Review of Child of the Flower-Song People: Luz Jiménez, Daughter of the Nahua

Child of the Flower-Song People: Luz Jiménez, Daughter of the Nahua
by Gloria Amescua; illus. by Duncan Tonatiuh
Primary, Intermediate    Abrams    48 pp.    g
8/21    978-1-4197-4020-6    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-1-68335-738-4    $15.54

Luz Jiménez was an Indigenous Nahua girl from Milpa Alta, on the outskirts of Mexico City, who grew up to realize her dreams of becoming a teacher and working to preserve the Nahua language and culture. As a child, she was not allowed to go to school — that is, until the government realized that education could be used as a tool to control Indigenous people (“to turn the native children into modern ones, like the descendants of the Spanish who ruled the country, who thought only their ways were right and proper”) at the cost of preserving their traditional ways of life. When the Mexican Revolution came in 1911, Jiménez’s father was killed in the fighting and chaos, and the family moved to Mexico City, where Luz was fortunate to find work as a model for some of the leading artists of the day, including Diego Rivera. When the war ended, she returned to Milpa Alta and found her true calling as a teacher. Tonatiuh’s (Soldier for Equality, rev. 1/20; Feathered Serpent and the Five Suns, rev. 11/20) hand-drawn, digitally collaged illustrations, with an iconographic nod to the Mixtec codices, are rich in color and texture. Indeed, it’s this complicated relationship between old traditions and modern influences that makes his art such a good complement to Amescua’s text. Flowers, a Nahua metaphor for poetry, are incorporated throughout. An author’s note, a timeline, a glossary, source notes, and a bibliography are appended.

From the September/October 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Jonathan Hunt
Jonathan Hunt is the coordinator of library media services at the San Diego County Office of Education.

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