Review of Sharuko: El arqueologo peruano Julio C. Tello / Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello

Sharuko: El arqueólogo Peruano Julio C. Tello / Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello
by Monica Brown; illus. by Elisa Chavarri; trans. into Spanish by Adriana Domínguez
Primary, Intermediate    Children’s/Lee & Low    40 pp.    g
8/20    978-0-89239-423-4    $19.95

This picture-book biography of Peruvian archaeologist and educator Julio C. Tello (1880–1947) forefronts Indigenous Peruvian science, knowledge systems, and art. Brown centers Tello’s indigeneity from the opening spread. Born in 1880 “in the shadow of the Andes mountains,” Tello spoke Quechua, the language spoken across generations of Indigenous Peruvian people. Nicknamed Sharuko for his brave disposition (“not even the skulls he and his brothers uncovered in ancient tombs” scared him), twelve-year-old Tello left the highlands for Lima to commence his studies, initiating a prolific and multi-continent educational journey. He returned to Peru in 1913, where at the Museum of Natural History in Lima he conducted groundbreaking excavation and fieldwork investigating the daily life of ancient Peruvians. Brown’s text, usually appearing in Spanish on the left-hand pages and in English on the right (expertly translated by Domínguez), is informative and engaging. Chavarri’s gouache and watercolor illustrations show panoramic Andean vistas, with saturated yellows balancing muted green hues; vignettes focus on resplendent brown faces; details in the art invite visual inquiry into renderings of colorful Paracas textiles and sculpted cabezas clavas from the archaeological site Chavín de Huántar. Author and illustrator notes affirm Brown’s and Chavarri’s (both of Peruvian descent) commitment to perpetuating Peru’s Indigenous culture. A bibliography is appended.

From the July/August 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Lettycia Terrones

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