Near Lake Atitlan, in the mountains of Guatemala, a young Mayan girl, Ixchel, watches her mom make beautiful weavings. She is awed and inspired by this long family & cultural tradition, and she wants to join in, but she is too young and not yet skilled enough to use the expensive thread. But that doesn’t stop Ixchel from trying. Searching through the materials around her (first grass, then wool, then discarded plastic bags), Ixchel finds a way to make beautiful weavings, and joins her mother at the market to sell her artwork.
Y’ALL. This was our first book we’d picked up by Elisa Chavarri, and we’re hooked. These illustrations are gorgeous, and anyone who knows those mountains instantly finds themselves transported back. Her attention to color and detail shine through with the most gorgeous depictions of traditional cortes & huipiles, and her stunning illustrations show great respect for the craftswomen she depicts. Our hearts are bursting, and we just want to run our hands over that fabric!!
This one is really special to us. In East Lake, we are proud of our beautiful mix of cultures, of all the heritages we bring to this neighborhood. But we want you to know that we are a very Guatemalan neighborhood, with a large number of our neighbors coming from Mayan Guatemalan families. Seeing Guatemala celebrated in this book— and not only that, but seeing Mayan handiwork and family traditions shared in this gorgeous and sweet story? In English AND Spanish? And when the mother and daughter begin to count together in their Mayan dialect?? TEARS. Tears of joy for hearing this beautiful mother-tongue published and shared for our kids to read, tears of ache for all our neighbors who miss this beautiful place, tears for a chance to share with them stories of where their families come from, tears of awe and amazement at these gorgeous textiles that our neighbors pass down in their families– so many mixed, grateful, wonderful tears.
For us here in East Lake, I am so grateful for this (bilingual!) story. For those of us who are looking back into our own stories, and for those of us who want to listen and learn from neighbors who speak languages different than our own– who are striving to learn who we are as this beautifully woven together neighborhood of all these different cultures– I can’t think of a better way to begin that conversation, that sharing, than over this book.