings in a naturalistic, folk-art style. The lyrical translation preserves the storyteller's voice. This companion to The Honey Jar (Groundwood, 2006), by the same team, will be equally useful in multicultural collections.-Kathleen Isaacs, Towson University, MD

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780888998965
  • Publisher: Groundwood Books
  • Publication date: 10/10/2008
  • Edition description: Translatio
  • Pages: 64
  • Age range: 4 years
  • Lexile: NC890L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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