________________ CM . . . . Volume III Number 21 . . . . June 20, 1997

cover Jade and Iron: Latin American Tales from Two Cultures

Edited by Patricia Aldana. Illustrated by Luis Garay.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood, 1996.
64 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
ISBN 0-88899-256-4.

Subject Headings:
Tales-Latin America.
Indians of South America-Folklore.
Indians of Mexico-Folklore.

Grades 2 and up / Ages 7 and up.
Review by Lorraine Douglas.

*** /4

image The fourteen traditional tales in this collection are drawn from two cultures. The first seven selections are Native stories which often explain how the natural world originated. The Latin stories revolve around the relationships between people as well as their relationships to the natural world.

      The stories are short, direct and easy-to-read. The Legend of Manioc, for example, surprisingly tells how a mother buries her unwanted daughter alive. The daughter is transformed into manioc, a staple root crop of the Indian people of South America. In an Aztec story, When Mountains became Gods, two warriors battle for a woman, and, after an earthquake, the woman turns into snow-covered mountains. Other tales tell of the origin of the Milky Way, the creation of Devil's Gorge and how Chile's Mapuche people found flint to make fire. image

      The Latin stories are also mature in content. In one story, women are seduced by the songs of Sombrero Grande, and his tears turn into crystal along the cobblestones. The Horse of Seven Colors is a fabulous tale from Guatemala in which a magical horse saves a man and helps him win the hand of the princess in a race. This story of Jose is quite reminiscent of the story of Joseph in the Bible because of the theme of jealousy between brothers. Several of the stories would allow readers to do a cross-cultural comparison of versions of creation stories. For example, students could make comparisons between the origin story of the Milky Way and other constellation myths.

      Each story is attractively illustrated by Luis Garay who utilizes earthen colors in a stippled style. Readers will enjoy using these stories to learn more about Central and South America.


Lorraine Douglas is the Youth Services Coordinator at the Winnipeg Public Library.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © 1997 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364