Review of The Sea-Ringed World: Sacred Stories of the Americas

The Sea-Ringed World: Sacred Stories of the Americas
by María García Esperón; illus. by Amanda Mijangos; trans. from Spanish by David Bowles
Intermediate, Middle School, High School    Levine Querido    240 pp.    g
2/21    978-1-64614-015-2    $21.99

In this ambitious and expansive compendium, Esperón collects and presents lore and legend from a wide array of Indigenous peoples from across the Americas, a.k.a. “the sea-ringed world.” The short, engaging selections are based on traditional tales that predate European invasion, some only existing as fragments that have been passed down orally through the generations. The fifty-six stories are identified by their cultures and geographic regions and begin with such folkloric openings as, “So long ago that the years are impossible to count…”; “Before time began…”; “In the remotest of times before anything was…” The entries relate creation tales, environmental wisdom, and sage advice for societies in existential crisis. Readers encounter a Spider Grandmother, a Cloud Serpent, enchanted hummingbirds, white-faced bears, llamas, whales, and more. The intriguing figures include Py’aguasu, the Guarani “god of words and good conduct and divine love,” and Uumarnituq, “one of the first two men in Inuit tradition” who “becomes pregnant and transforms into a woman.” Mijangos’s stunning three-color graphics — black, white, and deep blue — elevate each story and underscore the volume’s themes with their evocative motifs and naturalistic flow. Extensive back matter (though individual story sources are not given) rounds out this impressive, handsome, and universally appealing volume.

From the March/April 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Luann Toth
Luann Toth

Luann Toth is a former reviews editor at School Library Journal. She holds an MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh.

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