Kin, a 12-year-old Lacando'n boy living in a Mexican town, is descended from the ancient Maya. Wearing contemporary clothing yet sporting the style of long hair traditional to his people, he is clearly rooted in both the past and the present. After his grandfather shows him a book about Pacal, a Maya who became king in 615 A.D. when he was 12, Kin eagerly accompanies his father to the site of Pacal's tomb. The boy "feels a twinge of sadness" watching his father sell his handmade replicas of Maya hunting arrows to tourists "at the gates of the great city that his ancestors once ruled." Kin explores the Maya ruins and locates Pacal's tomb, but afterwards he feels lonely and distant from his ancestors. Then, on the ride home, he has an improbably sudden change of attitude when he spies a statue of the king. All at once Kin realizes that he and Pacal are "brothers" and, for the first time in his life, Kin "knows how it feels to be a king." While Garcia's (Obsidian Sky) account seems a bit forced, Wood's (A Boy Becomes a Man at Wounded Knee) impressively composed, crisply reproduced color photographs offer a worthwhile glimpse of the rich legacy of the Maya. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6Twelve-year-old Kin is a Lancando'n Indian who lives in Palenque, Mexico. He has expressed little interest in his Mayan ancestors, but after his grandfather tells him about a king named Pacal, who began his long reign when he was 12, the boy decides to visit Pacal's tomb. Kin's exploration of the series of pyramids forms the basis for much of the book. Garcia supplies basic information about Mayan civilization in general and the ruins near Palenque in particular while acknowledging the mysteries that remain about the ancient civilization. Wood's high-quality, full-color photographs capture Kin's exploratory journey and enhance the information provided by the text. Other books about the Maya may offer a broader overview of the civilization; the strength of Garcia's work lies in the juxtaposition of the present and past through Kin. He can speak the Mayan language but prefers Spanish. He helps make clay figures but would rather play soccer. During his visit to the ruins, he experiences conflicting emotions ranging from pride to sadness, from excitement to loneliness. Garcia includes a list of suggested readings for those who want to learn more about the Maya, but even those who go no further will be well served by this introduction.Kathy Piehl, Mankato State University, MN
Garcia examines the ruins at Palenque through the eyes of 12-year-old Kin, a Lacando'n Indian whose family is trying to preserve their Mayan traditions. Kin is particularly intrigued by the boy-king Pacal, who is buried at Palenque. His day spent exploring the ancient temples and finding Pacal's tomb fosters pride in his heritage and introduces readers to the Mayan culture. Despite occasional lapses in continuity with the text, the full-color photographs, contributed by Ted Wood, capture the beauty of Palenque and complement Garcia's readable, informative narrative. Helpful pronunciation guidance is supplied for the Spanish terms scattered throughout, but informed readers may wonder whether Garcia meant to use "atole" instead of "pozole" (a hominy and pork stew) when he refers to a hot corn drink that Kin's grandfather "enjoys every morning" for breakfast.