A Land of Books: Dreams of Young Mexihcah Word Painters

Abrams. Nov. 2022. 48p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781419749421.
Gr 2-5–A young girl tells her brother the story of the tlahcuilohqueh, painters of words. She slowly tells her brother all about the stories they make, what happens to them, and the pride of her family in doing this job. Tonatiuh has created a story that blends cultures and historical facts into words students will understand. The mix of English and Spanish comprise a simple vocabulary aided by a glossary at the end which facilitates bilingual readers and learners alike. The spare text on each page is very visible against the fantastic illustrations. Tonatiuh continues to create beautiful depictions of his heritage, with each illustration showing exactly what the text addresses, and making certain parts of the Mexihcah book process much clearer. The simple details of his drawings are amazing; at the end of the book, readers will understand just how authentically the illustrations hew to actual pictures of the handful of remaining codices. An author’s note at the end also serves as a history, going into the dark time of colonization and how his culture, and the books of his people, have been harshly impacted.
VERDICT Once again Tonatiuh has gathered history, language, and stories into a cultural gift to readers; an excellent book for students who want to learn how books are made, those who love history (even the difficult parts), and anyone interested in learning about Mexihcah culture.

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