Ghost Handsby T. A. Barron, William Low (Illustrator)
When T. A. Barron visited the Patagonian Cave of Hands and saw a footprint inside the cave, he knew there was a story there. And so he created the story of Auki, a young boy who knows he's ready to be a hunter, even though his father says he's not old enough. When Auki defies his father and sneaks out at dawn with spear in hand, he discovers something unexpected-a place he never knew existed. A place that teaches him more about his people-and himself- than a hunt ever could. This is a powerful story of courage, transformation, and imagined history.
The ubiquity of the handprint in cave art around the world, and Patagonia in particular, begs unresolved questions about the image's meaning; Barron's invented back story posits that healers, warriors and others who contributed to the common good may have been thus memorialized.
Adding to the intrigue in Argentina's Cueva de las Manos is the appearance of a footprint. Combining suspense with coincidence to imagine what prompted this singularity, Barron offers this tale narrated by a son of the Tehuelche tribe. When Auki begs to go hunting, his father admonishes him to wait: "To hunt you must be strong. And brave—brave enough to face the puma. For the puma, too, is a hunter...." The child sets out alone. Digitally rendered compositions teem with texture and depth. Light and shadow crisscross the cliffs, and loose strokes animate the players. In a dramatic double-page spread, the beast appears, fangs bared, facing the reader and the boy. While fleeing, the protagonist wounds his foot, stumbling upon the secret cave "visited only by elders...and...ghosts." A climactic scene pitting the savage animal against the aged cave painter portrays Auki's foot as a weapon—one worthy of record.
As in Barron and Low's previous collaboration, The Day the Stones Walked (2007), tightly connected visuals and text provoke curiosity and awe about a phenomenon at once mysterious and accessible. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-8)
Meet the Author
T.A. Barron is the award-winning author of fantasy novels such as The Lost Years of Merlin epic—soon to be a major motion picture. He serves on a variety of environmental and educational boards including The Nature Conservancy and The Land and Water Fund of the Rockies, and is the founder of a national award for heroic children. Following a life-changing decision to leave a successful business career to write full-time in 1990, Barron has written seventeen books, but is happiest when on the mountain trails with his wife, Currie, and their five children.
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