The Youngest Sister

Greystone. May 2022. 40p. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781771648752.
Gr 1-3–This book was written as if in the voice of a member of the unique Quechua community of Argentina, according to the translator’s note. In a fascinating look at a little-known culture, there are lots of chores to go around, but because Picu is the “smallest sister,” she doesn’t get an important job. She is sent to get the flavor bone for the day’s soup. Her mother warns her not to goof off and to be home from the four-hour round-trip journey by noon. Picu successfully gets the bone, which is so used-up that Doña Ciriaca’s tells her that she won’t need to bring it back. On such a long and dull journey, Picu is unable to resist going astray. She is distracted first by sweet cactus fruit, then by practicing her throwing skills, tree climbing, following butterflies, and daydreaming about who will get the flavor bone as a prize and what fun game they will play using it. She is so late getting back that she fears getting punished and hides. Only when her grandmother Estanislada arrives does Picu decide to come out of hiding; trapping a guinea pig as meat for the family, she is awarded the flavor bone as a prize and all comes right. A palette of blues, yellows, white, reds, browns, and greens enlivens the folk-art illustrations of this long tale, more storybook than picture book. Back matter includes a glossary.
VERDICT The penalty-free, surprising consequences of goofing off aside, this tale benefits more from the context provided by the publisher’s cover copy, the glossary, and the translator’s note, than the story itself.

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