Aquí era el paraíso/ Here Was Paradise: Selección de poemas de Humberto Ak’abal/ Selected Poems of Humberto Ak’abal

Groundwood. Aug. 2021. 172p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781773064956.
Gr 6 Up–Divided into sections that explore everything from wildlife, home life, nature, and ghosts, this collection of poetry introduces readers to poet Humberto Ak’abal’s home in Guatemala, and the pride and love felt for his Maya K’iche’ village and the history it carries. Individual sections discuss everyday life in the village and animals, such as birds and dogs, and dissect aspects of nature, such as the moon and stars as magical things you can reach out and touch. Less tangible topics explored include love, ghosts, life, and death—ruminating about the place of each in everyday life, as well as the beauty and lessons that they teach. Ak’abal does not shy away from the hardships the Maya have suffered, sharing verses about injustice and poverty whose roots stretch back hundreds of years. The watercolor and pencil illustrations depict everyday life and transform mundane sights, such as dogs, flowers, trees, and the moon, into something extraordinary. English and Spanish translations are provided side by side. Additional information about the author, illustrator, and translator is included, providing insight into the author’s life and work.
VERDICT An excellent addition to poetry collections for youth, sure to also find fans among adult readers.

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