Gorgeous bilingual picture book introduces children to indigenous origin story of Latin America.

 

In a land where the yellow jaguar lives and the sun rise behind green mountains, “the earth was filled with joy” when Balám, the boy of maize, was born. He climbed on top of a big, blue turtle, and along with an assortment of other animals, began the journey to the village.

 

Excited to spread the word about the child’s birth, the creatures worked together—each utilizing its special skills—in perfect harmony with Mother Earth. The turtle walked so slowly that he sent the louse ahead to give the good news to the townspeople. But the louse fell asleep in the road, so the toad swallowed him and said, “I will take you with the message.” The toad, exhausted from taking big leaps, was swallowed by the snake, and the snake, unable to cross the river, was swallowed by the hawk. When the bird flew into the village, the louse delivered the message, but long days and nights passed and still the boy did not arrive! Would the great turtle be able to deliver the special boy?

           

Capturing the essence of nature while telling the mythical story that unites Central American countries around the importance of corn, this enchanting bilingual picture book introduces children to the Mayan origin story of a people made of maize. Written by acclaimed Salvadoran writer Mario Bencastro, it contains beautiful illustrations by accomplished children’s book artist Christina Rodriguez.

 

Mario Bencastro is the author of numerous award-winning books, including a bilingual picture book, Un tren llamado Esperanza / A Train Called Hope (Piñata Books, 2021), and a novel for teens in English and Spanish: A Promise to Keep (Piñata Books, 2005) and Viaje a la tierra del abuelo (Piñata Books, 2004).

 

Christina Rodríguez is the illustrator of several picture books for children, including We Are Cousins / Somos primos (Piñata Books, 2007), Mayte and the Bogeyman / Mayte y el Cuco (Piñata Books, 2006) and Un día con mis tías / A Day with My Aunts (Piñata Books, 2006). She graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2003 with a BFA in illustration.