The poor but worthy hero who, after others have failed, cures a sick royal child with some special food or drink from a magic place appears in many folktales in many places. In this particularly satisfying Ecuadoran Inca variant, the hero is a girl who can talk with the birds and run as swiftly as her brothers. To heal an ailing prince, Miro's brothers, like so many men in the kingdom, attempt to fetch water from a lake at the pachap cuchun cuchun, one of the corners of the earth; failing, they are cast into a dungeon. Miro, however, succeeds in her quest. Enlisting the help of her bird friends, she finds the lake, and when she is tested there by huge monsters that rush at her, she stands her ground each time. Frampton's (Whaling Days) painted woodcuts maximize the drama of these scenes, as each monster looms across a two-page spread over the tiny figure of Miro. Throughout, Kurtz (Fire on the Mountain) deftly weaves in details of pre-Conquest Inca life, giving readers a glimpse of a vanished culture as well as a good story. An excellent choice for children ready to go beyond Western fairytale favorites. Ages 4-7. (Apr.)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Miro was born in a humble, adobe and stone hut in the ancient kingdom of the Incas, before the arrival of the Spaniards. She grows into a swift runner while tending her family's llamas and racing with her brothers. She dreams of becoming one of the chasqui runners who carry messages from Cuzco throughout the Inca kingdom. She gets her chance when a call comes from the King's palace to search for the magical healing waters to cure the failing prince. Kurtz retells the Incan folktale of Miro's determination to reach her dream and her kinship with all things wild. She skillfully weaves details of ancient Incan life before the arrival of Pizarro and his soldiers. Woodcuts by Frampton evoke images of the natural and supernatural world of the Inca.
Children's Literature - Katherine Wright
How wonderful to have a heroine in this retelling of an ancient Inca folktale. Miro has grown up in the mountains, racing against her brothers and caring for animals. She has the ability to communicate with the birds and runs like the wind. As she thrives, the prince of the kingdom weakens. The only cure for his malady is water from the lake "at the corner of the world." Many try, but not even Miro's brothers can succeed. They are imprisoned for bringing the prince water that is not from the sacred lake. Miro's talents rescue her brothers and save the prince. Birds play a major role in the story and feathers even decorate the dedication page. The bold typeface holds up well against the strong woodcuts. The entire layout is quite appealing and when combined with an unusual story, the result is very effective. A good choice for any folklore or Native American collection.
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
K-Gr 4-An Incan folktale about a peasant girl, Miro, whose ability to run swiftly and to understand the language of the birds enables her to find a magic lake, cure a king's ailing son, and free her imprisoned brothers. According to her note, Kurtz has expanded on the source tale, incorporating more details about life in the Incan Empire. She is a superb storyteller. The narrative is vivid and crisp, weaving in Incan words whose meanings are clear in context. The story never falters, and Miro is a strong, admirable heroine. Frampton's blocky, boldly patterned woodcuts capture the spirit and exuberance of the story and reflect an understanding of the period. The illustrations are clear enough to be seen by a group, and the layout is appealing, with heavy black type and excellent use of white space and contrast. An unusual and outstanding offering.-Donna L. Scanlon, Lancaster County Library, PA
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Kurtz retells a legend of the Incas, collected by Genevieve Barlow and first published in the children's book "Latin American Tales" (1966). The king's son lies dying, and two young men go out to seek the magic lake water that will save him. Unable to find the special lake, they bring back ordinary water. When their treachery is discovered, they are imprisoned, and their little sister undertakes the quest to find the water and save her brothers as well as the prince. Although Kurtz follows the basic outline of the story and writes with graceful phrasing, the changes and elaborations in this version shift the focus from the central story by adding lines of dialogue as well as details of the Incan civilization and language. The tale is weaker for it, but Frampton's woodcuts, brightened with colorful washes, create strong, dynamic pictures. A read-aloud choice for classes studying the Incas.
An Incan folktale about Miro, a spirited young girl who rescues her foolish brothers from the royal dungeon by saving a prince from death. The High Priest has said that the only thing that can heal the dying young prince is water from a mysterious lake in one of the corners of the world. When Miro's brothers try to pass off ordinary water as the cure, they are imprisoned. Miro, with a talent for communicating with birds, sets out to find the lake and help her brothers.
Frampton's strikingly bold woodcuts, filled with color and given geometric patterns and borders, are the perfect complement to this tale, evoking the magic and mystery of a vanished ancient culture. Stylized and mostly gentle, they become fierce in Miro's encounters with giant creatures that attempt to keep her from the lake. Kurtz (I'm Calling Molly, 1989, etc.) combines formal language and a contemporary style to make the story at once accessible and otherworldly.