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CriticasPreS-Gr 2-This beautifully illustrated and powerfully written book combines a compelling adventure story with folklore from Oaxaca. The slightly nightmarish story begins before there was lightning. A boy dares to enter a forbidden cave and finds children who have been given snake bodies. He runs home in terror, only to discover that his head has turned into a snake's head. His parents take him to different curanderos, or folk healers, but none can help him. Finally, he is taken to a nahual, an ancient kind of Aztec wizard, who tells him what he needs to do. The story ends by revealing that the boy's misadventures led to the origin of lightning, which the indigenous people considered a powerful life force. From the beginning, when Gollub writes that before lightning, storms were as dark as the "mouth of a wolf," the writing is filled with description that brings the story very much to life. The Spanish translation appears to be faithful and error-free. Martinez's vivid illustrations match the tone of the story perfectly. A helpful author's note at the end explains the folkloric origins of the story. The book, however, is a bit frightening and may be better suited to daytime sharing than bedtime reading. Highly recommended for libraries and bookstores.
—Rebecca Thatcher Murcia, Akron, PA Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.