Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



The Ancestors are Singing

The Ancestors are Singing

Spring 2003 Fiction
Ages: 8 & Up
Author: Tony Johnston
ISBN: 0374-30347-9
Hardcover Price: $16.00
Review:
Although Mexico and the United States share an extensive boundary, many Americans know little about the culture of our south-of-the-border neighbors. But young readers of Tony Johnston's newest poetry collection will have an eye-opening introduction to a large and diverse country. In 29 free verse poems, Johnston touches on subjects both ancient and modern, ranging from Quetzalcoatl "in the world's young days," to "the silver skein of cars" weaving through a downtown Mexico City rush hour. She portrays the beauty of the landscape and the warmth of Mexican family traditions, but she doesn't shy away from the ugly realities of Spanish conquest, tropical deforestation or poverty. Karen Barbour's illustrations use a primitive style that effectively complements the text, and are surprisingly vibrant in black and white. The book includes a helpful glossary and pronunciation key, making it easier for children to understand the context of the poems. With its respectful and lyrical tribute to the complexities of Mexico, this is a highly recommended collection.
Zarina Mullan Plath   ©2003 Parents' Choice
Zarina Mullan Plath has undergraduate degrees in both biology and English. Her interests include cookbooks/culinary history, South Asian literature (especially in regards to South Asians in America), and, of course, children's literature. Her poetry is included in the anthology Sweeping Beauty (U. of Iowa Press, 2005). Zarina lives in Central Illinois with her husband, two children, and assorted pets.


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