CM . . . .
Volume VI Number 11 . . . . February 4, 2000
Timta rested her head on her palm. "I cannot see myself among the gods, Karwa. I only want to stay here among my people and the llamas in this stony valley where I can smell papas cooking, bury my nose in my lliclla on cold days, or spend a morning feeling soft wool spinning out through my fingers. I like looking up to the mountain peaks, but I do not want to be up there among them. Oh, Karwa, you are so good, so believing, so sure of things," Timta uttered. "Why can't I be like that?"In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Inca civilization prevailed in Peru. In this highly structured and ritualistic society, superstition led the people to believe that the anger of the gods, shown through poor crops and bad weather, could be appeased by human sacrifice. A Gift For Ampato is the story of Timta, the 12-year-old girl chosen to be sacrificed so that her society will prosper. In this simple yet compelling story, Timta's friend, Karwa, takes Timta's place when she realizes that Timta would be happier living an ordinary life. Timta begins her new life, escaping with a woman whose daughter had been sacrificed five years earlier.
Each chapter of this short book is preceded by notes about the 1995 archeological find of the "Ice Maiden," an Inca mummy of a young girl who had been sacrificed. The suspense builds beautifully as the notes and the story gradually come together to reveal the horror of the coming sacrifice.
Unfortunately, inconsistencies in design will make this book hard to sell to students. The font size and size and length of the book cry out for primary aged, beginning readers while the Inca terms and the chilling acceptance of human sacrifice seem to call for an older reader. The book is filled with appropriate, simple illustrations, and the silver print on the cover is striking, but the static picture of two traditionally dressed Inca girls will not draw in any readers. This wonderful kernel of a story could have been an electrifying young adult novel. Too bad it isn't.
Recommended with Reservations.
Joan Marshall is the teacher-librarian and enrichment facilitator at Henry G. Izatt Middle School in Winnipeg, MB.
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