Review of The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes

tonatiuh_princess-and-the-warriorstar2 The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes
by Duncan Tonatiuh; 
illus. by the author
Primary    Abrams    40 pp.
10/16    978-1-4197-2130-4    $16.95

After a string of award-winning picture-book biographies (Separate Is Never Equal, rev. 7/14; Funny Bones, rev. 11/15), Tonatiuh turns to folklore for this adapted pourquoi story that explains the origins of two volcanoes in Mexico: Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl. Izta is a kind and beautiful princess; “suitors traveled from distant lands to woo her.” But despite promises of a life of luxury from several royal admirers, it’s the honest young warrior Popoca who captures her heart. Izta’s father, the 
emperor, sends Popoca off to fight and 
defeat rival ruler Jaguar Claw, at which point Popoca will earn Izta’s hand in marriage. But a tragic turn of events leads Izta to drink a powerful sleeping potion. Upon returning from battle and 
finding his love in a deep sleep from which she will not wake, Popoca takes her to the top of a mountain, hoping to revive her, but to no avail. Soon, “where once there was a princess with her true love by her side, two volcanoes emerged.” The style of Tonatiuh’s mixed-media art, an homage to the Mixtec codices, is instantly recognizable. The textured backgrounds are boldly colored, and the compositions convey a feeling of great motion throughout, but especially in battle scenes. Tonatiuh’s storytelling grows more assured with each title; this 
may be his best yet. Included in the excellent back matter are an author’s note, a glossary of the Nahuatl terms found sprinkled throughout the text, and a bibliography.

From the September/October 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Sam Bloom

Sam Bloom is a programming librarian at the Covington Branch of the Kenton County Public Library in northern Kentucky.

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