White Flower: A Maya Princess

Overview

This popular folktale with Spanish origins features W’itz Ak’al, the Lord of the Woods, a cacique (king) who commands both the natural world and the city; and his beautiful daughter, Blanca Flor, who also can command the forces of nature to get her way. When a suitor arrives to court her, he must survive a series of trials set by Blanca’s father to prove his worth. Deer instead of horses act as both animal servants and the alter egos of the king and queen. Wonderfully magical, White Flower with its strong female ...
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Overview

This popular folktale with Spanish origins features W’itz Ak’al, the Lord of the Woods, a cacique (king) who commands both the natural world and the city; and his beautiful daughter, Blanca Flor, who also can command the forces of nature to get her way. When a suitor arrives to court her, he must survive a series of trials set by Blanca’s father to prove his worth. Deer instead of horses act as both animal servants and the alter egos of the king and queen. Wonderfully magical, White Flower with its strong female protagonist is set at the time of the classic Maya civilization, with gorgeous watercolor images of pyramid-cities in lush jungles.
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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
This Mayan version of the traditional Spanish folktale "Blanca Flor" tells the story of a young prince who, in the course of losing and regaining his identity, falls in love with a princess named White Flower. After helping him to complete the impossible tasks her evil father has set him, White Flower uses magic to trick her parents into allowing the young couple to marry and live happily ever after. The story is also a version of the archetypal fairytale, Snow White and, as such, much of the delight of this book lies in its particularly Mayan details, richly elaborated by the watercolor illustrations of Colombian artist Yockteng. The author is listed as a Jacaltec Maya, who first learned this story from his grandmother. Princess White Flower transfers her magic to indigenous objects: ears of yellow, white and red corn, to a wooden hair comb, and a mirror, and finally turns herself into an ear of corn to hide from her mother. Her father, W'itz Ak'al, is a Mayan demi-god, the Lord of the Forest. Like so many fairytales, this one does not always explain why: why the prince and princess fall in love, why the father is evil. The thin quality of watercolor, as it appears on the page, makes that medium an excellent complement to the thin, open-ended quality of some of the story's twists and turns. In addition to its interest to children as a simple story, this book may intrigue adult students of folktale and mythology. 2005, Groundwood Books, Ages 5 to 12.
—J. H. Diehl
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-A version of the Spanish folktale "Blanca Flor." A young prince has lost everything, including his memory. He meets strong-willed White Flower, daughter of the powerful, magical King Witz Ak'al, and the two young people fall in love. When her father opposes the union, White Flower uses magic and trickery, transforming into a thorn hedge, a foaming lake, a maze of seven paths, and more, to aid in the couple's escape. When she is finally discovered and returned to the palace, her parents relent to the marriage with very little resistance. Softened watercolor and graphite pencil illustrations aid in the telling of the story. They convey fantasy, yet maintain an almost flat, hieroglyphic quality that suggests an inscription on a Mayan temple wall. Although the wordy text sometimes seems to drift, the story is still worthy as an example of Mayan folklore.-Kim Harris, Newman Riga Library, Churchville, NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Scholar Montejo recounts the tale of a prince so devastated by the loss of his family and people that he forgets his name. He looks for work and encounters the lord king, who sets him impossible tasks. The king's daughter, White Flower, uses her own power to help the prince manage their completion and to circumvent her father and escape his control. But when her mother comes searching for the couple, they are compelled to return. White Flower declares her love, announces that her parents must accept the prince, and the tale ends in their marriage. In his watercolor-and-graphite pictures, Yockteng makes excellent use of traditional Maya imagery: the jaguar, maize, the feathered serpent, the quetzal feather. The stilted and heightened language is best for older readers, and the telling suffers a bit from the kind of broken or rough-edged metaphor that so often comes of tales spun from varied traditions. Especially attractive for Latino and First Nations collections. (source note) (Folktale. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780888995995
  • Publisher: Groundwood Books
  • Publication date: 10/10/2005
  • Pages: 36
  • Age range: 6 years
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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