The Golden Flower: A Taino Myth from Puerto Rico


Long ago, the island of Puerto Rico was called Boriquen . . . . And so begins this myth from the Taino, one of the indigenous cultures of the West Indies. Exquisitely penned by a gifted storyteller, this unique tale tells how a golden flower brought water to the world. Full color. Baby/Preschool.

This myth explains the origin of the sea, the forest, and the island now called Puerto Rico.

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Long ago, the island of Puerto Rico was called Boriquen . . . . And so begins this myth from the Taino, one of the indigenous cultures of the West Indies. Exquisitely penned by a gifted storyteller, this unique tale tells how a golden flower brought water to the world. Full color. Baby/Preschool.

This myth explains the origin of the sea, the forest, and the island now called Puerto Rico.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Make room on the folktale shelf for this arresting adaptation of a Taino myth from Puerto Rico. Jaffe (In the Month of Kislev; The Uninvited Guest) spins a colorful story about the coming of water to the desert lands that once made up the earth. And if her prose contains an element of magic, the artwork is full-strength bewitching. Snchez (Abuela's Weave) produces his best work to date. His patchwork vision of an arid desert is a kaleidoscopic landscape of many colors: burnt sienna, amber, mauve, tones highlighted by spirals of light circling down from a dazzling sun. In this desert, a child finds a seed, and another, and plants his collection on a mountaintop. A forest grows, a lush jungle with a beautiful flower and a great golden ball at its center. This shimmering globe becomes an object of scrutinyof fear and desireuntil two men fight over it and the pumpkin, for that is what the globe proves to be, bursts open, letting forth the ocean. The art sings with joy: swirls painted amidst the thick vegetation, on the chests of the stocky Taino people; a face is carved into the sides of a mountain. This simply told tale reverberates with rich layers of meaning, promising fertility and life even in the driest desert. Ages 4-8. (June)
Publishers Weekly
In another retelling, Nina Jaffe explores the legend of The Golden Flower: A Taino Myth from Puerto Rico, illus. by Enrique O. Sanchez, which describes the island's origins. Sanchez's captivating pastel artwork depicts the earth as a patchwork of deep purples and brick reds, with interlinking patterns and contours, until a child plants the seeds that cause trees and flowers to grow, and the sea soon follows. Readers will find a land of enchantment in these pages. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5Jaffe invites children to read this Puerto Rican creation myth while imagining that they are sitting in a magical circle on a tropical night. The storyteller, a Taino Indian, tells of a time when the Earth was a waterless desert plain at the base of a tall mountain. A boy, looking for food, finds a seed that he saves in his pouch. He finds more and plants them on top of the mountain. A forest grows, and at the base of one tree a vine produces first a beautiful golden flower, then a pumpkin. The people are frightened by the strange noises coming from it, and they stay away. But one day two men struggle for the fruit until the vine breaks. The pumpkin rolls down the mountain and bursts open, releasing the sea and all the creatures in it. The people rush to the top of the mountain, which becomes their island home. The text is simple and lends itself to a storyteller's performance. The book is large enough to share with a group, and the words flow smoothly across the bottom of the pages without interrupting the illustrations. Snchez's acrylic-and-gouache art creates a primitive setting with vibrant colors and angular designs. The characters' emotions are easily interpreted and contribute to the mood of the story. A worthy addition to any folktale collection.Betty Teague, Blythe Academy of Languages, Greenville, SC
Julie Corsaro
The style is simple, but this popular Taino Indian creation story gets rather complicated. In the beginning, people live on a single mountain. After a boy finds and plants some seeds, a beautiful forest grows on the mountain top. When two men fight over an enormous, noisy "calabaza" (pumpkin) in the forest, it rolls down the mountain, crashes on a rock, and splits wide open; the ocean with all its creatures spills out. Luckily, the waters stop rising when they reach the forest. Thus, the island of Puerto Rico is born. Glowing colors, stylized figures, and overlays are the hallmarks of the eye-catching art, while the spare, clipped prose makes this a folktale beginning readers can tackle. An illuminating author's note is appended.
Kirkus Reviews
The island of Puerto Rico, originally called Boriquen by its Taino inhabitants, was once, according to legend, a barren mountain. A child, looking for food, collected a pouch full of seeds and planted them at the top of the mountain, which then sprouted a forest. A vine in the forest grew a magnificent orange flower, from which emerged an enormous golden "globe that shone like the sun"-a pumpkin (calabaza). Unbeknownst to the people, this pumpkin contained the sea. When two men, fighting over the pumpkin, dropped it, it rolled down the mountain, where it burst open, releasing the sea and "whales, dolphins, crabs, and sunfish." The waters rose until they stopped at the edge of the magic forest, creating the island of Boriquen. Beautifully and simply written, this little-known tale is a welcome addition to creation myths. Unfortunately, although Jaffe acknowledges help in ascertaining "historical and linguistic accuracy and detail," she includes no original source. The illustrations in luscious tropical colors, with shapes and patterns (especially spirals) reminiscent of pre-Columbian art, are perfect. (Picture book/folktale. 5-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689804694
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 3/18/1996
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.84 (w) x 11.34 (h) x 0.45 (d)

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