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When his face is changed into that of a snake after he visits a forbidden cave, a young boy wears a mask for twenty years, ...
When his face is changed into that of a snake after he visits a forbidden cave, a young boy wears a mask for twenty years, before being taken into the sky.
Posted October 8, 2010
Uncle Snake is an original folktale by Matthew Gollub, inspired by a Oaxacan belief that likens lightning to snakes. My 5 and 8 year old read this book with quiet excitement, especially my son. The story follows a boy into a cave where he experiences a mystical transformation. Now with the head of a snake, the boy is taken by his parents to the village curandero, a healer, and then a nahual, a magic worker, to see if they can change him back to his original form. Given an enchanted mask and special instructions, the boy grows up to be Uncle Snake. He dances and tells stories and runs through the hills to cheers from the village children. When his time has come, Uncle Snake removes the mask and is changed again and jettisoned into the sky to become a dancing beacon to all below that storms approach. Leovigildo Martinéz, an honored artist from Oaxaca, illustrates this fable with compelling watercolors that cast its Mexican characters and landscapes with mythic light and shade. This picture book is a great selection to encourage cultural literacy and open up discussion about the world's fables with your kids. And sometimes now, when my kids ask me a question I can't answer, I borrow a favorite line from the book's nahual. "The answer is in the clouds." Gollub and Martinéz have also collaborated on two other fine books for children, "The Moon was at a Fiesta" and "The Twenty-Five Mixtec Cats." They are available in Spanish as well.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.