Gr 2-4-Spectacular oil paintings beautifully convey the texture and substance of the culture of the Aymara Indians in Bolivia. The text describes the first time young Waira joins her parents on their trip from their mountain home to the market in Topojo. The journey normally takes two days, but in order to give Waira, and readers, a glimpse of Aymara history, the family takes a long detour to the ruins of the ancient city of Tiwanaku. They also stop near Lake Titicaca before finally arriving at the market. All of these events give Topooco the opportunity to describe some of the customs, history, lifestyle, and folklore of the people. Unfortunately, the language frequently seems forced and unnatural. When this trip is taking place-today or 100 years ago-is unclear although, in truth, it hardly matters. An afterword describes the lack of support by the Bolivian government for the preservation of this culture and language. There is no dramatic tension in the narrative which, combined with a tone that seems directed at a very young audience, makes the book's appeal to older students questionable. There is too much text, however, to make this an appropriate choice for the very young. Despite these shortcomings, creative teachers or librarians may find this title useful for its artwork and for the view it affords of a rapidly disappearing culture.-Linda Greengrass, Bank Street College Library, New York City
Waira, a young Aymara Indian girl living long ago in the Bolivian mountains near Lake Titicaca, is on her first long journey with her parents, Shaska and Khemamaya. Waira learns a lot about her people's history and about herself as she and her parents travel with their llamas to the market in Topojo, where they barter for what they need. This is a rich, moving story of a people whom time forgot, made strikingly alive by the details of everyday life. Topooco, an Aymara Indian who grew up among his people but has lived in Sweden for 22 years, vividly depicts his people's culture in oil paintings that have a vibrancy and expressiveness that can come only from experience and that convey the quiet grace of living close to the earth. Topooco speaks about his life in an afterword, which is followed by a map of Bolivia and a note that compares the lot of the Aymara Indians today with the lives of their ancestors.