cover image Miro in the Kingdom of the Sun

Miro in the Kingdom of the Sun

Jane Kurtz. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-395-69181-6

The poor but worthy hero who, after others have failed, cures a sick royal child with some special food or drink from a magic place appears in many folktales in many places. In this particularly satisfying Ecuadoran Inca variant, the hero is a girl who can talk with the birds and run as swiftly as her brothers. To heal an ailing prince, Miro's brothers, like so many men in the kingdom, attempt to fetch water from a lake at the pachap cuchun cuchun, one of the corners of the earth; failing, they are cast into a dungeon. Miro, however, succeeds in her quest. Enlisting the help of her bird friends, she finds the lake, and when she is tested there by huge monsters that rush at her, she stands her ground each time. Frampton's (Whaling Days) painted woodcuts maximize the drama of these scenes, as each monster looms across a two-page spread over the tiny figure of Miro. Throughout, Kurtz (Fire on the Mountain) deftly weaves in details of pre-Conquest Inca life, giving readers a glimpse of a vanished culture as well as a good story. An excellent choice for children ready to go beyond Western fairytale favorites. Ages 4-7. (Apr.)