Monday, November 14, 2016

Book Review: Guatemala Is My Home

A Fair Trade Book (?)

Title: Guatemala Is My Home

In order to get an Amazon photo link, we've had to link to the original book of which the book reviewed here is a lower-reading-level "adaptation." The jacket photo of Maria shown here is not the jacket photo, but one of the photos inside the book, reviewed.

Author: Patricia Lantier-Sampon  (adapting from Ronnie Cummins' Children of the World: Guatemala)

Date: 1992

Publisher: Gareth Stevens, Inc.

ISBN: 0-8368-0901-7 (use this link to buy, although you won't currently see a picture of, this book on Amazon)

Length: 48 pages

Quote: “Maria…belongs to a Mayan Indian tribe called the Tzutuhil. She lives with her parentsand her older brother, Pedro, in the Guatemalan town of Santiago Atitl├ín.”

The family agreed to be interviewed and photographed for Ronnie Cummins’ book, Children of the World: Guatemala, which Lantier-Sampon has “adapted” into a picture book for beginning readers. Generally, even at age six, I preferred the full-length versions to “abridgments” or “adaptations” for Younger Readers, but depending on how much you’re interested in knowing this may be an adequate first book about Guatemala; it certainly has pretty pictures.

I’ll admit I bought it for the picture of the simple, pretty embroidered blouse Maria models on the front cover. Designs like this one are traditionally handwoven but, in a colder climate, they adapt well to knitting.

Additional photos show Lake Atitlan and the San Pedro volcano, the family and their little house, the pretty pottery bucket in which Maria gets water from the lake, the puppy, the rabbits, Maria’s father playing the sort of simple flute known as a recorder, the making of tortillas, Maria’s class at school, the chickens,  Maria washing laundry on a rock at the lake (“these chores give Maria time to visit with her friends”), the square-backed canoes called cayucos, men picking black beans and coffee beans and weaving reed mats, a random little boy cutting sugarcane, the town orphanage, Pedro’s paintings, Maria’s fanciest piece of embroidery, the kids weighing out produce in the market, other booths in the market, Maria carrying a big bundle of kindling sticks over her head, the temple of Maximon, the Good Friday parade, and…quetzals, in the sense of Guatemalan money. There’s a mention of the Guatemalan national bird, the quetzal, at the end of the book but no picture of one.

Golden-headed Quetzal.jpg

(Picture from Itshears via Flickr, found at Wikipedia.)

Explanatory words are minimal, closer to being captions than to being a story, except for a two-page fact sheet at the back. Guatemala Is My Home barely squeaks into the category of “nonfiction books” but it’s delightful eye candy.

To buy it here, send $5 per book + $5 per package + $1 per online payment to either address at the very bottom of the screen, and we'll attempt to track down Patricia Lantier-Sampon in order to send $1 to her or to a charity of her choice.