THE GOLDEN FLOWER

A TAINO MYTH FROM PUERTO RICO

The island of Puerto Rico, originally called Boriquén by its Taino inhabitants, was once, according to legend, a barren mountain. A child, looking for food, collected a pouch full of seeds and planted them at the top of the mountain, which then sprouted a forest. A vine in the forest grew a magnificent orange flower, from which emerged an enormous golden “globe that shone like the sun”—a pumpkin (calabaza). Unbeknownst to the people, this pumpkin contained the sea. When two men, fighting over the pumpkin, dropped it, it rolled down the mountain, where it burst open, releasing the sea and “whales, dolphins, crabs, and sunfish.” The waters rose until they stopped at the edge of the magic forest, creating the island of Boriquén. Beautifully and simply written, this little-known tale is a welcome addition to creation myths. Unfortunately, although Jaffe acknowledges help in ascertaining “historical and linguistic accuracy and detail,” she includes no original source. The illustrations in luscious tropical colors, with shapes and patterns (especially spirals) reminiscent of pre-Columbian art, are perfect. (Picture book/folktale. 5-10)

Pub Date: April 30, 2005

ISBN: 1-55885-452-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Piñata Books/Arte Público

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2005

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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HELLO, HARVEST MOON

As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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