CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 33. . . .April 30, 2010.
Napí Funda un Pueblo : Napí Makes a Village.
Antonio Ramírez. Illustrated by Domi. Translated by Elisa Amado.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2010.
48 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
Mazatec Indians-Juvenile fiction.
Preschool-grade 7 / Ages 4-12.
Review by Shelbey Krahn.
This picture book is deceptively simple – the words, the sentence structure and the illustrations could have been produced by an eight-year-old. However, despite the simple vocabulary, the book says a lot in few words. In just 48 pages, it illuminates the issues of relocation and loss of habitat due to dams, the dangers of encroaching on wilderness, the destruction of habitat (deforestation) due to development, the unfair treatment of Aboriginals, the fragility of survival, the wisdom of elders, and the importance of dreams.
Napi narrates the story of the relocation of her village. The early introduction of the jaguar creates suspense:
It was a beautiful place, deep in the jungle and so wild that beside the spring, where my
parents sent me to fetch water, I often saw a jaguar, lying on a big branch. It seemed to really like it there in the cool air of the spring. The jaguar was beautiful but I was scared of it. So wherever I was sent there I checked all around carefully to make sure I wouldn’t run into the huge beast.
The watercolour illustrations are rudimentary, but colourful and vivid. The childlike illustrations suit the childlike narration, and their unrealistic style is appropriate for Napi’s description of her dream. Younger readers will probably be most interested in the element of the jaguar. In an educational setting, teachers can use the book as a springboard, directing older readers to delve more deeply into the issues raised in the text.
The text is in Spanish and English, clearly separated with the Spanish on the left page and English on the right. The bilingual text is helpful for teaching ESL and SSL, or even for providing early exposure to the concept of learning a second language.
Shelbey Krahn is the Curriculum Resource Librarian at Laurentian University in Sudbury, ON.
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